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Assessing the sensitivity of STD surveillance in the Netherlands: an application of the capture–recapture method

  • R. REINTJES (a1), F. TERMORSHUIZEN (a1) and M. J. W. van de LAAR (a1)

Abstract

The capture–recapture method was used to estimate the sensitivity of case finding in two national STD surveillance systems: (1) STD registration at municipal health services (STD-MHS); (2) statutory notification by clinicians (NNS). To identify those cases common to both surveillance systems, cases from 1995 were compared using individual identifiers. Estimated sensitivities for syphilis were: STD-MHS 31% (95% CI: 27–35%), NNS 64% (56–71%); and for gonorrhoea: STD-MHS 15% (14–18%), NNS 22% (19–25%). The combined sensitivity of both systems was 76% for syphilis and 34% for gonorrhoea. Differences in the sensitivity of the systems were significant. The NNS was more sensitive than the STD-MHS, and the identification of cases was significantly more sensitive for syphilis than for gonorrhoea. A stratified analysis showed comparable results for the two sexes. Knowledge on the sensitivity of surveillance systems is useful for public health decisions and essential for international comparisons.

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