Since all patients and their addresses are known, including postcode, and information is available from the decennial census regarding the relative deprivation levels of postcode areas, the so-called Carstairs deprivation score can be used as a relatively crude indicator of the socioeconomic status of patients (Carstairs, 1990; Evans et al., 1997a). The deprivation category component variables are the percentage of people in a postcode sector with no car, the percentage living in overcrowded housing, the percentage with the household head in semi- or unskilled occupations, and the percentage of men unemployed.
Details of all deaths in Tayside since 1989 are electronically recorded through a copy of the General Registers Office—Death Certification Database and held within MEMO. The date and underlying cause of death can be identified and linked to the MEMO database using the CHI number of the patient.
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