Volume 69, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


We evaluated the completeness and differential ascertainment of vital events in children less than five years old registered in two rounds of a demographic surveillance system (DSS) in western Kenya using a two-sample capture-recapture. The primary lists consisted of births and child deaths identified by two rounds of the DSS conducted in October 2000 and August 2001. The secondary lists consisted of births and child deaths identified independently from two surveys of 5,000 randomly selected households conducted immediately after each DSS round, covering the same population over the same time period. Analysis of the overlap between lists yielded the following sensitivities for the two DSS rounds: 62% and 49%, respectively, for identifying neonatal deaths (<1 month); 72% and 78%, respectively, for post-neonatal child deaths (1–59 months); and 88% and 78%, respectively, for identifying newborns. Female deaths were less likely to be reported than male deaths. The primary limitation of using capture-recapture in this setting was difficulty in matching between lists due to inconsistent dates of birth and death and variability in spelling of names. Assuming limitations of current methods are sufficiently addressed, capture-recapture appears to be a useful tool in evaluating DSS completeness and differential ascertainment of vital events.


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  • Received : 04 Feb 2003
  • Accepted : 26 Apr 2003

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