Conducting verbal autopsy by telephone interview during the pandemic to support mortality surveillance: a feasibility study in Malaysia

Verbal autopsy telephone interview

Authors

  • Nur Hamizah binti Nasaruddin Institute for Public Health, National Institutes of Health, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Selangor, Malaysia
  • Shubash Shander Ganapathy Institute for Public Health, National Institutes of Health, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Selangor, Malaysia
  • S. Maria Awaluddin Institute for Public Health, National Institutes of Health, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Selangor, Malaysia
  • Mohamad Fuad Mohamad Anuar Sector for Biostatistics & Data Repository, National Institutes of Health, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Selangor, Malaysia
  • Nazirah binti Alias Institute for Public Health, National Institutes of Health, Ministry of Health Malaysia
  • Chan Yee Mang Institute for Public Health, National Institutes of Health, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Selangor, Malaysia
  • Khaw Wan-Fei Institute for Public Health, National Institutes of Health, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Selangor, Malaysia

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.5365/wpsar.2022.13.2.902

Abstract

Objective: Verbal autopsy (VA) through face-to-face interviews with caregivers is a way to determine cause of death without medical certification. In Malaysia, the use of VA has improved mortality statistics. However, during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, face-to-face interviews were delayed, reducing VA data collection and affecting data for mortality surveillance. This study aims to investigate the feasibility and acceptability of conducting VA interviews via telephone calls, and the quality of the data gathered.

Methods: The study was conducted in Malaysia from September to October 2020 using a cross-sectional design. Participants were health-care workers from established VA teams across the country. They conducted VA interviews via telephone and provided feedback through a customized online form. Data collected from the form were used to assess the feasibility, acceptability and quality of the telephone interviews using IBM SPSS version 23.

Results: Responses were received from 113 participants. There were 74 (65.5%) successful interviews, representing 91% of the 81 cases who were able to be contacted. More than two thirds of health-care workers provided positive feedback on the telephone interview method for themselves and the interviewees. Only 10.8% of causes of death were unusable.

Discussion: This study provides preliminary evidence that VA via telephone interview is feasible, acceptable and can be used as an alternative to face-to-face interviews without affecting data quality. During times when face-to-face interviews are not advisable, VA telephone interviews can be used for data collection for mortality surveillance.

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Published

01-07-2022

How to Cite

Nasaruddin, N. H. binti ., Ganapathy, S. S., Awaluddin, S. M., Anuar, M. F. M., Nazirah binti Alias, Mang, C. Y., & Wan-Fei, K. (2022). Conducting verbal autopsy by telephone interview during the pandemic to support mortality surveillance: a feasibility study in Malaysia: Verbal autopsy telephone interview. Western Pacific Surveillance and Response, 13(2). https://doi.org/10.5365/wpsar.2022.13.2.902

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Section

Original Research