Validating the InterVA-5 cause of death analytical tool: using mortality data from the Comprehensive Health and Epidemiological Surveillance System in Papua New Guinea

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BMJ open


OBJECTIVE: InterVA-5 is a new version of an analytical tool for cause of death (COD) analysis at the population level. This study validates the InterVA-5 against the medical review method, using mortality data in Papua New Guinea (PNG). DESIGN AND SETTING: This study used mortality data collected from January 2018 to December 2020 in eight surveillance sites of the Comprehensive Health and Epidemiological Surveillance System (CHESS), established by the PNG Institute of Medical Research in six major provinces. METHODS: The CHESS demographic team conducted verbal autopsy (VA) interviews with close relatives of the deceased, who died in communities within the catchment areas of CHESS, using the WHO 2016 VA instrument. COD of the deceased was assigned by InterVA-5 tool, and independently certified by the medical team. Consistency, difference and agreement between the InterVA-5 model and medical review were assessed. Sensitivity and positive predictive value (PPV) of the InterVA-5 tool were calculated with reference to the medical review method. RESULTS: Specific COD of 926 deceased people was included in the validation. Agreement between the InterVA-5 tool and medical review was high (kappa test: 0.72; p<0.01). Sensitivity and PPV of the InterVA-5 were 93% and 72% for cardiovascular diseases, 84% and 86% for neoplasms, 65% and 100% for other chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and 78% and 64% for maternal deaths, respectively. For infectious diseases and external CODs, sensitivity and PPV of the InterVA-5 were 94% and 90%, respectively, while the sensitivity and PPV of the medical review method were both 54% for classifying neonatal CODs. CONCLUSION: The InterVA-5 tool works well in the PNG context to assign specific CODs of infectious diseases, cardiovascular diseases, neoplasms and injuries. Further improvements with respect to chronic NCDs, maternal deaths and neonatal deaths are needed.

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