A recent article ‘Easier said than done!: methodological challenges with conducting maternal death review research in Malawi’, by V.C. Thorsen, J, Sundby,& T, Meguid. in the BMC Medical Research Methodology, highlights challenges faced during a facility-based MDR study in Malawi. Key points include:
- The researchers recommend using Rapid Ascertainment Process of Institutional Deaths to identify unreported deaths. It involves the identification of all possible wards where women of reproductive age might receive care, reviewing the death records of these women, and finally assessing their pregnancy status.
- A number of challenges around data collection were identified and the researchers recommend using local authorities to help locate community and family members and triangulate data using several perspectives and sources.
- Challenges surrounding data analysis included difficulties in determining the causes of death due to varied accuracy and detail of health professional observations. The researchers recommend using at least two physicians to independently review and classify cause of death or establish a team of experts to review the death together and arrive at a consensus.