Estimating the size of the homeless adolescent population across seven cities in Cambodia

Lindsay Stark, Beth L. Rubenstein, Kimchoeun Pak, Rosemary Taing, Gary Yu, Sok Kosal, Leslie Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The Government of Cambodia has committed to supporting family care for vulnerable children, including homeless populations. Collecting baseline data on the numbers and characteristics of homeless adolescents was prioritized to illuminate the scope of the issue, mobilize resources and direct the response. Methods: Administrative zones across seven cities were purposively selected to cover the main urban areas known to have homeless populations in Cambodia. A complete enumeration of homeless individuals between the ages of 13 and 17 was attempted in the selected areas. In addition, a second independent count was conducted to enable a statistical estimation of completeness based on overlap across counts. This technique is known as capture-recapture. Adolescents were also interviewed about their schooling, health and other circumstances. Results: After adjustment by the capture-recapture corrective multipliers (range: 3.53 -27.08), the study yielded an estimate of 2,697 13-17 year old homeless adolescents across all seven cities. The total number of homeless boys counted was significantly greater than homeless girls, especially in older ages. Conclusions: To the authors' knowledge, this is the first time capture-recapture methods have been applied to a homeless estimation of this scale in a resource-limited setting. Findings suggest the number of homeless adolescents in Cambodia is much greater than one would expect if relying on single count data alone and that this population faces many hardships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number13
JournalBMC Medical Research Methodology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 26 2017


  • Adolescents
  • Cambodia
  • Capture-recapture
  • Homeless

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Informatics


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