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Am J Public Health. 1982 November; 72(11): 1265–1270.
PMCID: PMC1650437

New dimensions in cause of death statistics.

Abstract

This article discusses the limitations of traditional national cause of death statistics. These limitations derive from an attempt to conceptualize a multidimensional phenomenon and reduce down to a unidimensional framework. The article outlines the characteristics of a new multidimensional approach which involves the codification and tabulation of all causes (multiple causes) listed on death certificates. Preliminary data are presented which illustrate that multiple cause of death data do indeed represent a major new dimension to cause of death statistics. These data indicate that most major causes of death are contributory factors in many deaths in which they are not the underlying cause of death. For example, in 1976, diabetes mellitus was the underlying cause of approximately 35,000 deaths but was a contributing factor in another 100,000 deaths. This paper also demonstrates the contribution of multiple cause of death data to identifying patterns of association among diseases and the kinds of injuries resulting from various external causes. Finally, data are presented which depict the use of multiple cause data in evaluating the efficacy of the coding rules used to classify the underlying cause of death.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Wing S, Manton KG. A multiple cause of death analysis of hypertension-related mortality in North Carolina, 1968-1977. Am J Public Health. 1981 Aug;71(8):823–830. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Gittelsohn AM. On the distribution of underlying causes of death. Am J Public Health. 1982 Feb;72(2):133–140. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • DORN HF, MORIYAMA IM. USES AND SIGNIFICANCE OF MULTIPLE CAUSE TABULATIONS FOR MORTALITY STATISTICS. Am J Public Health Nations Health. 1964 Mar;54:400–406. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Janssen TA. Importance of Tabulating Multiple Causes of Death. Am J Public Health Nations Health. 1940 Aug;30(8):871–879. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Dublin LI, Van Buren GH. CONTRIBUTORY CAUSES OF DEATH-THEIR IMPORTANCE AND SUGGESTIONS FOR THEIR CLASSIFICATION. Am J Public Health (N Y) 1924 Feb;14(2):100–105. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Wing S, Manton KG. A multiple cause of death analysis of hypertension-related mortality in North Carolina, 1968-1977. Am J Public Health. 1981 Aug;71(8):823–830. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

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