International cause-of-death database derived from the WHO mortality database

Alfred Nizard, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Alexandre Avdeev, Université Marc Bloch, Strasbourg
Vladimir A. Pshenkin, Moscow State University
Alain Monnier, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

The WHO Mortality Database provides specialists with retrospective statistics on annual causes of death for more than 100 countries, often dating back to the early 1950s. However, it is composed of files which “do not constitute a user-friendly data collection which the average user can download and access”. The purpose of the international cause-of-death database presented here is to provide broader access to WHO data – be it the number of deaths, the age-specific or standardized death rates – for countries and years selected by the user, and for the desired level of aggregation or detail. The available information has been individualized, with each cause-of-death statistic defined by cause, country, sex, year and age. For each revision of the International Classification, several lists of causes are used, each specific to a group of countries. These lists have been ranked (chapters, groups of causes and single causes) and interlinked in order to decompartmentalize the statistics of different groups of countries. For each selected cause, the countries and years for which numerical data are available, by sex and for both sexes combined, are displayed on screen. Then, for each selected country and year, users can view the number of deaths, their age distribution or the crude, age-specific or standardized death rates. The database is currently being extended in a number of ways: - creation of an equivalence between similar causes in the numerous ICD revisions, - creation of a list of causes common to all revisions, - creation by users of individualized sets of causes in an interactive mode, - organization of the database so that all types of request for data can be satisfied (by causes or countries or years). This work was presented in February 2005 to the WHO unit responsible for collecting and disseminating cause-of-death statistics, which expressed considerable interest in the project.

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Presented in Session 71: Methods of mortality analysis