Capturing deaths not informed to the Ministry of Health: proactive search of deaths in Brazilian municipalities

<p></p><p>ABSTRACT: Introduction: The proactive search of deaths is a strategy for capturing events that were not informed to the Mortality Information System of Ministry of Health. Its importance to reduce underreporting of deaths and to evaluate the operation of the information system is widely known. Objective: To describe the methodology and main findings of the Proactive Search of Deaths, 2013, establishing the contribution of different information sources. Methods: The research was carried out in 79 Brazilian municipalities. We investigated several official and unofficial sources of information about deaths of municipality residents. Every information source investigated and all cases found in each source were typed in an on-line panel. The second stage of the research was the confirmation of cases to verify information of year and residence and to complete missing information. For all confirmed cases, we estimated the completeness of death registration and correction factors according to the adequacy level of mortality information. Results: We found 2,265 deaths that were not informed to the Mortality Information System. From those, 49.3% were found in unofficial sources, cemeteries and funeral homes. In some rural municipalities, precarious burial conditions were found in cemeteries in the middle of the forest and no registration of the deceased. Correction factors were inversely associated to the adequacy level of mortality information. Conclusion: The findings confirm the association between level of information adequacy and completeness of death registration, and indicate that the application of the proactive search is an effective method to capture deaths not informed to the Ministry of Health.</p><p></p>