"Whenever they cry, I cry with them”: Reciprocal relationships and the role of ethics in a verbal autopsy study in Papua New Guinea

Gouda, H. N., Kelly-Hanku, A., Wilson, L., Maraga, S. and Riley, I. D. (2016) "Whenever they cry, I cry with them”: Reciprocal relationships and the role of ethics in a verbal autopsy study in Papua New Guinea. Social Science and Medicine, 163 1-9. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.06.041

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Author Gouda, H. N.
Kelly-Hanku, A.
Wilson, L.
Maraga, S.
Riley, I. D.
Title "Whenever they cry, I cry with them”: Reciprocal relationships and the role of ethics in a verbal autopsy study in Papua New Guinea
Journal name Social Science and Medicine   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0277-9536
Publication date 2016-01-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.socscimed.2016.06.041
Open Access Status File (Author Post-print)
Volume 163
Start page 1
End page 9
Total pages 9
Place of publication Kidlington, Oxford United Kingdom
Publisher Pergamon
Language eng
Subject 3306 Health (social science)
1207 History and Philosophy of Science
Abstract Verbal autopsy (VA) methods usually involve an interview with a recently bereaved individual to ascertain the most probable cause of death when a person dies outside of a hospital and/or did not receive a reliable death certificate. A number of concerns have arisen around the ethical and social implications of the use of these methods. In this paper we examine these concerns, looking specifically at the cultural factors surrounding death and mourning in Papua New Guinea, and the potential for VA interviews to cause emotional distress in both the bereaved respondent and the VA fieldworker. Thirty one semi-structured interviews with VA respondents, the VA team and community relations officers as well as observations in the field and team discussions were conducted between June 2013 and August 2014. While our findings reveal that VA participants were often moved to cry and feel sad, they also expressed a number of ways they benefited from the process, and indeed welcomed longer transactions with the VA interviewers. Significantly, VA interviewers, who have hitherto been largely neglected in the literature, highlights the ways in which fieldworkers navigate transactions with the participants and make everyday decisions about their relationships with them in order to ensure that they and VA interviews are accepted by the community. The role of the VA fieldworker should be more carefully considered, as should the implications for training and institutional support that follow.
Keyword Everyday ethics
Mortality surveillance
Papua New Guinea
Reciprocity and exchange
Verbal autopsy
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Grant ID NHMRC - 631494
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
School of Public Health Publications
School of Political Science and International Studies Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 3 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 3 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 07 Jul 2016, 10:08:54 EST by Lee Wilson on behalf of School of Political Science & Internat'l Studies