This study aimed to analyze trends in the 10 leading causes of death in Korea from 1983 to 2012. Death rates were derived from the Korean Statistics Information Service database and age-adjusted to the 2010 population. Joinpoint regression analysis was used to identify the points when statistically significant changes occurred in the trends. Between 1983 and 2012, the age-standardized death rate (ASR) from all causes decreased by 61.6% for men and 51.2% for women. ASRs from malignant neoplasms, diabetes mellitus, and transport accidents increased initially before decreasing. ASRs from hypertensive diseases, heart diseases, cerebrovascular diseases and diseases of the liver showed favorable trends (ASR % change: -94.4%, -53.8%, -76.0%, and -78.9% for men, and -77.1%, -36.5%, -67.8%, and -79.9% for women, respectively). ASRs from pneumonia decreased until the mid-1990s and thereafter increased. ASRs from intentional self-harm increased persistently since around 1990 (ASR % change: 122.0% for men and 217.4% for women). In conclusion, death rates from all causes in Korea decreased significantly in the last three decades except in the late 1990s. Despite the great strides made in the overall mortality, temporal trends varied widely by cause. Mortality trends for malignant neoplasms, diabetes mellitus, pneumonia and intentional self-harm were unfavorable.
Keywords: Cause of Death; Joinpoint; Korea; Mortality; Trend.