National Mortality Followback Survey, 1986 (ICPSR 9410)

Principal Investigator(s): United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Center for Health Statistics


The 1986 National Mortality Followback Survey (NMFS) is the first National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) mortality followback study since the 1966-1968 survey of the same name (ICPSR 8370). The 1986 NMFS supplements characteristics of mortality found in the routine vital statistics system by collecting information from death certificate informants or other knowledgeable relatives, and from health care facilities that were used by decedents in the last year of life. The death records provide demographic data on the decedent and information on the circumstances of death (location, time, underlying causes, and other health conditions at time of death) and use of medical facilities in the preceding year. Additional issues addressed in the informant questionnaire were health care sought and provided in the last year of life, risk factors associated with premature death, socioeconomic status and mortality, and reliability of selected items reported on the death certificate. Health care facilities provided information on diagnosis, diagnostic and surgical procedures performed on the decedent, and length of stay.

Series: National Mortality Followback Survey Series

Access Notes

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DS0:  Study-Level Files
DS1:  1986 Full File - Download All Files (55.619 MB)
DS2:  Person Extract File - Download All Files (28.698 MB)
DS3:  Health Care Facilities Extract File - Download All Files (32.276 MB)
DS4:  Dictionary Listings and Univariate Statistics for Parts 2-3
No downloadable data files available.

Study Description


United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Center for Health Statistics. National Mortality Followback Survey, 1986. ICPSR09410-v2. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2016-02-18.

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Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    causes of death, death records, demographic characteristics, disease, health, health services utilization, medical care, medical evaluation, medical history, medical procedures, mortality rates, population trends, risk factors, socioeconomic status, vital statistics

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 1986

Date of Collection:   

  • 1986

Universe:    All death certificates for decedents 25 years of age or older who died in 1986 in the United States (excluding Oregon, due to Oregon's respondent consent requirements).

Data Type(s):    event/transaction data, survey data

Data Collection Notes:

Per agreement with NCHS, ICPSR distributes the data file and technical documentation in this collection in their original form as prepared by NCHS.

Part 1, a hierarchical file, has two levels of records. The first level, which provides one record for each of the decedents in this study, contains information from death certificates and the informant questionnaire. The second level contains data from health care facilities as collected in the Facility Abstract Records (FARS). Each decedent may have up to six facility records, one for each health care facility entered in the last year of life. Each health care facility record can accommodate up to 20 episodes of care received in that facility. Each episode of care has 17 variables covering diagnosis, procedures, and length of stay. Of the decedents in this study, 12,275 have one or more facility-level records.

The race distribution for this file is White (N = 13,303), Black (N = 4,759), American Indian, Aleut, and Eskimo (N = 540), and other (N = 131). The age distribution for the file is 25-54 (N = 6,384), 55-64 (N = 3,496), 65-74 (N = 3,895), 75-84 (N = 2,366), and 85+ (N = 2,592).


Sample:    A nationally representative sample of death certificates for adults over 25 years of age who died in 1986. The 1986 sampling frame is composed of the death certificates selected for the 1986 Current Mortality Sample, a 10 percent sample of the state death certificates. All Native Americans were included, as were selected age/gender strata for asthma, cancer, and ischemic heart disease deaths. Black decedents and decedents under 55 were oversampled. Sample weights are provided.

Data Source:

death certificates, informant questionnaires, and Facility Abstract Records (FARS)

Extent of Processing:   ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.

Restrictions: In preparing the data tape(s) for this collection, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has removed direct identifiers and characteristics that might lead to identification of data subjects. As an additional precaution, NCHS requires, under section 308(d) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 242m), that data collected by NCHS not be used for any purpose other than statistical analysis and reporting. NCHS further requires that analysts not use the data to learn the identity of any persons or establishments and that the director of NCHS be notified if any identities are inadvertently discovered. ICPSR member institutions and other users ordering data from ICPSR are expected to adhere to these restrictions.


Original ICPSR Release:   1990-12-04

Version History:

  • 2006-01-18 File CB9410.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.

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