An application of capture-recapture methods to the estimation of completeness of cancer registration

J Clin Epidemiol. 1988;41(5):495-501. doi: 10.1016/0895-4356(88)90052-2.


Completeness of cancer registration has not been consistently ascertained across different registries. This report describes how capture-recapture methods have been used to estimate completeness at the Ontario Cancer Registry. The method was applied in two fashions; first, using three data sources in a modeling approach: and second, using two data sources and standard, simple capture-recapture methods. The modeling approach is more flexible, since several variables that influence cancer registration can be considered and can be used to identify reporting patterns of different data sources. In the present analysis, estimates of completeness of the registry as a whole were remarkably similar using either two or three data sources, and site-specific comparisons differed by at most 7%. Because of the advantages of capture-recapture methods-estimation of level of completeness, possible comparability of estimates across different registries, and versatility to consider other determinants of cancer registration-a plea for greater use of these methods in cancer registration is made.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection / methods
  • Death Certificates
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Ontario
  • Patient Discharge
  • Registries*
  • Research Design