Indian Journal of PsychiatryIndian Journal of Psychiatry
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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 62  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 631-643

Psychological autopsy: Overview of Indian evidence, best practice elements, and a semi-structured interview guide

1 Department of Psychiatry, Jawaharlal Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry, India
2 Department of Psychiatry, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute, Puducherry, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Vikas Menon
Department of Psychiatry, Jawaharlal Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry - 605 006
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_331_20

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Background: No review has been attempted, so far, on Indian psychological autopsy (PA) literature. There is also a dearth of interview guides which is at the heart of a PA procedure. Materials and Methods: Electronic searches of MEDLINE through PubMed, PsycINFO, and Google scholar databases were carried out from inception till February 2020 to identify relevant English language peer-reviewed articles from India, as well as global literature that provided information on best practice elements in PA. Abstracts generated were systematically screened for eligibility. Relevant data were extracted using a predesigned structured proforma, and a semi-structured interview guide was developed. Results: A total of 18 original articles, one case report, and three reviews/expert opinion articles which tried to give a description of PA procedure were found from India. Most Indian studies are of suicide PA (SPA), done to assess risk factors associated with suicide. There was a wide variation in reported rates of psychiatric morbidity among suicide decedents, while the other major risk factor for suicide in the Indian setting was stressful life events. An optimal approach to PA involves systematically collecting information from key informants and other sources using a narrative interviewing method, supplemented with psychological measures, and is probably best carried out within 1–6 months after the death. Conclusion: There have been limited attempts to standardize PA. Most Indian studies use SPA. We propose a semi-structured PA interview guide, suitable for both research and investigational purposes.



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