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IHME develops fast, affordable ways for countries to better identify causes of death in populations
Date:10/31/2011

easingly important to both governments and funders as they try to allocate resources and measure success," said Dr. Christopher Murray, Director of IHME and Professor of Global Health at the University of Washington. "With the new innovative methods outlined in our research, countries can now choose the best and most cost-effective verbal autopsy techniques to better monitor progress toward health and development goals."

The Random Forest method, developed by IHME, performed better than physician review, which traditionally has been seen as the gold standard, and is also cheaper and provides faster results.

The Random Forest method was more accurate than physicians in assigning the correct cause of death to individual VAs for adults and children older than 28 days. For VAs on adults, the Random Forest method performed 27% better than physicians when there is no accompanying medical information from those interviewed. In cases where there is additional information, the Random Forest method was better by 8%. For VAs on children older than 28 days, the Random Forest method performed 28% better than physicians with no additional medical information and 8% better for VAs including other information.

"While it may take days for a team of physicians to complete a VA survey analysis, requiring them to stop servicing health needs in a population, a computer approach such as the Random Forest method requires only seconds of processing on hardware that is currently affordably available," said Dr. Abraham Flaxman, lead author of the Random Forest study and Assistant Professor of Global Health at IHME. The Random Forest method can be used on a hand-held device with the cause of death automatically generated at the conclusion of the interview.

"Understanding causes of deaths is a public health priority especially in low-resource settings such as Uganda where most deaths occur at home and no regular system for cause of death registration exists," said Dr. Peter Wa
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Contact: William Heisel
wheisel@uw.edu
206-897-2886
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
Source:Eurekalert

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