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QUALITY DECLARATION - CAUSES OF DEATH DATA, SUMMARY
For information on the institutional environment of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including the legislative obligations of the ABS, financing and governance arrangements, and mechanisms for scrutiny of ABS operations, please see ABS Institutional Environment.
Statistics presented in Causes of Death, Australia, 2014 (cat. no. 3303.0) are sourced from death registrations administered by the various state and territory Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages. It is a legal requirement of each state and territory that all deaths are registered. Information about the deceased is supplied by a relative or other person acquainted with the deceased, or by an official of the institution where the death occurred on a Death Registration Form. As part of the registration process, information on the cause of death is either supplied by the medical practitioner certifying the death on a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, or supplied as a result of a coronial investigation.
Death records are provided electronically to the ABS by individual Registrars on a monthly basis. Each death record contains both demographic data and medical information from the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, where available. Information from coronial investigations are provided to the ABS through the National Coronial Information System (NCIS).
The ABS causes of death collection includes all deaths that occurred and were registered in Australia, including deaths of persons whose usual residence is overseas. Deaths of Australian residents that occurred outside Australia may be registered by individual Registrars, but are not included in ABS deaths or causes of death statistics.
For example, records received by the ABS during the March quarter of 2015 which were initially registered in 2014 or prior (but not forwarded to the ABS until 2015) are assigned to the 2014 reference year. Any registrations relating to 2014 which are received by the ABS after the end of the March 2015 quarter are assigned to the 2015 reference year.
Data in the Causes of Death collection include demographic items as well as Causes of Death information, which is coded according to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). The ICD is the international standard classification for epidemiological purposes and is designed to promote international comparability in the collection, processing, classification, and presentation of cause of death statistics. The classification is used to classify diseases and causes of disease or injury as recorded on many types of medical records as well as death records. The ICD has been revised periodically to incorporate changes in the medical field. The 10th revision of ICD (ICD-10) is used for the 2014 data.
Issues for causes of death data:
Causes of Death data are published annually, following the publication of Deaths, Australia (cat. no. 3302.0).
There is a focus on fitness for purpose when causes of death statistics are released. To meet user requirements for accurate causes of death data it is necessary to obtain information from other administrative sources before all information for the reference period is available (e.g. information from finalisation of coronial proceedings to code an accurate cause of death). A balance therefore needs to be maintained between accuracy (completeness) of data and timeliness. ABS provides the data in a timely manner, ensuring that all coding possible can be undertaken with accuracy prior to publication.
In addition, to address the issues which arise through the publication of causes of death data for open coroners cases, these data are now subject to a revisions process. This process enables the use of additional information relating to coroner certified deaths either 12 or 24 months after initial processing. See Explanatory Notes 52-54 and the Causes of Death Revisions, 2012 and 2013 Technical Note in this publication, for further information on the revision process.
Issues for causes of death data:
Non-sample errors are most likely to influence accuracy in datasets which constitute a complete census of the population, such as the Causes of Death collection. Non-sample error arises from inaccuracies in collecting, recording and processing the data. The most significant of these errors are: mis-reported data items; deficiencies in coverage; incomplete records; and processing errors. Every effort is made to minimise non-sample error by working closely with data providers, running quality checks throughout the data processing cycle, training of processing staff, and efficient data processing procedures.
The ABS has implemented a revisions process that applies to all coroner certified deaths registered after 1 January 2006. This is a change from preceding years where all ABS processing of causes of death data for a particular reference period was finalised approximately 13 months after the end of the reference period. The revisions process enables the use of additional information relating to coroner certified deaths as it becomes available over time, resulting in increased specificity of the assigned ICD-10 codes. See Explanatory Notes 52-54 and the Causes of Death Revisions, 2012 and 2013 Technical Note in this publication, for further information on the revision process.
Use of the supporting documentation released with the statistics is important for assessing coherence within the dataset and when comparing the statistics with data from other sources. Changing business rules over time and/or across data sources can affect consistency and hence interpretability of statistical output. The Explanatory Notes in each issue contains information pertinent to this particular release which may impact on comparison over time.
This publication provides additional information on statistics impacted by the revision process. The Causes of Death Revisions, 2012 and 2013 Technical Note in this issue contains information pertinent to coroner certified deaths affected by the revision process.
In 2014, the ABS implemented Iris, a new automated coding software product for assisting in the processing of cause of death data. This software has been used for the 2013 and 2014 cause of death data provided in this publication. With the introduction of new coding software, the ABS also implemented the most up to date versions of the ICD-10 when coding 2013 and 2014 data (using the 2013 and 2015 versions, respectively), and improved a number of coding practices to realign with international best practice. As part of this, the ABS began a review of its method of coding perinatal deaths which, for the 2013 and 2014 data published in this issue, has meant a change to the method used for assigning an underlying cause of death to neonatal deaths. It is advised that data users refer to the below technical notes for further details.
The Causes of Death publication contains detailed Explanatory Notes, Technical Notes, Appendices and a Glossary that provide information on the data sources, terminology, classifications and other technical aspects associated with these statistics.
In addition to the information provided in this publication, a series of data cubes are also available, providing detailed breakdowns by Causes of Death. The ABS observes strict confidentiality protocols as required by the Census and Statistics Act (1905). This may restrict access to data at a very detailed level which is sought by some users.
If the information you require is not available from the publication or the data cubes, then the ABS may also have other relevant data available on request. Inquiries should be made to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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