Autopsy acceptance rate and reasons for decline in Mulago Hospital, Kampala, Uganda

Janneke A. Cox, Robert L. Lukande, Alice Kateregga, Harriet Mayanja-Kizza, Yukari C. Manabe, Robert Colebunders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Objective To determine the autopsy acceptance rate and reasons for decline at Mulago Hospital, Kampala, Uganda. Methods The next of kin of patients who died in a combined infectious diseases and gastro-enterology ward of Mulago Hospital were approached to answer a questionnaire concerning characteristics of their deceased relative. During the interview their consent was asked to perform a complete autopsy. If autopsy was declined, the next of kin were asked to provide their reason for the decline. Results Permission to perform an autopsy was requested in 158 (54%) of the 290 deaths that occurred during the study period. In 60 (38%) cases autopsy was accepted. Fifty-nine autopsies were performed. For 82% of refusals a reason was listed; mainly 'not wanting to delay the burial' (58%), 'no use to know the cause of death' (16%) and 'being satisfied with the clinical cause of death' (10%). Conclusion The autopsy rate achieved under study conditions was 38% compared to rates of 5% in Mulago Hospital over the past decade. Timely request and rapid performance of autopsies appear to be important determinants of autopsy acceptance. A motivated team of pathologists and clinicians is required to increase autopsy acceptance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1015-1018
Number of pages4
JournalTropical Medicine and International Health
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Acceptance
  • Autopsy
  • Post-mortem
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Uganda

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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