Using Capture-Recapture Methods to Estimate Local Influenza Hospitalization Incidence Rates.


The capture-recapture method offers a more accurate method for estimating influenza hospitalization than relying on a single data source. Using the multiplier method with adjustments improves the detection of influenza disease burden through a matched database. The incidence rates are consistent with national estimates.

Over all seasons, 422 influenza cases were reported in the administrative database and 382 influenza cases in the research database. Seventy-five cases (18%) reported in the administrative database were not captured in the research database, and 35 (9%) cases in the research database were not captured in the administrative database. Completeness of the influenza hospitalization was estimated to be 76%. Influenza hospitalizations were higher among unvaccinated (32%) than vaccinated (22%) in the current season and among unvaccinated (28%) than vaccinated (23%) in the previous year. The incidence rates for influenza hospitalizations varied by age and season and averaged 421 cases/100,000 population annually.

Accurate population estimates of disease incidence and burden are needed to set appropriate public health policy. The capture-recapture (C-R) method combines data from multiple sources to better estimate prevalence than is possible using single sources. This study used the C-R method to estimate influenza cases using research and administrative databases to calculate county-wide influenza hospitalization burden.

Data were derived from a database of clinical virology test results and research data from an influenza vaccine effectiveness study from seasons 2015-2016 to 2018-2019. Missed influenza cases were estimated using C-R method. These estimates were used to calculate disease burden using the multiplier method to correct for underreporting due to curtailing data collection before the end of influenza circulation.

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