Validation of an instrument for assessing the medicolegal death investigation system: A public health approach

Stacy Ann Drake, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background. This study validated the content of an instrument designed to assess the performance of the medicolegal death investigation system. The instrument was modified from Version 2.0 of the Local Public Health System Performance Assessment Instrument (CDC) and is based on the 10 Essential Public Health Services. Aims. The aims were to employ a cognitive testing process to interview a randomized sample of medicolegal death investigation office leaders, qualitatively describe the results, and revise the instrument accordingly. Methods. A cognitive testing process was used to validate the survey instrument's content in terms of the how well participants could respond to and interpret the questions. Twelve randomly selected medicolegal death investigation chiefs (or equivalent) that represented the seven types of medicolegal death investigation systems and six different state mandates were interviewed by telephone. The respondents also were representative of the educational diversity within medicolegal death investigation leadership. Based on respondent comments, themes were identified that permitted improvement of the instrument toward collecting valid and reliable information when ultimately used in a field survey format. Results. Responses were coded and classified, which permitted the identification of themes related to Comprehension/Interpretation, Retrieval, Estimate/Judgment, and Response. The majority of respondent comments related to Comprehension/Interpretation of the questions. Respondents identified 67 questions and 6 section explanations that merited rephrasing, adding, or deleting examples or words. In addition, five questions were added based on respondent comments. Conclusion. The content of the instrument was validated by cognitive testing method design. The respondents agreed that the instrument would be a useful and relevant tool for assessing system performance.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Drake, Stacy Ann, "Validation of an instrument for assessing the medicolegal death investigation system: A public health approach" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1467415.