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Respondent driven sampling: determinants of recruitment and a method to improve point estimation

McCreesh, N; Copas, A; Seeley, J; Johnston, LG; Sonnenberg, P; Hayes, RJ; Frost, SD; (2013) Respondent driven sampling: determinants of recruitment and a method to improve point estimation. PLoS One , 8 (10) , Article e78402. 10.1371/journal.pone.0078402. Green open access

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Abstract

Introduction Respondent-driven sampling (RDS) is a variant of a link-tracing design intended for generating unbiased estimates of the composition of hidden populations that typically involves giving participants several coupons to recruit their peers into the study. RDS may generate biased estimates if coupons are distributed non-randomly or if potential recruits present for interview non-randomly. We explore if biases detected in an RDS study were due to either of these mechanisms, and propose and apply weights to reduce bias due to non-random presentation for interview. Methods Using data from the total population, and the population to whom recruiters offered their coupons, we explored how age and socioeconomic status were associated with being offered a coupon, and, if offered a coupon, with presenting for interview. Population proportions were estimated by weighting by the assumed inverse probabilities of being offered a coupon (as in existing RDS methods), and also of presentation for interview if offered a coupon by age and socioeconomic status group. Results Younger men were under-recruited primarily because they were less likely to be offered coupons. The under-recruitment of higher socioeconomic status men was due in part to them being less likely to present for interview. Consistent with these findings, weighting for non-random presentation for interview by age and socioeconomic status group greatly improved the estimate of the proportion of men in the lowest socioeconomic group, reducing the root-mean-squared error of RDS estimates of socioeconomic status by 38%, but had little effect on estimates for age. The weighting also improved estimates for tribe and religion (reducing root-mean-squared-errors by 19–29%), but had little effect for sexual activity or HIV status. Conclusions Data collected from recruiters on the characteristics of men to whom they offered coupons may be used to reduce bias in RDS studies. Further evaluation of this new method is required.

Type: Article
Title: Respondent driven sampling: determinants of recruitment and a method to improve point estimation
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0078402
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0078402
Language: English
Additional information: © 2013 McCreesh et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. PMCID: PMC3814964
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health > Infection and Population Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1415010
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