[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mortality data provide essential evidence on the health status of populations in crisis-affected and resource-poor settings and to guide and assess relief operations. Retrospective surveys are commonly used to collect mortality data in such populations, but require substantial resources and have important methodological limitations. We evaluated the feasibility of an alternative method for rapidly quantifying mortality (the informant method). The study objective was to assess the economic feasibility of the informant method.
The informant method captures deaths through an exhaustive search for all deaths occurring in a population over a defined and recent recall period, using key community informants and next-of-kin of decedents. Between July and October 2008, we implemented and evaluated the informant method in: Kabul, Afghanistan; Mae La camp for Karen refugees, Thai-Burma border; Chiradzulu District, Malawi; and Lugufu and Mtabila refugee camps, Tanzania. We documented the time and cost inputs for the informant method in each site, and compared these with projections for hypothetical retrospective mortality surveys implemented in the same site with a 6 month recall period and with a 30 day recall period.
The informant method was estimated to require an average of 29% less time inputs and 33% less monetary inputs across all four study sites when compared with retrospective surveys with a 6 month recall period, and 88% less time inputs and 86% less monetary inputs when compared with retrospective surveys with a 1 month recall period. Verbal autopsy questionnaires were feasible and efficient, constituting only 4% of total person-time for the informant method's implementation in Chiradzulu District.
The informant method requires fewer resources and incurs less respondent burden. The method's generally impressive feasibility and the near real-time mortality data it provides warrant further work to develop the method given the importance of mortality measurement in such settings.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(9):e25175. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Data on mortality rates are crucial to guide health interventions in crisis-affected and resource-poor settings. The methods currently available to collect mortality data in such settings feature important methodological limitations. We developed and validated a new method to provide near real-time mortality estimates in such settings.
We selected four study sites: Kabul, Afghanistan; Mae La refugee camp, Thailand; Chiradzulu District, Malawi; and Lugufu and Mtabila refugee camps, Tanzania. We recorded information about all deaths in a 60-day period by asking key community informants and decedents' next of kin to refer interviewers to bereaved households. We used the total number of deaths and population estimates to calculate mortality rates for 60- and 30-day periods. For validation we compared these rates with a best estimate of mortality using capture-recapture analysis with two further independent lists of deaths.
The population covered by the new method was 76 ,476 persons in Kabul, 43,794 in Mae La camp, 54,418 in Chiradzulu District and 80,136 in the Tanzania camps. The informant method showed moderate sensitivity (55.0% in Kabul, 64.0% in Mae La, 72.5% in Chiradzulu and 67.7% in Tanzania), but performed better than the active surveillance system in the Tanzania refugee camps.
The informant method currently features moderate sensitivity for accurately assessing mortality, but warrants further development, particularly considering its advantages over current options (ease of implementation and analysis and near-real estimates of mortality rates). Strategies should be tested to improve the performance of the informant method.
International Journal of Epidemiology 11/2010; 39(6):1584-96. · 6.98 Impact Factor