Social Autopsy Consultant

Job Type
Job ID
Date Posted
Baltimore, MD USA and off-site
Company Information
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the COMSA (Comprehensive Mortality Surveillance for Action) project, the Johns Hopkins University’s Institute for International Programs is reviewing its social autopsy instruments and developing standard long and short forms of the tools integrated with the standard World Health Organization’s verbal autopsy instrument. Just as the WHO VA has enabled generation of improved and comparable cause of death statistics from low and middle income countries throughout the world, consensus SA tools are needed to collect a standard dataset on critical social and health systems factors underlying death.

Aspects of the social autopsy development work will include forming a small core group of experts to review and comment on the current JHU/IIP SA instrument and other available SA tools and provide input toward developing consensus standard forms; drafting and finalizing standalone SA and integrated VASA instruments based on this input; and developing and finalizing complementary tools needed to complete a VASA toolkit.

A consultant is needed to assist with the following tasks:

• Conduct a comprehensive literature review of SA instruments, including, if necessary, contacting authors to receive copies of the tools. For each instrument, summarize the following elements to share with the SA core expert group:
o Organizing principle
o Key formatting elements
o Indicators
o Implementation and evidence of success
 PAPI/CAPI data collection, interview time, respondent and interviewer commentary
 Studies conducted with the instruments
 Impact of the studies on policies and programs

• Assist with organizing and convening meetings of the SA core group to review the JHU/IIP and other SA tools to generate options for standard short and long SA instruments and integrated verbal and social autopsy instruments:
o Develop a sheet with headings on key elements (e.g., organizing principle, formatting elements to retain, indicators/questions to retain) of an SA tool and a narrative section for the core group members to utilize in their pre-meeting review of the SA instruments
o Consolidate and summarize the comments and input of the SA experts, and present the summary comments at the first SA core group meeting
o Tentative dates and venue for the first meeting: 12/16-18/2019 at JHU in Baltimore

• Draft long-form and short-form SA instruments and integrated VASA instruments, including key formatting elements and retained indicators/questions:
o Draft SA instruments, with formatting and indicators/questions based on the SA review group consensus reached at the first meeting
o Integrate the draft SA tools with the latest WHO VA instrument in the same chronological manner as the current JHU/IIP VASA tool

• Assist with writing/revising VASA toolkit supporting materials for long- and short-form instruments, e.g.:
o Trainer’s (TOI) manual and training slides (current version slides available)
o Interviewer’s reference manual (current version available)
o Interviewer’s and supervisor’s checklists (current versions available)
o Recruitment scripts and consent/assent forms (current versions available)
o Role plays and guides for common problematic data collection issues (current versions available)
o Case studies of deaths of all possible age groups and sexes (current versions of maternal and child case studies available)
o SA data analysis and presentation guide (rough draft current version available)


The work will begin upon signing of the consultant contract, and must be completed by June 30, 2020. The following table summarizes major tasks and their target completion dates.

Milestone # Due Date Deliverables
1 November 15, 2019 Draft literature review and summary of the review of social autopsy instruments
2 November 30, 2019 Finalized literature review and summary of the review of social autopsy instruments, and materials for the SA core group to utilize in their reviews of the SA instruments
3 January 15, 2020 Preliminary drafts of long-form and short form SA instruments and integrated VASA instruments based on the SA core groups’ input
4 February 15, 2020 Final drafts of long-form and short form SA instruments and integrated VASA instruments based on the SA core groups’ input
5 April 30, 2020 Drafts of the above-listed VASA toolkit supporting materials
6 June 30, 2020 Final versions of the above-listed VASA toolkit supporting materials

Work setting:

Much of the work can be conducted off-site from Johns Hopkins University. The consultant will maintain close contact with the VASA review/update activity principal, who will supervise the consultant and provide current JHU/IIP SA and VASA instruments and draft supporting materials upon which the activity will build. The consultant will participate in the initial SA core group meeting, to be held in Baltimore.

• Master’s degree or higher in a public health discipline • Demonstrated knowledge of verbal and social autopsy • Experience in developing verbal and social autopsy instruments and/or implementing VA or VASA studies in one or more LMIC settings a plus • Excellent writing and verbal presentation skills • Detail oriented • Fully capable user of MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint • Authorship of published scientific papers, especially review articles, a plus • Ability to work independently, while maintaining close contact with the VASA activity principal
Please send a maximum 4-page CV and cover letter describing your relevant experience and interest in the position to: Closing date for applications is October 11. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.