Document Type



Obstetrics and Gynaecology


Objective: To assess performance of the WHO revised verbal autopsy tool for ascertaining the causes of still birth in comparison with reference standard cause of death ascertained by standardized clinical and supportive data.

Methods: All stillbirths at a tertiary hospital in Karachi, Pakistan were prospectively recruited into study from August 2006- February 2008. The reference standard cause of death was established by two senior obstetricians within 48 hours using the ICD coding system. Verbal autopsy interviews using modified WHO tool were conducted by trained health workers within 2- 6 weeks of still birth and the cause of death was assigned by second panel of obstetricians. The performance was assessed in terms of sensitivity, specificity and Kappa.

Results: There were 204 still births. Of these, 80.8% of antepartum and 50.5% of intrapartum deaths were correctly diagnosed by verbal autopsy. Sensitivity of verbal autopsy was highest 68.4%, (95%CI: 46-84.6) for congenital malformation followed by obstetric complication 57.6%, (95%CI: 25-84.2). The specificity for all major causes was greater than 90%. The level of agreement was high (kappa=0.72) for anomalies and moderate (k=0.4) for all major causes of still birth, except asphyxia.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that verbal autopsy has reasonable validity in identifying and discriminating between causes of stillbirth in Pakistan. On the basis of these findings, we feel it has a place in resource constrained areas to inform strategic planning and mobilization of resources to attain Millennium Development Goals