Data retrieval and processing options an ideal national death index should provide

Martina Schmidt-Stolte, University of Marburg
Ulrich O. Mueller, University of Marburg

A National Death Index covers all deaths in a country registering vital data, basic biographical information and a detailed documentation of the cause(s) of death for each case. They may be used with identifiable information in two directions (researcher provides identifiable information on subjects and getting date and cause of death information; researcher provides cause, dates, places etc of death and retrieving identifiable information)and without. Many countries do have such National Death Indices, some already for decades, others are just about planning one A National Death Index is an indispensible infrastructure for social, public health and medical research. Registration of vital events plus cause-of-death documentation is the oldest and most extensive public health surveillance system. International compatibility of such databases opens many options for morbidity and mortality risk identification, but requires more common features than proper use of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). General data quality and procedural standards recommendations should at least cover these areas: (1) Speed (In the US National Death Index data records are available only 18-24 months later), (2) Completeness (in smaller European countries, a substantial proportion of the population spends some years abroad, thus, there should be an exchange of mortality data between countries of birth); (3) Record linkage capacity; (4) Multi-causality features in the cause-of-death documentation;(5) Convertibility between coding systems; (5) Efficient, Information preserving privacy protection features; (6) Data quality documentation; (7) High bioethics standards.

Presented in Poster Session 2