How to estimate mortality trends from grouped vital statistics

Silvia Rizzi, Ulrich Halekoh, Mikael Thinggaard, Gerda Engholm, Niels Christensen, Tom Børge Johannesen, Rune Lindahl-Jacobsen

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

69 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Mortality data at the population level are often aggregated in age classes, for example 5-year age groups with an open-ended interval for the elderly aged 85+. Capturing detailed age-specific mortality patterns and mortality time trends from such coarsely grouped data can be problematic at older ages, especially where open-ended intervals are used.

Methods: We illustrate the penalized composite link model (PCLM) for ungrouping to model cancer mortality surfaces. Smooth age-specific distributions from data grouped in age classes of adjacent calendar years were estimated by constructing a two-dimensional regression, based on B-splines, and maximizing a penalized likelihood. We show the applicability of the proposed model, analysing age-at-death distributions from cancers of all sites in Denmark from 1980 to 2014. Data were retrieved from the Danish Cancer Society and the Human Mortality Database.

Results: The main trends captured by PCLM are: (i) a decrease in cancer mortality rates after the 1990s for ages 50-75; (ii) a decrease in cancer mortality in later cohorts for young ages, especially, and very advanced ages. Comparing the raw data by single year of age, with the PCLM-ungrouped distributions, we clearly illustrate that the model fits the data with a high level of accuracy.

Conclusions: The PCLM produces detailed smooth mortality surfaces from death counts observed in coarse age groups with modest assumptions, that is Poisson distributed counts and smoothness of the estimated distribution. Hence, the method has great potential for use within epidemiological research when information is to be gained from aggregated data, because it avoids strict assumptions about the actual distributional shape.

TidsskriftInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)571-582
StatusUdgivet - 2019


Dyk ned i forskningsemnerne om 'How to estimate mortality trends from grouped vital statistics'. Sammen danner de et unikt fingeraftryk.