Automated verbal autopsy
WHO 2016 automated verbal autopsy questionnaire
In 2007, WHO introduced the first international technical standards and guidelines for VA. Since then, the standards have been revised as methods have evolved. The core instrument comprises a separate questionnaire for three age groups (stillbirths and neonates, children, and adults) and a COD list with corresponding ICD-10 codes.
A simplified version of the standards for routine use, including in the context of a national CRVS system, was published in 2012. The WHO 2007 and 2012 questionnaires have been extensively used, especially in Africa, in mortality survey work (eg in Health and Demographic Surveillance Sites, in Sample Vital Registration with Verbal Autopsy systems, and for post-census mortality surveys). In 2014, an iterative process of modifications was initiated to optimise data collection using an electronic platform and to facilitate the use of y available automated analytical software for assigning COD, including InterVA, Tariff and InSilicoVA.
The WHO 2016 VA questionnaire contains a superset of the variables required by InterVA, Tariff and InSilicoVA. Experience analysing VA data with multiple diagnostic methods is emerging and will inform guidance on decision rules for choosing the most probable COD in cases where various methods yield different causes of death.
A package of guidance materials is available, and under ongoing development, to support implementation. Materials include:
- An interviewer manual (including specific question by question instructions)
- A VA supervisor’s manual
- A technical administrator and user manual with guidance on data use and interpretation
- A guide to setting up a VA system
- Release notes highlighting detailed differences between the 2012, 2014 and 2016 versions. These materials and the various WHO VA questionnaire versions are available for download on the WHO website (see link in ‘read more’ below).
Nichols E et al (2017) on behalf of the WHO Verbal Autopsy Working Group (in press) 2017.
World Health Organization. Verbal autopsy standards: ascertaining and attributing causes of death.