Respondent-driven sampling (RDS) is a widely-used variant of snowball sampling. Respondents are selected not from a sampling frame, but from a social network of existing members of the sample. Incentives are provided for participation and for the recruitment of others. Ethical and methodological criticisms have been raised about RDS. In this study RDS was used to recruit male household heads in rural Uganda. We investigated community members’ understanding and experience of the method, and explored how these may have affected the quality of the RDS survey data. Our findings suggest that because participants recruit participants, the use of RDS in medical research may result in increased difficulties in gaining informed consent, and data collected using RDS may be particularly susceptible to bias due to differences in the understanding of key concepts between researchers and members of the community.
|International Journal of Social Research Methodology
|Early online date
|27 Feb 2012
|Published - 2013