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Under-Reporting of Road Traffic Mortality in Developing Countries: Application of a Capture-Recapture Statistical Model to Refine Mortality Estimates
Published: Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Author: Jonathan C. Samuel et al.

by Jonathan C. Samuel, Edward Sankhulani, Javeria S. Qureshi, Paul Baloyi, Charles Thupi, Clara N. Lee, William C. Miller, Bruce A. Cairns, Anthony G. Charles

Road traffic injuries are a major cause of preventable death in sub-Saharan Africa. Accurate epidemiologic data are scarce and under-reporting from primary data sources is common. Our objectives were to estimate the incidence of road traffic deaths in Malawi using capture-recapture statistical analysis and determine what future efforts will best improve upon this estimate. Our capture-recapture model combined primary data from both police and hospital-based registries over a one year period (July 2008 to June 2009). The mortality incidences from the primary data sources were 0.075 and 0.051 deaths/1000 person-years, respectively. Using capture-recapture analysis, the combined incidence of road traffic deaths ranged 0.192–0.209 deaths/1000 person-years. Additionally, police data were more likely to include victims who were male, drivers or pedestrians, and victims from incidents with greater than one vehicle involved. We concluded that capture-recapture analysis is a good tool to estimate the incidence of road traffic deaths, and that capture-recapture analysis overcomes limitations of incomplete data sources. The World Health Organization estimated incidence of road traffic deaths for Malawi utilizing a binomial regression model and survey data and found a similar estimate despite strikingly different methods, suggesting both approaches are valid. Further research should seek to improve capture-recapture data through utilization of more than two data sources and improving accuracy of matches by minimizing missing data, application of geographic information systems, and use of names and civil registration numbers if available.
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