Sparked by the need to inform the response to the spread of HIV/AIDS in drug-injecting populations in the 1980s and the desire to base local, national and international responses to tackling drug use in the 1990s on solid epidemiological data, the mark-recapture method has increasingly been used to estimate the prevalence of drug use. Richard Cormack provided support and advice to some of the first United Kingdom and European studies to estimate drug use prevalence in this way. The approach he outlined, using macros that he developed, has led to the mark-recapture method being used to systematically assess the use of drugs such as heroin or other opioids in the United Kingdom and across Europe. We review the development of the method when applied to estimating the size of drug-using populations, including the use of Bayesian methods. We discuss its limitations and various criticisms that have been voiced.
"Estimating the Prevalence of Drug Use Using Mark-Recapture Methods." Statist. Sci. 31 (2) 191 - 204, May 2016. https://doi.org/10.1214/16-STS553