Comparing tariff and medical assistant assigned causes of death from verbal autopsy interviews in Matlab, Bangladesh: implications for a health and demographic surveillance system
AuthorHazard, RH; Alam, N; Chowdhury, HR; Adair, T; Alam, S; Streatfield, PK; Riley, ID; Lopez, AD
Source TitlePopulation Health Metrics
University of Melbourne Author/sRiley, Ian; Chowdhury, Md Hafizur; Adair, Timothy; Lopez, Alan; Hazard, Riley
AffiliationMelbourne School of Population and Global Health
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsHazard, R. H., Alam, N., Chowdhury, H. R., Adair, T., Alam, S., Streatfield, P. K., Riley, I. D. & Lopez, A. D. (2018). Comparing tariff and medical assistant assigned causes of death from verbal autopsy interviews in Matlab, Bangladesh: implications for a health and demographic surveillance system. POPULATION HEALTH METRICS, 16 (1), https://doi.org/10.1186/s12963-018-0169-1.
Access StatusOpen Access
BACKGROUND: Deaths in developing countries often occur outside health facilities, making it extremely difficult to gather reliable cause of death (COD) information. Automated COD assignment using a verbal autopsy instrument (VAI) has been proposed as a reliable and cost-effective alternative to traditional physician-certified verbal autopsy, but its performance is still being evaluated. The purpose of this study was to compare the similarity of diagnosis by Medical Assistants (MA) in the Matlab Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) with the SmartVA Analyze 1.2 (Tariff 2.0) diagnosis. METHODS: This study took place between January 2011 and April 2014 in Matlab, Bangladesh. MA with 3 years of medical training assigned COD to Matlab residents by reviewing the information collected using the Population Health Metrics Research Consortium (PHMRC) long-form VAI. Smart VA Analyze 1.2 automatically assigned COD using the same questionnaire. COD agreement and cause-specific mortality fractions (CSMFs) were compared for MA and Tariff. RESULTS: Of the 4969 verbal autopsy cases reviewed, 4328 were adults, 296 were children, and 345 were neonates. Cohen's kappa was 0.38 (0.36, 0.40) for adults, 0.43 (0.38, 0.49) for children, and 0.27 (0.22, 0.33) for neonates. For adults, the top two COD for MA were stroke (29.6%) and ischemic heart diseases (IHD) (14.2%) and for Tariff these were stroke (32.0%) and IHD (14.0%). For children, the top two COD for MA were drowning (33.5%) and pneumonia (13.2%) and for Tariff these were also drowning (36.8%) and pneumonia (12.4%). For neonates, the top two COD for MA were birth asphyxia (41.2%) and meningitis/sepsis (22.3%) and for Tariff these were birth asphyxia (37.0%) and preterm delivery (30.9%). CONCLUSION: The CSMFs for Tariff and MA showed very close agreement across all age categories but some differences were observed for neonate preterm delivery and meningitis/sepsis. Given the known advantages of automated methods over physician certified verbal autopsy, the SmartVA software, incorporating the shortened VAI questionnaire and Tariff 2.0, could serve as a cost-effective alternative to Matlab MA to routinely collect and analyze verbal autopsy data in a HDSS to generate essential population level COD data for planning.
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