Methodological issues in quantifying the magnitude of the tuberculosis problem in a prison population

Hans L. Rieder, C. Anderson, M. Dara, B. Hauer, P. Helbling, K. M. Kam, M. Zwahlen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


SETTING: Correctional settings and remand prisons. OBJECTIVE: To critically discuss calculations for epidemiological indicators of the tuberculosis (TB) burden in prisons and to provide recommendations to improve study comparability. METHODS: A hypothetical data set illustrates issues in determining incidence and prevalence. The appropriate calculation of the incidence rate is presented and problems arising from cross-sectional surveys are clarified. RESULTS: Cases recognized during the first 3 months should be classified as prevalent at entry and excluded from any incidence rate calculation. The numerator for the incidence rate includes persons detected as having developed TB during a specified period of time subsequent to the initial 3 months. The denominator is persontime at risk from 3 months onward to the end point (TB or end of the observation period). Preferably, entry time, exit time and event time are known for each inmate to determine person-time at risk. Failing that, an approximation consists of the sum of monthly head counts, excluding prevalent cases and those persons no longer at risk from both the numerator and the denominator. CONCLUSIONS: The varying durations of inmate incarceration in prisons pose challenges for quantifying the magnitude of the TB problem in the inmate population. Recommendations are made to measure incidence and prevalence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)662-667
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


  • Epidemiology
  • Prisons
  • Tuberculosis


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