Completeness and Accuracy of Death Dates and the Implications for Studying Disease Burdens: Focus on Alternative Data Sources

  • Min-Woong Sohn
  • Elissa Oh
Reference work entry


Death dates comprise a critical piece of mortality data for studying disease burden. This paper reviews various sources of death dates available for disease burden studies and evaluates them in terms of their  completeness and  accuracy. Civil registration systems are the most frequently used sources of dates and causes of death for Global Burden of Disease studies and other studies of population health. A review of the mortality data submitted to the World Health Organization suggests that tremendous variations in the completeness and  coverage exist from country to country and large improvements in the quality of civil registration systems are still to be achieved. For studies of disease burden that require person-level data, not only the civil registration systems but some alternative sources can be utilized. These alternative sources may not have the completeness and accuracy of the data from the civil registration systems, but when they are combined judiciously they can be a valuable source of death dates that can match the civil registration system in completeness and accuracy.


Death Certificate Social Security Number Death Date National Death Index Social Security Administration 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

List of Abbreviations:


the VA beneficiary identification and record locator subsystem


Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services


disability-adjusted life year


global burden of disease


National Center for Health Statistics


national death index


 positive predictive value


Research Data Assistance Center


Social Security Administration


The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs


World Health Organization


years of life lost due to disability


years of life lost due to premature mortality


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  • Min-Woong Sohn
  • Elissa Oh

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