The accuracy of occupation and industry data on death certificates

J Occup Med. 1984 Apr;26(4):288-96.


To assess the accuracy of occupation and industry data on death certificates, we compared the known occupation and industry of 3,789 individuals with information on their death certificates. All individuals were members of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health cohort studies and their occupation and industry were known from personnel or union records. We focused our analysis on 2,198 long-term workers who had 10 or more years of work experience (average, 18 years). Our principal finding was that for the long-term workers in our sample, the probability of the known occupation being listed on their death certificates was 64.7% (SE = 1.1) (for white workers this figure was 73.5% (SE = 1.2). Furthermore, for the long-term workers the probability of the plant or industry being named on their death certificates was 70.1% (SE = 1.2). Women and non-whites had lower matching rates. For women the probability of a matched listing was 45.1% for occupation and 60.4% for industry. For nonwhites, it was only 30.1% for occupation and 49.2% for industry. Our results for white long-term workers generally agree with the results of previous investigators who have used different methods.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • Death Certificates*
  • Ethnic Groups
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Industry*
  • Male
  • Mortality
  • Occupations*
  • Sex Factors
  • United States