Skip to main content

01.12.2019 | Technical advance | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2019

New ways of estimating excess mortality of chronic diseases from aggregated data: insights from the illness-death model

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2019
Ralph Brinks, Thaddäus Tönnies, Annika Hoyer
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12889-019-7201-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.



Recently, we have shown that the age-specific prevalence of a disease can be related to the transition rates in the illness-death model via a partial differential equation (PDE). The transition rates are the incidence rate, the remission rate and mortality rates from the ‘Healthy’ and ‘Ill’ states. In case of a chronic disease, we now demonstrate that the PDE can be used to estimate the excess mortality from age-specific prevalence and incidence data. For the prevalence and incidence, aggregated data are sufficient - no individual subject data are needed, which allows application of the methods in contexts of strong data protection or where data from individual subjects is not accessible.


After developing novel estimators for the excess mortality derived from the PDE, we apply them to simulated data and compare the findings with the input values of the simulation aiming to evaluate the new approach. In a practical application to claims data from 35 million men insured by the German public health insurance funds, we estimate the population-wide excess mortality of men with diagnosed type 2 diabetes.


In the simulation study, we find that the estimation of the excess mortality is feasible from prevalence and incidence data if the prevalence is given at two points in time. The accuracy of the method decreases as the temporal difference between these two points in time increases. In our setting, the relative error was 5% and below if the temporal difference was three years or less. Application of the new method to the claims data yields plausible findings for the excess mortality of type 2 diabetes in German men.


The described approach is useful to estimate the excess mortality of a chronic condition from aggregated age-specific incidence and prevalence data.

Trial registration

The article does not report the results of any health care intervention.
Über diesen Artikel

Weitere Artikel der Ausgabe 1/2019

BMC Public Health 1/2019 Zur Ausgabe