Factors associated with errors in death certificate completion. A national study in Taiwan

J Clin Epidemiol. 2001 Mar;54(3):232-8. doi: 10.1016/s0895-4356(00)00299-7.


To identify characteristics of certifying physicians and the deceased that are associated with errors in death certificate completion in Taiwan, we retrospectively reviewed 4123 systematically sampled death certificates issued in 1994. Multivariate analyses were used to assess the associations of various characteristics of the certifying physicians and the deceased with four types of error. Of the 4123 death certificates reviewed, 2525 (61%) were completed correctly. In 289 (7%), only the mechanism(s) of death was given (Major Error 1); in 146 (4%), multiple causal sequences were given in part I (Major Error 2); in 800 (19%), a single causal sequence was given but was not specific enough (Minor Error 1); and in 363 (9%), a single causal sequence was given but the order was incorrect (Minor Error 2). Multiple logistic regression analyses revealed that the probability of error in death certification increased as the age of the deceased increased, the age of the certifier decreased, and the level of the hospital decreased. These findings suggest that training in death certificate completion should focus on younger certifiers and those working at lower level teaching hospitals and nonteaching hospitals. Given the high rate of Minor Error 1, physicians should be reminded to state information as specifically as possible to render cause-of-death statistics more informative.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cause of Death*
  • Death Certificates*
  • Documentation / standards
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Taiwan / epidemiology