New challenges for verbal autopsy: considering the ethical and social implications of verbal autopsy methods in routine health information systems

Gouda, Hebe N., Flaxman, Abraham D., Brolan, Claire E., Joshi, Rohina, Riley, Ian D., AbouZahr, Carla, Firth, Sonja, Rampatige, Rasika and Lopez, Alan D. (2017) New challenges for verbal autopsy: considering the ethical and social implications of verbal autopsy methods in routine health information systems. Social Science & Medicine, 184 65-74. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.05.002

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Author Gouda, Hebe N.
Flaxman, Abraham D.
Brolan, Claire E.
Joshi, Rohina
Riley, Ian D.
AbouZahr, Carla
Firth, Sonja
Rampatige, Rasika
Lopez, Alan D.
Title New challenges for verbal autopsy: considering the ethical and social implications of verbal autopsy methods in routine health information systems
Journal name Social Science & Medicine   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1873-5347
0277-9536
Publication date 2017-07-01
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.05.002
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 184
Start page 65
End page 74
Total pages 10
Place of publication Kidlington, Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Elsevier
Language eng
Subject 3306 Health (social science)
1207 History and Philosophy of Science
Abstract Verbal autopsy (VA) methods are designed to collect cause-of-death information from populations where many deaths occur outside of health facilities and where death certification is weak or absent. A VA consists of an interview with a relative or carer of a recently deceased individual in order to gather information on the signs and symptoms the decedent presented with prior to death. These details are then used to determine and assign a likely cause-of-death. At a population level this information can be invaluable to help guide prioritisation and direct health policy and services. To date VAs have largely been restricted to research contexts but many countries are now venturing to incorporate VA methods into routine civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems. Given the sensitive nature of death, however, there are a number of ethical, legal and social issues that should be considered when scaling-up VAs, particularly in the cross-cultural and socio-economically disadvantaged environments in which they are typically applied. Considering each step of the VA process this paper provides a narrative review of the social context of VA methods. Harnessing the experiences of applying and rolling out VAs as part of routine CRVS systems in a number of low and middle income countries, we identify potential issues that countries and implementing institutions need to consider when incorporating VAs into CRVS systems and point to areas that could benefit from further research and deliberation.
Keyword Cause-of-death
Civil registration and vital statistics
Ethics
Health information system
Implementation
Verbal autopsy
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Grant ID 631494
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
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Created: Fri, 09 Jun 2017, 10:52:20 EST by Anthony Yeates on behalf of Learning and Research Services (UQ Library)