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Ascertaining Cause of Mortality among Middle-Aged and Older Persons using Computer-Coded and Expert Review Verbal Autopsies in the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study

Citation

Zhang, Yuan S.; Hu, Peifeng; Strauss, John A.; Zhao, Yaohui; Wang, Yafeng; & Crimmins, Eileen M. (2020). Ascertaining Cause of Mortality among Middle-Aged and Older Persons using Computer-Coded and Expert Review Verbal Autopsies in the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study. Global Health Action, 13(1), 1768502. PMCID: PMC7480525

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Verbal autopsy is designed to ascertain causes of death that are not registered or certified. Verbal autopsy has been validated in multiple settings but has not been as widely evaluated for older populations as for younger age groups.
OBJECTIVE: This study aims to provide empirical evidence of the value of verbal autopsy interviews in the context of population-based surveys of older adults by comparing the cause-of-death assignments derived from two methods of interpreting verbal autopsy data.
METHODS: Data used in this study come from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study, a nationally representative longitudinal survey of older Chinese. We compared 407 causes of death determined using InterVA, which is a computer-coded method, and causes of death as assigned by experts; then evaluated factors that affect the results of the two approaches.
RESULTS: Among the 407 deaths, neoplasms, cardiac disease, and stroke are the leading causes of death according to both approaches. The consistency of the two approaches is about 45% at the individual level. The primary reason for the mismatch is that no cause of death could be assigned for more than 25% of the sample based on expert review. A higher likelihood of mismatch is associated with advanced age and a long period between death and verbal autopsy interview.
CONCLUSION: Both approaches identify the same leading causes of death at the aggregate level, but consistency is relatively low at the individual level. InterVA works well when causes of death are characterized by distinctive signs and symptoms. Grouping the various causes of death with shared etiology or common risk factors may help improve the quality of the ascertainment of causes of death. Open-ended narratives are helpful because they provide information about the circumstances surrounding the death that are not available in the structured verbal autopsy interviews.

URL

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/16549716.2020.1768502

Reference Type

Journal Article

Article Type

Regular

Year Published

2020

Journal Title

Global Health Action

Author(s)

Zhang, Yuan S.
Hu, Peifeng
Strauss, John A.
Zhao, Yaohui
Wang, Yafeng
Crimmins, Eileen M.

PMCID

PMC7480525

Data Set/Study

China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study

Continent/Country

China