An analysis of respondent driven sampling with injection drug users (IDU) in Albania and the Russian Federation
Stormer,Ame; Tun,Waimar; Guli,Lisa; Harxhi,Arjan; Bodanovskaia,Zinaida; Yakovleva,Anna; Rusakova,Maia; Levina,Olga; Bani,Roland; Rjepaj,Kodian; Bino,Silva
Journal of Urban Health 83(suppl 1): 73-82
Publication date: 2007
Injection drug users (IDUs) in Tirana, Albania, and St. Petersburg, Russia, were recruited into a study assessing HIV-related behaviors and HIV serostatus using respondent-driven sampling (RDS), a peer-driven recruitment sampling strategy that results in a probability sample (Salganik M, Heckathorn DD. Sampling and estimation in hidden populations using respondent-driven sampling. Sociol Method 2004;34:193-239). This paper presents a comparison of RDS implementation, findings on network and recruitment characteristics, and lessons learned. Initiated with 13 to 15 seeds, approximately 200 IDUs were recruited within eight weeks. Information resulting from RDS indicates that social network patterns from the two studies differ greatly. Female IDUs in Tirana had smaller network sizes than male IDUs, unlike in St. Petersburg, where female IDUs had larger network sizes than male IDUs. Recruitment patterns in each country also differed by demographic categories. Recruitment analyses indicate that IDUs form socially distinct groups by sex in Tirana, whereas there was a greater degree of gender mixing patterns in St. Petersburg. RDS proved to be an effective means of surveying these hard-to-reach populations.