National Mortality Followback Survey (NMFS)

The Mortality Followback Survey Program, begun in the 1960’s by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), uses a sample of United States residents who die in a given year to supplement the death certificate with information from the next of kin or another person familiar with the decedent’s life history. This information, sometimes enhanced by administrative records, provides a unique opportunity to study the etiology of disease, demographic trends in mortality, and other health issues.

The first mortality followback survey, conducted in 1961, featured information on hospital and institutional care in the last year of life. Information from the 1962-63 survey permitted an extensive analysis of socioeconomic differentials in mortality. Data from the 1964-65 survey included expenditures for health care during the last year of life, sources of payment, and health insurance coverage of decedents. The 1966-68 survey provided information on the link between smoking and cancer mortality. In 1986 the survey provided data on co-morbid conditions, disabilities, alcohol use, and access to health care services.

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