Community understanding of respondent-driven sampling in a medical research setting in Uganda: Importance for the use of RDS for public health research

Nicky McCreesh, Matilda Nadagire Tarsh, Janet Seeley, Joseph Katongole, Richard G. White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-284
JournalInternational Journal of Social Research Methodology
Issue number4
Early online date27 Feb 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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