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Epidemiol Infect. 2007 Aug;135(6):1021-9. Epub 2006 Dec 7.

Completeness of notification of tuberculosis in The Netherlands: how reliable is record-linkage and capture-recapture analysis?

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Department of Infectious Disease Control, Rotterdam Public Health Service, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


The aim of this study was to describe a systematic process of record-linkage, cross-validation, case-ascertainment and capture-recapture analysis to assess the quality of tuberculosis registers and to estimate the completeness of notification of incident tuberculosis cases in The Netherlands in 1998. After record-linkage and cross-validation 1499 tuberculosis patients were identified, of whom 1298 were notified, resulting in an observed under-notification of 13.4%. After adjustment for possible imperfect record-linkage and remaining false-positive hospital cases observed under-notification was 7.3%. Log-linear capture-recapture analysis initially estimated a total number of 2053 (95% CI 1871-2443) tuberculosis cases, resulting in an estimated under-notification of 36.8%. After adjustment for possible imperfect record-linkage and remaining false-positive hospital cases various capture-recapture models estimated under-notification at 13.6%. One of the reasons for the higher than expected estimated under-notification in a country with a well-organized system of tuberculosis control might be that some tuberculosis cases, e.g. extrapulmonary tuberculosis, are managed by clinicians less familiar with notification of infectious diseases. This study demonstrates the possible impact of violation of assumptions underlying capture-recapture analysis, especially the perfect record-linkage, perfect positive predictive value and absent three-way interaction assumptions.

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