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Incidence estimation from sentinel surveillance data; a simulation study and application to data from the Belgian laboratory sentinel surveillance

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

BackgroundInverse probability weighting (IPW) methods can be used to estimate the total number of cases from the sample collected through sentinel surveillance. Central to these methods are the inverse weights which can be derived in several ways and, in this case, represent the probability that laboratory (lab) sentinel surveillance detects a lab-confirmed case.MethodsWe compare different weights in a simulation study. Weights are obtained from the proportion of participating labs over all labs. We adjust these weights for attractiveness and density of labs over population. The market share of sentinel labs, as estimated by the econometric Huff-model, is also considered. Additionally, we investigate the effect of not recognizing sentinel labs as sentinel labs when they report no cases. We estimate the bias associated with the different weights as the difference between the simulated number of cases and the estimate of this total from the sentinel sample.As motivating data examples, we apply an extended Huff-model to four pathogens under laboratory sentinel surveillance in Belgium between 2010 and 2015 and discuss the model fit. We estimate the total number of lab-confirmed cases associated with Rotavirus, influenza virus, Y. enterocolitica and Campylobacter spp.. The extended Huff-model takes the lab-concept, the number of reimbursements and the number of departments, lab-density, regional borders, distance and competition between labs in account.ResultsEstimates obtained with the Huff-model were most accurate in the more complex simulation scenarios as compared to other weights. In the data examples, several significant coefficients are identified, but the fit of the Huff-model to the Belgian sentinel surveillance data leaves much variability in market shares unexplained.ConclusionThe Huff-model allows for estimation of the spatial and population coverage of sentinel surveillance and through IPW-methods also for the estimation of the total number of cases. The Huff-models gravity function allows us to differentiate inside an area while estimating from the full dataset. Our data examples show that additional data on the participation to surveillance and practices of labs is necessary for a more accurate estimation.
Journal: BMC Public Health
Volume: 19
Number of pages: 18
Publication year:2019