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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


ROSSELLI, Diego et al. Estimating the supply of medical specialists in Colombia by using the capture-recapture method. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2001, vol.9, n.6, pp.393-398. ISSN 1680-5348.

Objective. Given that it is not known how many medical doctors there are in Colombia and that, without that datum, studies of demand are simply theoretical exercises, we proposed to estimate the supply of 12 medical specialties in Colombia, using the capture-recapture technique, which was developed by zoologists to estimate wild-animal populations. Methods. Three lists, or "captures," were used: 1) university degrees obtained abroad and graduates of postgraduate programs in Colombia, 2) members of medical societies, and 3) specialists in the principal health care enterprises. To estimate the total population we used the CAPTURE® software program. Results. A total of 24 910 records were obtained: 8 397 from the university records, 6 561 from the scientific societies, and 9 952 from the health care businesses. More than half of the physicians have entered the labor market during the last decade. The estimated number of physicians (with the 95% confidence interval) for each specialty was: anesthesiology, 1 753 (1 727 to 1 789); cardiology, 607 (598 to 624); dermatology, 517 (514 to 525); obstetrics and gynecology, 2 338 (2 290 to 2 400); pulmonary disease, 304 (297 to 320); neurosurgery, 324 (319 to 334); neurology, 321 (296 to 369); ophthalmology, 1 049 (1 042 to 1 061); orthopedics, 1 217 (1 212 to 1 227); otolaryngology, 634 (628 to 645); psychiatry, 855 (838 to 879); and urology, 452 (452 to 458). Conclusions. The capture-recapture technique is useful in the study of human resources. In Colombia the number of specialists doubled in less than a decade. There are specialties that are already oversupplied, such as neurosurgery. All the other specialties show growth rates that indicate a future oversupply for the health care system.

Keywords : Recursos humanos; captura-recaptura; oferta de médicos especialistas; Colombia.

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