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PLoS Med. 2018 Jan 10;15(1):e1002486. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002486. eCollection 2018 Jan.

The WHO 2016 verbal autopsy instrument: An international standard suitable for automated analysis by InterVA, InSilicoVA, and Tariff 2.0.

Author information

1
National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United States Public Health Service, Hyattsville, Maryland, United States of America.
2
WHO Collaborating Centre for Verbal Autopsy, Umeå Centre for Global Health Research, Division of Epidemiology and Global Health, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
3
MRC-Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit (Agincourt), School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
4
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom.
5
Department of Sociology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, United States of America.
6
ALPHA Network, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom.
7
INDEPTH Network, Accra, Ghana.
8
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Department of Global Health, University of Washington, Seattle, Seattle, Washington, United States of America.
9
World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, Switzerland.
10
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland.
11
University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.
12
Department of Global Health, Research School of Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.
13
Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.
14
Vital Strategies, New York, New York, United States of America.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Verbal autopsy (VA) is a practical method for determining probable causes of death at the population level in places where systems for medical certification of cause of death are weak. VA methods suitable for use in routine settings, such as civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems, have developed rapidly in the last decade. These developments have been part of a growing global momentum to strengthen CRVS systems in low-income countries. With this momentum have come pressure for continued research and development of VA methods and the need for a single standard VA instrument on which multiple automated diagnostic methods can be developed.

METHODS AND FINDINGS:

In 2016, partners harmonized a WHO VA standard instrument that fully incorporates the indicators necessary to run currently available automated diagnostic algorithms. The WHO 2016 VA instrument, together with validated approaches to analyzing VA data, offers countries solutions to improving information about patterns of cause-specific mortality. This VA instrument offers the opportunity to harmonize the automated diagnostic algorithms in the future.

CONCLUSIONS:

Despite all improvements in design and technology, VA is only recommended where medical certification of cause of death is not possible. The method can nevertheless provide sufficient information to guide public health priorities in communities in which physician certification of deaths is largely unavailable. The WHO 2016 VA instrument, together with validated approaches to analyzing VA data, offers countries solutions to improving information about patterns of cause-specific mortality.

PMID:
29320495
PMCID:
PMC5761828
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pmed.1002486
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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