Estimating the number of people who inject drugs in a rural county in Appalachia

Sean T. Allen, Allison O'Rourke, Rebecca Hamilton White, Kristin E. Schneider, Michael Kilkenny, Susan G. Sherman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Objectives. To demonstrate how we applied the capture-recapture method for population estimation directly in a rural Appalachian county (Cabell County, WV) to estimate the number of people who inject drugs (PWID). Methods. We conducted 2 separate 2-week periods of data collection in June (“capture”) and July (“recapture”) 2018. We recruited PWID from a syringe services program and in community locations where PWID were known to congregate. Participants completed a survey that included measures related to sociodemographics, substance use, and HIV and hepatitis C virus prevention. Results. In total, 797 surveys were completed; of these surveys, 49.6% (n = 395) reflected PWID who reported injection drug use in the past 6 months and Cabell County residence. We estimated that there were 1857 (95% confidence interval = 1147, 2567) PWID in Cabell County. Among these individuals, most reported being White (83.4%), younger than 40 years (70.9%), and male (59.5%). The majority reported injecting heroin (82.0%), methamphetamine (71.0%), and fentanyl (56.3%) in the past 6 months. Conclusions. Capture-recapture methods can be applied in rural settings to estimate the size of PWID populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)445-450
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Estimating the number of people who inject drugs in a rural county in Appalachia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this