Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Verbal autopsies (VAs) are widely used to describe causes of death in individuals who die outside hospital or clinic settings. However, they have received surprisingly little validation. The technique assumes that diseases which cause death can be readily distinguished from one another by distinct syndromes, and that these can be reported accurately by lay respondents. This paper describes the potential problems of syndrome definition and the likely biases introduced through poor recognition and recall by bereaved relatives; how these may be tested; and finally, what can be done where the VA proves unable to identify cause of death. © 1992 Oxford University Press.

Original publication




Journal article


Health Policy and Planning

Publication Date





22 - 29