Lancet surveys of Iraq War casualties


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White and red flags, representing Iraqi and American deaths, sit in the grass quad of The Valley Library on the Corvallis, Oregon campus of Oregon State University. As part of the traveling Iraq Body Count exhibit (not related to the Iraq Body Count project) the flags aim to "raise awareness of the human cost of the Iraq War." The exhibit uses The Lancet as its primary source.

The Lancet, one of the oldest scientific medical journals in the world, published two peer-reviewed studies on the effect of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent occupation on the Iraqi mortality rate. The first was published in 2004; the second (by many of the same authors) in 2006. The studies estimate the number of excess deaths caused by the occupation, both direct (combatants plus non-combatants) and indirect (due to increased lawlessness, degraded infrastructure, poor healthcare, etc.).

The first survey<ref name="lancet2004">"Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster sample survey" PDF (263 KB). By Les Roberts, Riyadh Lafta, Richard Garfield, Jamal Khudhairi, and Gilbert Burnham. The Lancet, 29 October 2004. There is a version of the PDF article that has a clickable table of contents. It is here: [1].</ref> published on 29 October 2004, estimated 98,000 excess Iraqi deaths (with a range of 8,000 to 194,000, using a 95% confidence interval (CI)) from the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq to that time, or about 50% higher than the death rate prior to the invasion. The authors described this as a conservative estimate, because it excluded the extreme statistical outlier data from Fallujah. If the Fallujah cluster were included, the mortality estimate would increase to 150% over pre-invasion rates (95% CI: 1.6 to 4.2).

The second survey<ref name="lancetOct2006">"Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey" PDF (242 KB). By Gilbert Burnham, Riyadh Lafta, Shannon Doocy, and Les Roberts. The Lancet, October 11, 2006</ref><ref name="Lancet supplement">"The Human Cost of the War in Iraq: A Mortality Study, 2002–2006" PDF (603 KB). By Gilbert Burnham, Shannon Doocy, Elizabeth Dzeng, Riyadh Lafta, and Les Roberts. A supplement to the October 2006 Lancet study. It is also found here: [2] [3]</ref><ref name=davidbrown>"Study Claims Iraq's 'Excess' Death Toll Has Reached 655,000". By David Brown. Washington Post. Oct. 11, 2006.</ref> published on 11 October 2006, estimated 654,965 excess deaths related to the war, or 2.5% of the population, through the end of June 2006. The new study applied similar methods and involved surveys between May 20 and July 10, 2006.<ref name=davidbrown /> More households were surveyed, allowing for a 95% confidence interval of 392,979 to 942,636 excess Iraqi deaths. 601,027 deaths (range of 426,369 to 793,663 using a 95% confidence interval) were due to violence. 31% (186,318) of those were attributed to the US-led Coalition, 24% (144,246) to others, and 46% (276,472) unknown. The causes of violent deaths were gunshot (56% or 336,575), car bomb (13% or 78,133), other explosion/ordnance (14%), air strike (13% or 78,133), accident (2% or 12,020), and unknown (2%).

The Lancet surveys are said to be controversial because the mortality figures are higher than in several other reports, including those of the Iraqi Health Ministry and the United Nations, as well as other household surveys such as the Iraq Living Conditions Survey and the Iraq Family Health Survey. The 2007 ORB survey of Iraq War casualties estimated more deaths than the Lancet, though it covered a longer period of the conflict.<ref name=JFP/><ref name="">"Conflict Deaths in Iraq: A Methodological Critique of the ORB Survey Estimate" By Michael Spagat and Josh Dougherty</ref> It has also been argued that the controversy results from an incompatibility between the survey results and the comparatively positive image various media outlets have of the invasion of Iraq.<ref>A Million Iraqi Dead? The U.S. press buries the evidence</ref> <ref>IRAQ BODY COUNT: “A VERY MISLEADING EXERCISE” </ref>The Lancet surveys have triggered criticism and disbelief from some journalists, governments, the Iraq Body Count project, some epidemiologists and statisticians and others, but have also been supported by some journalists, governments, epidemiologists and statisticians.<ref name=TheAge/>

Lancet surveys of Iraq War casualties sections
Intro   First study (2004)    Second study (2006)    UNDP ILCS study compared to Lancet studies    Iraq Body Count project compared to Lancet studies    ORB survey compared with Lancet studies    Iraq Family Health Survey compared with Lancet studies    See also    References    External links   

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