Record-linkage comparison of verbal autopsy and routine civil registration death certification in rural north-east South Africa: 2006-09.


Joubert, J; Bradshaw, D; Kabudula, C; Rao, C; Kahn, K; Mee, P; Tollman, S; Lopez, AD; Vos, T; (2014) Record-linkage comparison of verbal autopsy and routine civil registration death certification in rural north-east South Africa: 2006-09. International journal of epidemiology, 43 (6). pp. 1945-58. ISSN 0300-5771 DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyu156

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Abstract

South African civil registration (CR) provides a key data source for local health decision making, and informs the levels and causes of mortality in data-lacking sub-Saharan African countries. We linked mortality data from CR and the Agincourt Health and Socio-demographic Surveillance System (Agincourt HDSS) to examine the quality of rural CR data. Deterministic and probabilistic techniques were used to link death data from 2006 to 2009. Causes of death were aggregated into the WHO Mortality Tabulation List 1 and a locally relevant short list of 15 causes. The matching rate was compared with informant-reported death registration. Using the VA diagnoses as reference, misclassification patterns, sensitivity, positive predictive values and cause-specific mortality fractions (CSMFs) were calculated for the short list. A matching rate of 61% [95% confidence interval (CI): 59.2 to 62.3] was attained, lower than the informant-reported registration rate of 85% (CI: 83.4 to 85.8). For the 2264 matched cases, cause agreement was 15% (kappa 0.1083, CI: 0.0995 to 0.1171) for the WHO list, and 23% (kappa 0.1631, CI: 0.1511 to 0.1751) for the short list. CSMFs were significantly different for all but four (tuberculosis, cerebrovascular disease, other heart disease, and ill-defined natural) of the 15 causes evaluated. Despite data limitations, it is feasible to link official CR and HDSS verbal autopsy data. Data linkage proved a promising method to provide empirical evidence about the quality and utility of rural CR mortality data. Agreement of individual causes of death was low but, at the population level, careful interpretation of the CR data can assist health prioritization and planning.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Social and Environmental Health Research
Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Population Health (2012- )
Research Centre: Population Studies Group
PubMed ID: 25146564
Web of Science ID: 348575500036
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/2507983

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