Socioeconomic differences in the use of ill-defined causes of death in 16 European countriesReport as inadecuate

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BMC Public Health

, 14:1295

Health behavior, health promotion and society


BackgroundCause-of-death data linked to information on socioeconomic position form one of the most important sources of information about health inequalities in many countries. The proportion of deaths from ill-defined conditions is one of the indicators of the quality of cause-of-death data. We investigated educational differences in the use of ill-defined causes of death in official mortality statistics.

MethodsUsing age-standardized mortality rates from 16 European countries, we calculated the proportion of all deaths in each educational group that were classified as due to -Symptoms, signs and ill-defined conditions-. We tested if this proportion differed across educational groups using Chi-square tests.

ResultsThe proportion of ill-defined causes of death was lower than 6.5% among men and 4.5% among women in all European countries, without any clear geographical pattern. This proportion statistically significantly differed by educational groups in several countries with in most cases a higher proportion among less than secondary educated people compared with tertiary educated people.

ConclusionsWe found evidence for educational differences in the distribution of ill-defined causes of death. However, the differences between educational groups were small suggesting that socioeconomic inequalities in cause-specific mortality in Europe are not likely to be biased.

KeywordsMortality Education Ill-defined causes of death Data quality Europe Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1471-2458-14-1295 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Author: Ivana Kulhánová - Gwenn Menvielle - Matthias Bopp - Carme Borrell - Patrick Deboosere - Terje A Eikemo - Rasmus Hoffmann


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