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DATA LINKAGE TO DERIVE ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER AUSTRALIANS DEATHS IDENTIFICATION RATES
The CDE Indigenous Mortality Study involved linking Census records with death registration records to examine differences in the reporting of Indigenous status across the two datasets. Specifically the study linked 2016 Census records with all registered deaths that occurred from 9 August 2016 to 28 September 2017, with a slightly longer range than 12 months to allow time for all relevant deaths to be registered and processed.
In the absence of any unique identifier in the Census and deaths datasets, linking was performed using probabilistic methods. Three groups of variables, name (first name and surname), personal characteristics (date of birth, age, sex, place of birth, year of arrival and marital status), and geographic information (street number, street name, suburb, mesh block and postcode) were used to link death records to Census records. Variables common to both datasets were standardised to ensure consistent coding and formatting. The two datasets were linked in a way that was independent of reported Indigenous status so that any future analysis would not be affected by bias introduced in the linking process. For this reason, Indigenous status was not used as a linking variable.
The 2016 Death registrations to Census linkage project builds on the success of other data integration programs, incorporating enhancements from these programs.
The main enhancements implemented for the 2016 project included:
Internationally, similar record linkage studies have been conducted in New Zealand where the 1981, 1986, 1991, 1996 and 2001 Censuses were each anonymously and probabilistically linked to three years of subsequent deaths data, allowing a comparison of ethnicity recording (Ajwani et al., 2003; Blakely et al., 2002a; Blakely et al., 2002b). Large nationally representative studies based on linked Census and deaths data have also been conducted in the United Kingdom, France, Sweden and Netherlands. The results from these studies have been used in various ways including the provision of evidence for policy decisions and the setting of policy targets for special intervention programs.
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