contributory causes: the conditions that significantly contributed to the death but were not in the chain of events leading to death. Typically, these causes relate to prior or co-existing long-term health conditions, and social and other circumstances that were involved in the death. They highlight additional health conditions that could be the focus of prevention strategies, for example, the causes that contribute to chronic disease deaths.

direct causes: the health events that arise from the underlying cause. They can relate to consequences and complications of the underlying cause. Some direct causes reflect the health events experienced at the end of life, or conditions experienced for lengthy periods before death.

Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD): The international standard form for collecting cause of death information. The MCCD comprises of two parts. Part I is used for describing the underlying cause and the direct causes (the health events arising from the underlying cause) in the chain of events that led to death. In Part II, the certifier describes all other significant medical conditions and other circumstances that contributed to the death (that is, the contributory causes).

multiple causes: all the causes involved in causing the death (underlying, direct, and contributory). When assessed in combination these describe the most common conditions involved in causing deaths.

Standardised Ratio of Multiple to Underlying (SRMU): Compares the death rate for a specific cause of death based on the multiple causes with the death rate based on the underlying cause. The SRMU helps to understand the extent to which people die from a cause compared with dying with the cause.

underlying cause: the condition which initiated the chain of events leading to death. It provides a significant point in the sequence of events where an intervention could take place to prevent the death from occurring.