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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Forecasts of COPD mortality in Australia: 2006-2025

Bircan Erbas1*, Shahid Ullah2, Rob J Hyndman3, Michelle Scollo4 and Michael Abramson5

Author Affiliations

1 School of Public Health, La Trobe University, Rm 129, Health Sciences 1, Bundoora, Victoria, 3086, Australia

2 Flinders Centre for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Medicine, Flinders University, South Australia 5042, Australia

3 Department of Econometrics and Business Statistics, Monash University, Clayton 3800, Australia

4 VicHealth Centre for Tobacco Control, The Cancer Council Victoria, 100 Drummond St, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia

5 School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Alfred Hospital, Monash University, Melbourne 3004, Australia

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BMC Medical Research Methodology 2012, 12:17  doi:10.1186/1471-2288-12-17

Published: 21 February 2012



Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is currently the fifth leading cause of death in Australia, and there are marked differences in mortality trends between men and women. In this study, we have sought to model and forecast age related changes in COPD mortality over time for men and women separately over the period 2006-2025.


Annual COPD death rates in Australia from 1922 to 2005 for age groups (50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69, 70-74, 75-79, 80-84, 85+) were used. Functional time series models of age-specific COPD mortality rates for men and women were used, and forecasts of mortality rates were modelled separately for men and women.


Functional time series models with four basis functions were fitted to each population separately. Twenty-year forecasts were computed, and indicated an overall decline. This decline may be slower for women than for men. By age, we expect similar rates of decline in men over time. In contrast, for women, forecasts for the age group 75-79 years suggest less of a decline over time compared to younger age groups.


By using a new method to predict age-specific trends in COPD mortality over time, this study provides important insights into at-risk age groups for men and women separately, which has implications for policy and program development.

COPD mortality; Functional data analysis; Tobacco consumption; Forecasting