Verbal autopsy standards: ascertaining and attributing causes of death
The 2016 WHO verbal autopsy instrument
The 2016 version of the WHO verbal autopsy (VA) instrument is suitable for routine use. The instrument is designed for all age groups, including maternal and perinatal deaths, and also deaths caused by injuries.
The 2016 WHO VA instrument is fully compatible with publicly available analytical software for assigning the cause of death (SmartVA, InterVA, InSilicoVA). A conversion algorithm transforms the output of the WHO VA 2016 questionnaire in files that can be processed by SmartVA, InterVA, and InSilicoVA.
Updates have been made to the initial 2016 version after field testing to address incorrect or inconsistent skip patterns; augment the electronic data collection platform using constraints, range, and logic checks, and adding automated skips for sub-age patterns where relevant; and to optimize the field experience for interviewers and respondents.
A summary of the updates made to the initial 2016 version is available. A separate technical file for editors of questionnaires shows the differences for questions, skip instructions, possible answers (choices) and hints between the 2012, 2014, and 2016 versions. List of updates and differences to earlier versions of the WHO VA instrument (2012, 2014) are available for download on this page.
The tool will be reviewed in 2020, based on users’ feedback, and in particular, on evidence from the field. The users are asked to share the information collected in their verbal autopsy in a way that allows assessment of validity and feasibility of the questions in the field.
Translations of the WHO VA instrument (table format) and materials should be shared with WHO (email@example.com) in order to become available for other users. They will become available from this website.
Suggestions and questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The WHO verbal autopsy (VA) working group
A WHO VA working group was established at the first meeting of the WHO Reference Group on Global Health Statistics, 9–10 December 2013. This group is chaired by Daniel Chandramohan of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It brings together experts in this field, and it has agreed upon the WHO verbal autopsy Instrument 2016 for data collection in countries, based on the recent experiences. This instrument will is the basis for multiple analytical methods including physician-based diagnosis, InterVA, Tariff and others. The group will further address data sharing, the development of standardized data sets, methods for validation of verbal autopsy analysis, and reference definitions for causes of death of interest to ensure consistency with ICD classification rules.
Download the 2016 WHO verbal autopsy instrument
The tool will be reviewed in 2020, based on users’ feedback and further evidence from the field. The users are asked to share the information collected in their verbal autopsy in a way that allows assessment of validity and feasibility of the questions in the field.
Translations of the WHO VA instrument (table format) and materials should be shared with WHO (email@example.com) in order to become available for other users. They will become available from this web page.
- Tariff (SmartVA Application), Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME)
- Review of the WHO Verbal Autopsy Instruments: December 19-22, 2011 meeting report
- Report of the WHO Technical Consultation on Verbal Autopsy Tools: November 2004
Page updated on 1 February 2018