Mortality data linkage now available from the 45 and Up Study

The Sax Institute’s 45 and Up Study has gained approval to provide mortality data on Study participants, making it easier and quicker for researchers to get the information they need.

The data comes from the National Death Index, a database administered by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. The database covers the period 2005 to 2023 with approximately 65,000 death records available and annual data updates expected. Approved researchers will be able to obtain data on when a participant dies, and their cause of death, directly from the Study.

“This new linkage is going to be a significant time-saver for the majority of our researchers,” says Dr Kerrin Bleicher, Director of Research Assets at the Sax Institute. “In the past, researchers had to obtain data on deaths themselves, which can take many months.”

Having this data held by the 45 and Up Study means that researchers can quickly access clean data on participants’ deaths. “It will be particularly helpful for researchers looking at health service use, as they will be able to account for the ‘competing risk of death’ which will improve the validity of their analyses,” says Dr Bleicher.

Another key benefit of this linkage is that it gives researchers a more complete record of death. “If a researcher accesses death data through NSW databases, they won’t know about deaths of Study participants that occurred outside of NSW,” says Dr Bleicher. “Now they’ll know if someone dies in any other state or territory.”

The data can be linked to all data from the 45 and Up Study including baseline and follow-up questionnaires, the COVID Insights surveys, MBS and PBS data, hospitalisations and many other administrative datasets.

Researchers are invited to contact the 45 and Up Study to find out more about the National Death Index data and lodge their interest in using it. “We’re keen to hear from researchers so we can ensure our long-term investment in this data,” says Dr Bleicher.