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Technical Notes

Occupational coding program

Occupational Mortality Database - Occupational Coding Program 

The Department of Health developed a simple word-matching computer program to code occupation entries from vital records. The program has been used since 1992 to code birth and death certificates in Washington State. The program is written in SAS and can run on any computer that uses SAS. In routine use here, the computer system codes 96-97% of the occupation entries on birth and death records.

We evaluated the accuracy of the program by comparing its output to codes assigned by human coders. In the evaluation, it assigned the correct code on 89% (95% confidence interval (87%, 91%)) of the records it coded.

The occupation coding program is both efficient and accurate and can simplify the process of coding occupation entries from vital records. The program is adaptable and can be modified to use occupation classifications other than the one used in Washington State.

Below are links to a preprint describing the coding system, a table of the occupation codes, the SAS programs used to code occupation, and the occupational coding dictionary that the SAS programs use.

Additional information:

Eric Ossiander  <>
Office of Epidemiology
WA State Department of Health
PO Box 47812
101 Israel Rd SE
Tumwater, WA 98504-7812