Agreement of occupation and industry data on Rhode Island death certificates with two alternative sources of information

Public Health Rep. 1985 Jan-Feb;100(1):65-72.


There is increasing interest in documenting the putative health effects of occupational hazards, prompting Federal and State efforts that rely primarily on occupational information obtained from the death certificate. Previous studies have assessed the agreement of occupational data on death certificates with actual lifetime employment by using current employment data from census records for comparisons. Such analyses have largely been confined to males. We compared lifetime occupational information obtained from a panel survey for both sexes with death certificate data for 446 deceased panel members. After adjusting for inadequate information, the occupation recorded on the death certificates of the men agreed with the occupation recorded in the survey 66 percent of the time. The comparable percentage for the industry where the deceased had been employed was 78 percent. Among the women's records, agreement on occupation was 65 percent, and on industry, 69 percent. Using another sample of death certificates, comparisons of the information for 322 decedents with city directory data produced similar results. The higher level of agreement for women was due in part to the large number who were reported as "housewives." In a separate analysis, the agreement rate for nonhousewives declined. Suggestions for improvements in the recording of occupational data and the constraints imposed by the use of death certificate data in occupational epidemiology are presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Death Certificates*
  • Humans
  • Occupations*
  • Rhode Island
  • Sex Factors