Causes of death among adults in northern Ethiopia: Evidence from verbal autopsy data in health and demographic surveillance system

Yohannes Adama Melaku, Berhe Weldearegawi Sahle, Fisaha Haile Tesfay, Afework Mulugeta Bezabih, Alemseged Aregay, Semaw Ferede Abera, Loko Abreha, Gordon Alexander Zello

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In countries where registration of vital events is lacking and the proportion of people who die at home without medical care is high, verbal autopsy is used to determine and estimate causes of death. Methods: We conducted 723 verbal autopsy interviews of adult (15 years of age and above) deaths from September 2009 to January 2013. Trained physicians interpreted the collected verbal autopsy data, and assigned causes of death according to the international classification of diseases (ICD-10). We did analysis of specific as well as broad causes of death (i.e. non-communicable diseases, communicable diseases and external causes of death) by sex and age using Stata version 11.1. We performed logistic regression to identify socio-demographic predictors using odds ratio with 95% confidence interval and a p-value of 0.05. Findings: Tuberculosis, cerebrovascular diseases and accidental falls were leading specific causes of death accounting for 15.9%, 7.3% and 3.9% of all deaths. Two hundred sixty three (36.4% [95% CI: 32.9, 39.9]), 252 (34.9% [95% CI: 31.4, 38.4]) and 89 (12.3% [95% CI: 10.1, 14.9]) deaths were due to non-communicable, communicable diseases, and external causes, respectively. Females had 1.5 times (AOR = 1.53 [95% CI: 1.10, 2.15]) higher odds of dying due to communicable diseases than males. The odds of dying due to external causes were 4 times higher among 15-49 years of age (AOR = 4.02 [95% CI: 2.25, 7.18]) compared to older ages. Males also had 1.7 times (AOR = 1.70 [95% CI: 1.01, 2.85]) higher odds of dying due to external causes than females. Conclusion: Tuberculosis, cerebrovascular diseases and accidental falls were the top three causes of death among adults. Efforts to prevent tuberculosis and cerebrovascular diseases related deaths should be improved and safety efforts to reduce accidents should also receive attention.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere106781
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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