Use of verbal autopsy by health workers in under-five children

Indian Pediatr. 2003 Aug;40(8):766-71.


We conducted this study to ascertain whether health workers can routinely administer verbal autopsy (VA) to determine the cause of death in their area. The health workers were trained to administer verbal autopsy tool on the deaths occurring in the population under them. All the verbal autopsies of under-five deaths between January 2000 to December 2001 were reviewed by a pediatrician. There were 262 deaths of children under five years in this period, and 71% of them were infants, out of which 34% were neonatal deaths. The health workers reported PEM, fever, pneumonia, and diarrhea as the leading causes of death, based on the existing system of obtaining information provided by the family members. Verbal autopsy forms reviewed by a pediatrician also showed that apart from fever, the first three causes of death were the same i.e., PEM, diarrhea and pneumonia. This study shows that health workers can be trained to use the verbal autopsy to ascertain the cause of death.

MeSH terms

  • Allied Health Personnel*
  • Cause of Death*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • India
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interviews as Topic*
  • Rural Population
  • Surveys and Questionnaires