Cause of death statistics

What does the survey comprise?

Purpose

To obtain data and publicize on all causes of death of persons included in the Dutch population registers.

Population

All deaths of persons included in the Dutch population registers. In principle, all persons residing in the Netherlands for an indefinite period are entered in the population register of the municipality of usual residence.

Statistical unit

Deceased persons.

Date/year survey started

Since 1901.

Frequency

Per quarter and annually.

Publication strategy

Provisional figures are published per quarter and per year, definite figures are published later afterwards. The results are published in multiple tables on Statline.

How is the survey conducted?

Survey type

The cause of death statistic is a registration based on all the causes of death from all the deceased persons registered in the Netherlands.

Survey method

The information is based on the compulsory notification of cause of death by the physician treating the deceased at the time of death or by a pathologist. For every death a cause-of-death certificate is completed, which is sent, together with the death certificate to the population registration in the municipality in which the death took place. The cause-of-death certificate, which is used exclusively for statistical purposes, is subsequently sent to Statistics Netherlands. Since 2014 cause-of-death certificates are also sent digitally to Statistics Netherlands, through a secure connection.  As in previous years, WHO (World Health Organisation) guidelines are used where possible to classify and code causes of death. Only the underlying cause of death is reported. Until 2012 coding was done by hand and for each deceased person a maximum of three secondary causes of death were mentioned. From year under review 2013 coding is done automatically by IRIS and all underlying diseases on the cause-of-death certificate are coded.

According to the WHO coding guidelines, only one disease or event can be considered as the underlying cause, namely the disease or event which started the chain of events leading to death. This is called the underlying disease. Effects or complications of this disease are usually regarded as secondary causes of death, just as other diseases present at the time of death and which sometimes contributed to the death. For non-natural causes of death (external causes) the event is seen as the underlying cause of death and the injury concerned as the secondary cause. In the case of multiple causes of death it is especially difficult to determine the underlying cause. In these cases the proper choice is made by taking the rules and instructions of the WHO into account. Statistics Netherlands relies on the information supplied by the physicians. In a number of cases where the underlying cause is unclear, the physician concerned is asked for further information.

For euthanasia the underlying disease is considered as the underlying cause of death. Dying by euthanasia is considered a natural death.

Respondents

The cause-of-death form must be filled in by the physician treating the deceased at the time of death or by a pathologist.

Sample size

In the last 10 years between 130 and 150 thousand persons died in the Netherlands.

Checking and correction methods

Statistics Netherlands relies on the information supplied by the physicians. In a number of cases where the underlying cause is unclear, the physician concerned is asked for further information.

Weighting

Not applicable.

Quality of the results

Accuracy

In a limited number of cases the data received by Statistics Netherlands are incomplete. In such cases the missing data are estimated.

Sequential comparability

Until 2012 coding was done by hand and for each deceased person a maximum of three secondary causes of death were mentioned. From year under review 2013 coding is done automatically by IRIS and all underlying diseases on the cause-of-death certificate are coded.