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Rehabilitation Dataset Directory: Dataset Profile

Dataset: National Death Index (NDI)

Basic Information
Dataset Full Name National Death Index
Dataset Acronym NDI
Summary The National Death Index (NDI) is a national, computerized registry of death records compiled from vital statistics records submitted to the NCHS by each state's vital statistics office. Established by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the NDI can be used for conducting retrospective and prospective health services and epidemiological research. Since 1979, the NDI has collected death-related information (cause of death primarily) with records updated annually. The NDI includes information about location of death (state), the date of death, and corresponding death certificate numbers. Investigators can obtain cause of death codes available as an International Classification of Diseases (ICD) code using the NDI Plus service (for an additional cost).
Key Terms Mortality, National Center for Health Statistics, Death certificate, Cause of death, Death records
Study Design Cross-Sectional
Data Type(s) Administrative
Sponsoring Agency/Entity

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Health Conditions/Disability Measures
Health Condition(s) ICD-9/10 diagnostic codes (for underlying cause of death)
Disability Measures NA
Measures/Outcomes of Interest
Topics State where death occurred, date of death, death certificate numbers, underlying cause of death (ICD-9/10 diagnostic codes)
Sample Population All deaths in the United States since 1979
Sample Size/Notes Approximately 2.4 million new death records each year.
Unit of Observation Individual
Continent(s) North America

United States

Geographic Coverage National
Geographic Specificity State
Data Collection
Data Collection Mode Each state's vital statistics office submits their death records to NCHS. NCHS compiles these records into a national, computerized registry.
Years Collected 1979-present
Data Collection Frequency Annual
Strengths and Limitations
Strengths The NDI can be linked to various NCHS surveys (National Health Interview Survey, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Longitudinal Study of Aging, and National Nursing Home Surveys, to name few), administrative claims data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), United States Renal data system (USRDS), Disability Insurance (RSDI), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit data from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Can be linked to other surveys if they contain the data items required to perform the search/matching process (see limitations).
Limitations Utility as a standalone dataset is limited. Matching of subjects to the NDI database requires as many of the following data items as possible for each subject: first and last name, middle initial, father's surname, Social Security Number, month, day, and year of birth, race, sex, marital status, state of residence, and state of birth. Each record must contain at least one of the following combinations of data items to be eligible for an NDI search: FIRST and LAST NAME and SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER FIRST and LAST NAME and MONTH and YEAR OF BIRTH SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER and full DATE OF BIRTH and SEX
Data Details
Primary Website
Data Access
Data Access Requirements Data Use agreement, $ Cost
Summary Tables/Reports NA
Data Components NA
Selected Papers
Other Papers

Bibliography of NDI’s Performance:

Bibliography of NDI in Health Research:

Citation Lists:


National Death Index User’s Guide:

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The Rehabilitation Research Cross-dataset Variable Catalog has been developed through the Center for Large Data Research & Data Sharing in Rehabilitation (CLDR). The Center for Large Data Research and Data Sharing in Rehabilitation involves a consortium of investigators from the University of Texas Medical Branch, Cornell University's Yang Tan Institute (YTI), and the University of Michigan. The CLDR is funded by NIH - National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, through the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. (P2CHD065702).

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Acknowledgements: This tool was developed through the efforts of William Erickson and Arun Karpur, and web designers Jason Criss and Jeff Trondsen at Cornell University. Many thanks to graduate students Kyoung Jo Oh and Yeong Joon Yoon who developed much of the content used in this tool.

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