Investigating years of life lost in Belgium, 2004–2019: A comprehensive analysis using a probabilistic redistribution approach

Brecht Devleesschauwer, Aline Scohy, Robby De Pauw, Vanessa Gorasso, Anne Kongs, Elias Neirynck, Peter Verduyckt, Grant Wyper, Laura Van den Borre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction Information on years of life lost (YLL) due to premature mortality is instrumental to assess the fatal impact of disease and necessary for the calculation of Belgian disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). This study presents a novel method to reallocate causes of death data.
Materials and methods Causes of death data are provided by Statistics Belgium (Statbel). First, the specific ICD-10 codes that define the underlying cause of death are mapped to the GBD cause list. Second, ill-defined deaths (IDDs) are redistributed to specific ICD-10 codes. A four-step probabilistic redistribution was developed to fit the Belgian context: redistribution using predefined ICD codes, redistribution using multiple causes of death data, internal redistribution, and redistribution to all causes. Finally, we used the GBD 2019 reference life table to calculate Standard Expected Years of Life Lost (SEYLL).
Results In Belgium, between 2004 and 2019, IDDs increased from 31 to 34% of all deaths. The majority was redistributed using predefined ICD codes (14–15%), followed by the redistribution using multiple causes of death data (10–12%). The total number of SEYLL decreased from 1.83 to 1.73 million per year. In 2019, the top cause of SEYLL was lung cancer with a share of 8.5%, followed by ischemic heart disease (8.1%) and Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias (5.7%). All results are available in an online tool
Conclusion The redistribution process assigned a specific cause of death to all deaths in Belgium, making it possible to investigate the full mortality burden for the first time. A large number of estimates were produced to estimate SEYLL by age, sex, and region for a large number of causes of death and every year between 2004 and 2019. These estimates are important stepping stones for future investigations on Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) in Belgium.
Original languageEnglish
Article number160
Number of pages12
JournalArchives of Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was conducted within the framework of the Belgian National Burden of Disease Study (BeBOD), coordinated by Sciensano, the Belgian institute for health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, BioMed Central Ltd., part of Springer Nature.

Copyright 2023 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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