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Northern Ireland Mortality Study

The Northern Ireland Mortality Study (NIMS) is a large scale data linkage study that links the 2001 Census returns for the whole of the Northern Ireland population (approximately 1.6 million people) to subsequently registered mortality data.  The larger cohort study (compared to the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study – NILS) enables more robust examination of sub populations and specific causes of death. It was set up alongside NILS to allow investigation of the changing profile of population characteristics unique to Northern Ireland.

The NIMS is managed by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA). A dedicated research support unit (NILS-RSU) has been set up to provide advice and guidance for potential users of the study. The NIMS has been available since 2006.

The administrative data held in the NIMS includes:

  • Census data from 2001 covering personal characteristics, family, housing, education, economic activity, migration and health.
  • General Register Office data covering age, address, year of death, employment details, social class, marital  status.
  • LPS Property Data.

Detailed information on the data held in NIMS is available by downloading the ‘Introduction to NILS’ document towards the bottom of this page.

The overall rate of linkage between mortality data and the 2001 Census in NIMS for the first five years was 94%.  Non linkage was primarily due to non-enumeration in the Census, people who came to Northern Ireland and subsequently died and to differences between the information collected on the census form and the death certificate.

Potential for research
The completeness of NIMS allows more robust analyses of smaller population subsets than is generally possible using other UK longitudinal studies. For example, one strand of research has focused on health outcomes associated with the different religious denominations in Northern Ireland.  The NIMS also facilitates study of less frequent causes of death such as suicide and mortality related to alcohol consumption.

NIMS can also be used in areas such as equality analyses, population trends, mortality studies, the impact of new public health policies and the planning of services.  Details of publications available using NIMS is available from the NILS-RSU website here.

Application procedure
NIMS data is confidential and all access to it is regarded as sensitive. Data can only be accessed from within the NISRA safe setting.  The NILS-RSU has a step by step application procedure:

Step 1: Formulate your research question using information on the NILS-RSU website.
Step 2: Contact the NILS-RSU to further develop your ideas.
Step 3: Attend a training session.
Step 4: Complete an application form.
Step 5: Gain approval from the NILS Research Approvals Group.
Step 6: Complete a licence agreement.

Detailed information on the application procedure is available from the NILS-RSU website here.

Further information
For further information on NIMS please contact NILS-RSU by:
1. Phone on 028 9082 8210.
2. Email

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