• Article

Characteristics of a global classification system for perinatal deaths A Delphi consensus study

Background: Despite the global burden of perinatal deaths, there is currently no single, globally-acceptable classification system for perinatal deaths. Instead, multiple, disparate systems are in use world-wide. This inconsistency hinders accurate estimates of causes of death and impedes effective prevention strategies. The World Health Organisation (WHO) is developing a globally-acceptable classification approach for perinatal deaths. To inform this work, we sought to establish a consensus on the important characteristics of such a system.

Methods: A group of international experts in the classification of perinatal deaths were identified and invited to join an expert panel to develop a list of important characteristics of a quality global classification system for perinatal death. A Delphi consensus methodology was used to reach agreement. Three rounds of consultation were undertaken using a purpose built on-line survey. Round one sought suggested characteristics for subsequent scoring and selection in rounds two and three.

Results: The panel of experts agreed on a total of 17 important characteristics for a globally-acceptable perinatal death classification system. Of these, 10 relate to the structural design of the system and 7 relate to the functional aspects and use of the system.

Conclusion: This study serves as formative work towards the development of a globally-acceptable approach for the classification of the causes of perinatal deaths. The list of functional and structural characteristics identified should be taken into consideration when designing and developing such a system.


Wojcieszek, A. M., Reinebrant, H. E., Leisher, S. H., Allanson, E., Coory, M., Erwich, J. J., ... Flenady, V. (2016). Characteristics of a global classification system for perinatal deaths: A Delphi consensus study. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 16(223), [223]. DOI: 10.1186/s12884-016-0993-x

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