Tag Archives: vital registration

U.S. county mortality paper

The U.S. county mortality paper, a study analyzing 21 cause groups of death in every U.S. county from 1980 through 2014, was published in JAMA on December 13th along with a trove of other useful resources on county health including updated county profiles, an updated US Health Map data tool, a new US Data GHDx page, a new animated GIF, and two videos produced by JAMA.

Congratulations to IHME study authors Laura Dwyer-Lindgren, Amelia Bertozzi-Villa, Rebecca Stubbs, Chloe Morozoff, Michael Kutz, Chantal Huynh, Ryan Barber, Katya Shackleford, Abraham Flaxman, Mohsen Naghavi, Ali Mokdad, and Christopher Murray.

Additional congrats to the Global Engagement Team (GET) members and alumni involved in the dissemination of these important findings: Dean Owen, Kevin O’Rourke, Kate Muller, Bill Heisel, Dawn Shepard, Sofia Cababa Wood, Katie Leach-Kemon, Adrienne Chew, Pauline Kim, Rachel Fortunati, and Kayla Albrecht.

Stories by CNN, HealthDay, NBC, and Reuters were picked up by hundreds of local news stations and papers across the nation, totaling nearly 500 media mentions since 8:00am Tuesday. Here are a few of the top news stories covering the paper; many include their own graphics using IHME county mortality data:
• Janet Adamy with the Wall Street Journal wrote What kills Americans varies widely by region. ““It’s much more complicated than saying ‘Everything’s bad in Mississippi and Alabama, and everything’s good in places with high life expectancy,’” said Christopher J. L. Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington and an author of the study.”
• Olga Khazan with the Atlantic wrote Why are so many Americans dying young? “’A place like Colorado, there’s an incredibly low death rate for heart disease, one of the lowest in the world, and low rate for diabetes,’ Murray said. ‘If you look at places like West Virginia, things are getting worse, and it’s not just opioids.’”
• Jacqueline Howard with CNN wrote What’s the most common cause of death in your county? “’We know that unequal access and quality of care create health disparities in the US for many causes of death, while other causes are linked to risk factors or policies. The results of this study prompt future research to further identify what drives health disparities in our country,’ said Dr. Christopher Murray, a professor and director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, who was a co-author of the new study.”
• Anna Maria Barry-Jester with FiveThirtyEight wrote How Americans die may depend on where they live. “Lead author Laura Dwyer-Lindgren, a researcher at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, says she hopes the data can be useful to local health workers and the public. ‘If you go to any state health coordinator, they probably know what was recorded on the death certificates. But it can be really difficult to interpret them,’ she said. She hopes that collapsing the various causes of death down to 21, rather than looking at everything that can kill a person, will make it easier to target regional problems.”
• Maggie Fox with NBC News wrote Where you live determines what kills you. “’Heart disease is particularly high in the southeast of the United States,’ said Murray, who has pioneered many different ways to crunch health statistics. Experts know lifestyle — poor diet, a lack of exercise and less access to good medical care — are mostly to blame.”
• Andrew Seaman with Reuters wrote U.S. death rates vary drastically by county. “’Within any individual county, knowing how big of a problem a condition is’ can help counties know which conditions need attention, resources and policies, said the study’s lead author Laura Dwyer-Lindgren, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle.”
• Dennis Thompson with HealthDay wrote Where you live may determine how you die, which was picked up by U.S. News and World Report. “Armed with this sort of information, county and city health departments can focus their efforts on the specific problems affecting their communities, said lead researcher Ali Mokdad. He is a professor with the department of global health at the University of Washington, in Seattle.”
• Julia Belluz and Sarah Frostenson wrote These maps show how Americans are dying younger. It’s not just the opioid epidemic. “Different geographic regions are experiencing extreme variations in despair-related outcomes like suicides, drug overdoses, and heart disease, said Abraham Flaxman of the University of Washington, one of the authors of the new JAMA paper. ‘If you look at geographic patterns, you can say it’s despair that’s leading people to drink and do drugs. But then why wouldn’t that apply to leading people to overeat and become obese and diabetic? These trends are happening in different places.’”
• Agata Blaszczak-Boxe with Live Science wrote Leading causes of death in US vary greatly by region. “The reasons why higher death rates vary across geographic areas are not completely clear, but the authors suggested some ideas. For example, the higher death rates from cardiovascular diseases might have something to do with higher rates of obesity in these areas, said study co-author Christopher J. L. Murray.
• Carolyn Gregoire with the Huffington Post wrote This GIF sums up the impact of addiction and mental illness on America. “In a cluster of counties in Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio, researchers uncovered striking death toll increases of 1,000 percent or more. Topping the list were Clermont County, Ohio (the site of one of the worst heroin epidemics in the state), which saw a 2,206 percent spike, and opioid-stricken Boone County, West Virginia, with a 2,030 percent increase.”
• (UK) Mia De Graff with the Daily Mail wrote What is the typical cause of death in YOUR county? Incredible maps show leading killers in each region of America. “Where you live determines how you die. That is the conclusion of a new study that lays bare the most common causes of death county-by-county across the United States, and how it has changed since 1980.”
• (UK) Celine Gounder with the Guardian wrote How long will you live? That depends on your zip code. “In an analysis of 80 million deaths in the United States between 1980 and 2014, a study published on Tuesday finds dramatic differences not only in life expectancy, but also in cause of death from county to county. ‘We’re not narrowing the gap. The gap is widening,’ said Christopher JL Murray, one of the authors of the study.”

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CVRS in 2010 Report

Perhaps more than I ever wanted to know about the state of the birth and death registration system in South Africa circa 2010: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/CRVS/Technical%20report%20SADC%20final%20v2.pdf


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Through the algorithmic lens, doctors = noise machines

A few years ago, some concerned citizens of TCS, like Sanjeev Arora and Bernard Chazelle, came up with this idea to promote the applications of algorithmic ideas more widely.  Chazelle’s essay The Algorithm: Idiom of Modern Science is an example of this (with lots of nice pictures).  The name for this world view seems to be “The Algorithmic Lens”.

I like the way that sounds, but it makes me imagine how kids will scorch ants with a magnifying glass.  Maybe that is not the best mental imagery to frame interdisciplinary research.

This post is about an application of algorithmic thinking in health metrics. I hope I don’t burn the public health docs with my highly focused beam of algorithms. (That reminds me, if you can’t understand what I’m talking about, and want to, you can leave a comment with questions. I’ll answer. It’s likely that no one else understands what I’m talking about either.)

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