Quantifying the under-reporting of uncorrelated longitudal data: the genital warts example

David Moriña*, Amanda Fernández-Fontelo, Alejandra Cabaña, Pedro Puig, Laura Monfil, Maria Brotons, Mireia Diaz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Web of Science)


Background: Genital warts are a common and highly contagious sexually transmitted disease. They have a large economic burden and affect several aspects of quality of life. Incidence data underestimate the real occurrence of genital warts because this infection is often under-reported, mostly due to their specific characteristics such as the asymptomatic course. Methods: Genital warts cases for the analysis were obtained from the Catalan public health system database (SIDIAP) for the period 2009-2016. People under 15 and over 94 years old were excluded from the analysis as the incidence of genital warts in this population is negligible. This work introduces a time series model based on a mixture of two distributions, capable of detecting the presence of under-reporting in the data. In order to identify potential differences in the magnitude of the under-reporting issue depending on sex and age, these covariates were included in the model. Results: This work shows that only about 80% in average of genital warts incidence in Catalunya in the period 2009-2016 was registered, although the frequency of under-reporting has been decreasing over the study period. It can also be seen that this issue has a deeper impact on women over 30 years old. Conclusions: Although this study shows that the quality of the registered data has improved over the considered period of time, the Catalan public health system is underestimating genital warts real burden in almost 10,000 cases, around 23% of the registered cases. The total annual cost is underestimated in about 10 million Euros respect the 54 million Euros annually devoted to genital warts in Catalunya, representing 0.4% of the total budget.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Pages (from-to)6
Number of pages7
JournalBMC Medical Research Methodology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Estimation
  • Genital warts
  • HPV
  • Time series
  • Under-reporting


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