A quarter century of decline of autopsies in the Netherlands

Bartholomeus G. H. Latten*, Lucy I. H. Overbeek, Bela Kubat, Axel Zur Hausen, Leo J. Schouten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/Letter to the editorAcademicpeer-review

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Objective Autopsy rates have been declining worldwide. The present study reports the outcome of a retrospective analysis of all non-forensic autopsies in the Netherlands over a course of 25 years, and compares these with the most recent Dutch study.

Method Retrospectively, 25 years of data on clinical autopsies from the Nationwide Network and Registry of Histo- and Cytopathology in the Netherlands (PALGA) was paired with the mortality registry ( Statistics Netherlands).

Results The crude prevalence of autopsies declined from 7.07% in 1991 to 2.73% in 2015. After adjusting for age at death, there was no difference in autopsy rate between males and females. An increasing age significantly decreased the autopsy rate.

Conclusion In the Netherlands, clinical autopsies have been declining over the last quarter century. Age at death, but not sex, was associated with the autopsy rate. These different results stress the importance of correct collection and analysis methods of data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1171-1174
Number of pages4
JournalEuropean Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Autopsy rate
  • Quality control
  • Autopsy

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