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Estimating the prevalence of drug misuse in Dundee, Scotland: an application of capture-recapture methods.
  1. G Hay,
  2. N McKeganey
  1. Centre for Drug Misuse Research, University of Glasgow.


    STUDY OBJECTIVES: To apply capture-recapture methods to provide an estimate of the prevalence of opiate and benzodiazepine misuse in Dundee, Scotland. DESIGN: A four sample capture-recapture method using data from both statutory and non-statutory data sources to estimate drug misuse prevalence in Dundee between January 1990 and December 1994. PARTICIPANTS: Users of benzodiazepines or opiates residing within Dundee. RESULTS: Altogether 855 drug misusers were identified from various sources within Dundee; many were identified from more than one source. Using this data, the estimated unknown population was 1702, giving a total population of 2557 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1974, 3458) who misuse benzodiazepines or opiates. This represents a prevalence of 28.8 (95% CI 22.3, 39.0) per thousand. CONCLUSIONS: Capture-recapture techniques can be applied to statutory and non-statutory agency data to produce an estimate of at least certain sections of the drug misusing population. However, it is important to recognise the limitations of this methodology and in future to seek to combine a range of approaches to the problem of estimating prevalence rather than sticking rigidly to any single approach.

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