Estimating the number of injection drug users in greater Victoria, Canada using capture-recapture methods

Date

2014-03-03

Authors

Xu, Yuan
Fyfe, Murray
Walker, Liz
Cowen, Laura L.E.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Harm Reduction Journal

Abstract

Background: Population size estimation is critical for planning public health programmes for injection drug users. Estimation is difficult, as these populations are considered ‘hidden’ or ‘hard to reach’. The currently accepted population size estimate for greater Victoria, Canada is between 1,500 and 2,000 individuals, which is dated prior to the year 2000, and is likely an underestimate. Methods: We used three mark-recapture methods (the Lincoln-Petersen estimator, Huggins' model, and Pledger's model) to estimate population size using cross-sectional survey data collected in 2003 and 2005. Data come from a closed population with two time-ordered samples from the same source. We compare our estimates with the currently accepted estimate that is based on the registry of a Victoria needle exchange. Results: All methods provided population size estimates that were higher than the currently accepted estimate. Huggins' method produced wider confidence intervals. Point estimates of population size from the three methods ranged from 3,329 to 3,342. Conclusions: Our estimates will aid health authorities in planning for harm reduction programmes. Repeating the methods as further phases of I-Track data become available will ensure that the population estimates remain up to date.

Description

BioMed Central

Keywords

Injection drug user, Public health, Capture-recapture, Population size

Citation

Xu et al.: Estimating the number of injection drug users in greater Victoria, Canada using capture-recapture methods. Harm Reduction Journal 2014 11:9.