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PubMed | The George Institute for Global Health India, Institute of Tropical Medicine, University of Washington, Health Level and University of Melbourne
Type: | Journal: Population health metrics | Year: 2016

One key contextual feature in Verbal Autopsy (VA) is the time between death and survey administration, or recall period. This study quantified the effect of recall period on VA performance by using a paired dataset in which two VAs were administered for a single decedent.This study used information from the Population Health Metrics Research Consortium (PHMRC) Study, which collected VAs for gold standard cases where cause of death (COD) was supported by clinical criteria. This study repeated VA interviews within 3-52 months of death in PHMRC study sites in Andhra Pradesh, India, and Bohol and Manila, Philippines. The final dataset included 2113 deaths interviewed twice and with recall periods ranging from 0 to 52months. COD was assigned by the Tariff method and its accuracy determined by comparison with the gold standard COD.The probability of a correct diagnosis of COD decreased by 0.55% per month in the period after death. Site of data collection and survey module also affected the probability of Tariff Method correctly assigning a COD. The probability of a correct diagnosis in VAs collected 3-11 months after death will, on average, be 95.9% of that in VAs collected within 3 months of death.These findings suggest that collecting VAs within 3 months of death may improve the quality of the information collected, taking the need for a period of mourning into account. This study substantiates the WHO recommendation that it is reasonable to collect VAs up to 1 year after death providing it is accepted that probability of a correct diagnosis is likely to decline month by month during this period.


Joshi R.,The George Institute for Global Health Australia | Praveen D.,The George Institute for Global Health India | Chow C.,The George Institute for Global Health Australia | Neal B.,The George Institute for Global Health Australia
Population Health Metrics | Year: 2011

Background: The process of data collection and the methods used to assign the cause of death vary significantly among different verbal autopsy protocols, but there are few data to describe the consequences of the choices made. The aim of this study was to objectively define the impact of the format of data presented to physician reviewers on the cause-specific mortality fractions defined by a verbal autopsy-based mortality-surveillance system.Methods: Verbal autopsies were done by primary health care workers for all deaths between October 2006 and September 2007 in a community in rural Andhra Pradesh, India (total population about 180,162). Each questionnaire had a structured section, composed of a series of check boxes, and a free-text section, in which a narrative description of the events leading to death was recorded. For each death, a physician coder was presented first with one section and then the other in random order with a 20- to 40-day interval between. A cause of death was recorded for each data format at the level of ICD 10 chapter headings or else the death was documented as unclassified. After another 20- to 40-day interval, both the structured and free-text sections of the questionnaire were presented together and an index cause of death was assigned.Results: In all, 1,407 verbal autopsies were available for analysis, representing 94% of all deaths recorded in the population that year. An index cause of death was assigned using the combined data for 1,190 with the other 217 remaining unclassified. The observed cause-specific mortality fractions were the same regardless of whether the structured, free-text or combined data sources were used. At the individual level, the assignments made using the structured format matched the index in 1,012 (72%) of cases with a kappa statistic of 0.66. For the free-text format, the corresponding figures were 989 (70%) and 0.64.Conclusions: The format of the verbal autopsy data used to assign a cause of death did not substantively influence the pattern of mortality estimated. Substantially abbreviated and simplified verbal autopsy questionnaires might provide robust information about high-level mortality patterns. © 2011 Joshi et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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