Multi-Cause Calibration of Verbal Autopsy–Based Cause-Specific Mortality Estimates of Children and Neonates in Mozambique

Brian Gilbert, Jacob Fiksel, Emily Wilson, Henry Kalter, Almamy Kante, Aveika Akum, Dianna Blau, Quique Bassat, Ivalda Macicame, Eduardo Samo Gudo, Robert Black, Scott Zeger, Agbessi Amouzou, Abhirup Datta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Countrywide Mortality Surveillance for Action platform is collecting verbal autopsy (VA) records from a nationally representative sample in Mozambique. These records are used to estimate the national and subnational cause-specific mortality fractions (CSMFs) for children (1–59 months) and neonates (1–28 days). Cross-tabulation of VA-based cause-of-death (COD) determination against that from the minimally invasive tissue sampling (MITS) from the Child Health and Mortality Prevention project revealed important misclassification errors for all the VA algorithms, which if not accounted for will lead to bias in the estimates of CSMF from VA. A recently proposed Bayesian VA-calibration method is used that accounts for this misclassification bias and produces calibrated estimates of CSMF. Both the VA-COD and the MITS-COD can be multi-cause (i.e., suggest more than one probable COD for some of the records). To fully use this probabilistic COD data, we use the multi-cause VA calibration. Two different computer-coded VA algorithms are considered—InSilicoVA and EAVA—and the final CSMF estimates are obtained using an ensemble calibration that uses data from both the algorithms. The calibrated estimates consistently offer a better fit to the data and reveal important changes in the CSMF for both children and neonates in Mozambique after accounting for VA misclassification bias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-89
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
StatePublished - May 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology
  • Parasitology


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