More countries are using verbal autopsy as a part of routine mortality surveillance. The length of time required to complete a verbal autopsy interview is a key logistical consideration for planning large-scale surveillance.
We use the PHMRC shortened questionnaire to conduct verbal autopsy interviews at three sites and collect data on the length of time required to complete the interview. This instrument uses a novel checklist of keywords to capture relevant information from the open response. The open response section is timed separately from the section consisting of closed questions.
We found the median time to complete the entire interview was approximately 25 minutes and did not vary substantially by age-specific module. The median time for the open response section was approximately 4 minutes and 60% of interviewees mentioned at least one keyword within the open response section.
The length of time required to complete the interview was short enough for large-scale routine use. The open-response section did not add a substantial amount of time and provided useful information which can be used to increase the accuracy of the predictions of the cause of death. The novel checklist approach further reduces the burden of transcribing and translating a large amount of free text. This makes the PHMRC instrument ideal for national mortality surveillance.
Also with a replication archive on the Global Health Data Exchange (GHDx) [http://ghdx.healthdata.org/node/263527].