Introduction: The Kivalliq region of Nunavut, Canada, had a 1996 population of 7,131, of which 87% were Inuit. An attempt was made to characterize patterns of mortality in the region.
Study design: Descriptive regional mortality study, based on 10-year retrospective review of health records data.
Methods: All deaths and stillbirths of Kivalliq residents during the study period were identified. Available health records data were reviewed for each death, including medical charts, death certificates and coroner's reports where applicable. Age-standardized mortality rates, both overall and cause-specific, were calculated and compared to both Canadian national rates and territorial rates from the same time period.
Results: The infant mortality rate was 32.3/1,000 live births, five times Canada's rate. Leading causes of infant deaths were prematurity and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The overall mortality rate was 1.8 times that of Canada, with leading causes of death being cancers (especially lung cancer), circulatory disease, respiratory disease, unintentional injury and suicide.
Conclusions: Identified areas of concern included mortality due to premature birth, SIDS, unintentional injuries, suicides, respiratory disease and lung cancer. It is hoped that this study's results will assist territorial leaders, health workers and citizens in health planning activities.