Alaska native mortality, 1979-1998

Public Health Rep. 2003 Nov-Dec;118(6):518-30. doi: 10.1093/phr/118.6.518.


Objectives: This study compares mortality patterns for the Alaska Native population and the U.S. white population for 1989-1998 and examines trends for the 20-year period 1979-1998.

Methods: The authors used death certificate data and Indian Health Service population estimates to calculate mortality rates for the Alaska Native population, age-adjusted to the U.S. 1940 standard million. Data on population and mortality for U.S. whites, aggregated by 10-year age groups and by gender, were obtained from the National Center for Health Statistics, and U.S. white mortality rates were age-adjusted to the U.S. 1940 standard million.

Results: Overall, 1989-1998 Alaska Native mortality rates were 60% higher than those for the U.S. white population for the same period. There were significant disparities for eight of 10 leading causes of death, particularly unintentional injury, suicide, and homicide/legal intervention. Although declines in injury rates can be documented for the period 1979-1998, large disparities still exist. Alaska Native death rates for cancer, cerebrovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diabetes increased from 1979 to 1998. Given decreases in some cause-specific mortality rates in the U.S. white population, increased rates among Alaska Natives have resulted in new disparities.

Conclusions: These data indicate that improvements in injury mortality rates are offset by marked increases in chronic disease deaths.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Alaska / epidemiology
  • Cause of Death / trends
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Death Certificates
  • Disease / classification
  • Disease / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Inuits / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Whites / statistics & numerical data