Fetal death certificate data quality: a tale of two U.S. counties
PURPOSE: Describe the relative frequency and joint effect of missing and misreported fetal death certificate (FDC) data and identify variations by key characteristics.
METHODS: Stillbirths were prospectively identified during 2006-2008 for a multisite population-based case-control study. For this study, eligible mothers of stillbirths were not incarcerated residents of DeKalb County, Georgia, or Salt Lake County, Utah, aged ≥13 years, with an identifiable FDC. We identified the frequency of missing and misreported (any departure from the study value) FDC data by county, race/ethnicity, gestational age, and whether the stillbirth was antepartum or intrapartum.
RESULTS: Data quality varied by item and was highest in Salt Lake County. Reporting was generally not associated with maternal or delivery characteristics. Reasons for poor data quality varied by item in DeKalb County: some items were frequently missing and misreported; however, others were of poor quality due to either missing or misreported data.
CONCLUSIONS: FDC data suffer from missing and inaccurate data, with variations by item and county. Salt Lake County data illustrate that high quality reporting is attainable. The overall quality of reporting must be improved to support consequential epidemiologic analyses for stillbirth, and improvement efforts should be tailored to the needs of each jurisdiction.