How is NCIS data collected?
The NCIS contains coronial cases of all Australian states and territories dating back to 1 July 2000, with the exception of Queensland. Queensland data collection begins from 1 January 2001 and New Zealand data is available for deaths reported from 1 July 2007.
The data contained in the NCIS is sourced from the coronial brief created as part of the investigation conducted by a coroner into the death of an individual. This information is coded by court staff and securely transferred to the NCIS. Information contained on the NCIS includes demographic data about the deceased, the cause and manner (circumstances) of the death, contextual information about the circumstances and medico-legal documentation – for example, coronial finding, autopsy (cause of death) report, police summary of death and toxicology report.
As the data contained in NCIS is collected as part of the coronial investigation process – and not a data collection process – the level of detail and comprehensiveness of NCIS data can vary.
NCIS coding reflects the coronial finding that includes the coroner’s determination of the ‘intent’ of a deceased person. Where a coroner finds the deceased did intend to end their own life, the case is coded as ‘Intent = Intentional Self-Harm’. Where the mechanism of death and incident causing death are possible suicides but a coroner makes no finding about intent, these cases are coded as ‘Intent = undetermined’.
- Further information is available at NCIS Data Sources
What happens with the data?
Coronial data collected throughout the coronial investigation is transferred via secure upload processes to the NCIS. The utility of data relies on its consistent and accurate coding. As such, all data in the NCIS is subject to a formal quality assurance process to ensure the coded information is consistent and accurate.
The file created as part of the coronial investigation is generated to support the work of the coroner. Population of the NCIS is a secondary purpose of the coronial investigation and data collection is the result of operational processes which differ between the nine jurisdictions. Each coronial jurisdiction is governed by a Coroners Act, which are subject to amendments over time. Therefore, there will be differences in the processes, type and comprehensiveness of data collection. While these differences have an impact on the information available on the NCIS, as far as possible, data is coded and presented in a nationally standardised format.
The NCIS utilises the expertise of both the investigating coroner and pathologist. The medical cause of death is determined by the medical specialist (pathologist). The primary and secondary causes of death refer to the contextual or environmental factors which cause or contribute to the death. These factors are coded on the NCIS as the object and mechanism causing death. To reflect the context, the NCIS accommodates primary and secondary object and mechanism coding.
The NCIS data code set and classifications are based on standardised classification, the International Classification of External Causes of Injury (ICECI), with some modifications to reflect scenarios specific to an Australian and New Zealand context. In addition, coders have the option of utilising free-text fields to accurately record the circumstances of the death, as outlined in the coronial finding and other supporting documents.
- Further information is available at NCIS Data Quality
Limitations of Data Collection
The NCIS data is coded based on the finding of the investigating coroner. The NCIS may contain preliminary information regarding newly reported deaths, however most coding and documentation will not be available until the coroner has completed an investigation and the case is closed on the NCIS. Generally, the more recent the time period, the greater the likelihood a significant proportion of coronial cases will remain open or under investigation with the investigating coroner.
The data entered into the NCIS is collected from source material such as the police narrative of circumstances, autopsy report, toxicology report and coronial finding. NCIS acknowledges that the content and consistency of these documents may vary between and within each jurisdiction. It is also noted that the primary intention of these documents is for death investigation purposes in order to find the circumstances and cause of death. As a result, there may be limitations when these documents are applied for public health use.