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In IEEE journal of biomedical and health informatics

The international standard to ascertain the cause of death is medical certification. However, in many low and middle-income countries, the majority of deaths occur outside of health facilities. In these cases, Verbal Autopsy (VA), the narrative provided by a family member or friend together with a questionnaire is designed by the World Health Organization as the main information source. Until now technology allowed us to automatically analyze the responses of the VA questionnaire with the narrative captured by the interviewer excluded. Our work addresses this gap by developing a set of models for automatic Cause of Death (CoD) ascertainment in VAs with a focus on the textual information. Empirical results show that the open response conveys valuable information towards the ascertainment of the Cause of Death, and the combination of the closed-ended questions and the open response lead to the best results. Model interpretation capabilities position the Deep Learning models as the most encouraging choice.

Blanco Alberto, Perez Alicia, Casillas Arantza, Cobos Daniel