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Update on deaths data at the AIHW - July 2012

The AIHW has recently been granted access to the latest cause of death unit record files (CODURFs), up to 2010. These data were provided by the Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the National Coroners Information System.

The AIHW uses these data to maintain the National Mortality Database (NMD) and the National Death Index (NDI). The NMD is used for reporting on causes of death and the NDI enables data linkage activity for health and medical research relating to mortality.

The AIHW can now resume fulfilling requests for information about mortality. Please note, while AIHW is not able to provide access to their databases for external users, we can usually provide tabulated information about causes of death using the NMD. These requests are subject to confidentialisation of the tabulated data.

For information about causes of death, please contact the AIHW on .

For details about using the NDI for health and medical research please contact the AIHW on .

Requests to the AIHW for data linkage output from the NDI require AIHW Ethics Committee approval.

Applicants are likely to experience some delays due to the current backlog of requests.

The National Death Index (NDI) is a database, housed at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, which contains records of all deaths occurring in Australia since 1980. The data are obtained from the Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages in each State and Territory. The Index is designed to facilitate the conduct of epidemiological studies and its use is strictly confined to medical research.

What does the NDI contain?

The NDI database is held in Oracle and comprises the following variables for each deceased person: name, date of birth (or estimated year of birth), age at death, sex, date of death, State/Territory of registration, registration number. Cause of death information in a coded form is also available. For records to 1996, only the code for underlying cause of death is available. For records from 1997, the codes for the underlying cause of death and all other causes of death mentioned on the death certificate are available. This information is derived by linking the National Death Index registration numbers for deaths with the National Mortality Database.

How do researchers access the National Death Index?

Researchers can access the National Death Index if their study meets the following set of conditions:

  • the study focuses on health issues
  • the study has been approved by the researcher's host institution ethics committee and the AIHW Ethics Committee
  • the study is scientifically valid (as judged by a peer review process)
  • the study results will be placed in the public domain
  • the study will not break confidentiality provisions
  • the study investigators comply with the AIHW legislation under which the data are released, and
  • the data will be secured in an environment that guarantees confidentiality of individuals' data.

Confidentiality and security

The confidentiality conditions of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Act 1987 will also apply to data provided by National Death Index users. The Institute maintains a secure physical and computer environment for the Index and the data sets which are provided by researchers for matching with the Index.

Application

To formally apply for NDI access, researchers can obtain from the Institute an NDI data provision package (492KB PDF). This package gives instructions as to what data formats are required, a description of the NDI, an Institute charging guideline, the legislation covering the use of NDI data and the AIHW Ethics Committee application forms. The application package can also be obtained by telephoning the Institute on 02 6244 1000 or emailing .