Document Type



Paediatrics and Child Health


The minimally invasive autopsy (MIA), an innovative approach for obtaining post-mortem samples of key organs, is increasingly being recognized as a robust methodology for cause of death (CoD) investigation, albeit so far limited to pilot studies and research projects. A better understanding of the real causes of death in middle- and low-income countries, where underlying causes of death are seldom determined, would allow improved health planning, more targeted prioritization of available resources and the implementation of coherent public health policies. This paper discusses lessons learnt from the implementation of a Feasibility and Acceptability (F&A) study evaluating the MIA approach in five countries: Gabon, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique and Pakistan. This article reports the methodological choices made to document sociocultural and religious norms around death, to examine community and relatives’ attitudes and perceptions towards MIA, and to identify factors motivating the MIA’s acceptance and refusal. We used ethnography, grounded theory and framework method approaches. In-depth and semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions with key informants, including next of kin of deceased individuals and healthcare providers, were conducted. Participant observation and direct observation of procedures and ceremonies around death were organized in all study sites. In Mozambique, MIA procedures were observed and case studies conducted. The implementation of this F&A protocol has provided critical lessons that could facilitate the future implementation of post-mortem procedures for CoD investigation. These include the need for early community engagement, staff training and preparedness, flexibility to adapt the protocol, gathering qualitative data from diverse sources, and triangulation of the data. We have applied a rigorous, effective and culturally sensitive methodological approach to assess the F&A of MIA in resource-constrained settings. We strongly recommend that such an approach is applied in settings where MIAs or similar post-mortem sensitive procedures are to be introduced

Publication (Name of Journal)

Global health action

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Pediatrics Commons