- Capacity planning and resource allocation are crucial to the cost-effective delivery of health care services. In this paper, we present an analytic approach based on a modified version of the Holt-Winters multiplicative seasonality forecasting model to determine the frequency distribution associated with a hospital care unit's census. This paper is a follow-up to the census frequency distribution simulation model described in Lapierre et al. (Socio Econ. Plan. Sci. 33 (1999) 25). We demonstrate that our model can provide census frequency distributions equivalent to the simulation model of Lapierre et al. , but without the computational effort common to simulation models. 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.