Syn: psychological autopsy, social autopsy. An attempt to ascertain the cause of otherwise unexplained death by asking questions about antecedent conditions and experiences that the deceased person has had. When death is manifestly due to suicide, a verbal autopsy is a method of investigation that can sometimes reveal why a person committed suicide. A similar approach is used at the population level in rural villages in low-income countries lacking adequate medical care to construct a profile of common causes of death in particular villages. This has been applied to the study of infant mortality. This can be done in a standardized manner using predetermined questions that have been validated by observed diagnoses in comparable populations. Deaths are classified in groups according to leading signs such as fever and skin rash, diarrhea, coma, cough, breathlessness.
Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.