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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.
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). 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 2009 data.
Causes of Death data and Causes of Death, Doctor Certified Deaths are published annually, following the publication of Deaths, Australia (ABS cat 3302.0) in November of each year.
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 28-32 and Technical Note: Causes of Death Revisions for further information on the revision process.
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 of 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 new revisions process that applies to all coroner certified deaths registered after 1 January 2007. This is a change from previous 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 28-32 and Technical Note: Causes of Death Revisions 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 technical note in this issue contains information pertinent to coroner certified deaths affected by the revision process.
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