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Article
December 8, 1956

THE ENIGMA OF CAUSE OF DEATH

Author Affiliations

Minneapolis

Professor of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota. Dr. Treloar is now Director of Research, American Hospital Association, Chicago.

JAMA. 1956;162(15):1376-1379. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.02970320024007
Abstract

† The causation of a given death is always multiple, so that the necessity of selecting a single cause for purposes of tabulation has become a distressing problem. The solution depends on the purpose for which the information is to be used. For the purposes of preventive medicine the single cause of death hitherto given has been very useful, but it would be even more valuable to indicate all those terminal morbidity conditions that meet desirable standards in defining important diseases. This would also relieve the physician of the unwelcome task of designating the dominant cause unless he wishes to do so by underscoring one.

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