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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 136  |  Issue : 7  |  Page : 36-43

Recruitment of at-risk population through network based sampling: experiences from Maharashtra IBBA Round-I survey

1 National AIDS Research Institute (ICMR), Pune, India
2 National AIDS Research Institute (ICMR), Pune; Formally associated with Family Health International, New Delhi, India
3 National AIDS Research Institute (ICMR), Pune; Formally associated with IBBA project in National AIDS Research Institute, Pune, India

Correspondence Address:
Ramesh Paranjape
Director, National AIDS Research Institute (ICMR), Plot No. 73, "G" Block, M.I.D.C. Bhosari, Pune 411 026
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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Background & objectives: Respondent Driven Sampling (RDS) method is increasingly being used for surveys among hard to reach populations. It essentially relies on the networking among the target population. Key behavioural indicators, HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevalence were measured under Integrated Behavioural and Biological Assessment (IBBA), designed to study the impact of Avahan India AIDS Initiative. RDS surveys were conducted in 2006 and 2007 among high risk populations. Methods: Four separate surveys covered female sex workers (FSW) (Mumbai, Parabhani), Bar Girl (Mumbai) and injecting drug users (IDU) (Mumbai-Thane) population through RDS. Respondents were recruited through the personal and social networks of the initially selected "seeds". Successive recruitments were done through snowball effect. Duel compensation for participation and recruitment was given. Three uniquely numbered coupons were given to recruit peers from network. Through subsequent waves of recruitment desirable sample was achieved. Informed and voluntary consent was obtained. Results: A total of 338 bar girls, 403 FSWs (Mumbai), 367 FSW (Parbhani) and 376 IDUs (Mumbai/Thane) were recruited through RDS. The desired samples were achieved within three months period. Average seeds recruited for each survey ranged from 22 to 35. Average reported network size ranged from 4.8 to 13.2. Homophily index for each survey group was found to be 0.0 except for bar girl survey (0.3). Some seeds yielded multiple waves of recruitment while many failed to go beyond first wave. Interpretation & conclusions: Our findings suggest that RDS does not appear to recruit more marginalized or undercovered section of the targeted group. Greater preparatory activity and better understanding of networks may be required for setting up appropriate venues across geographical boundaries. Further in-depth network analysis is needed in diverse regional structures and population coverage in conducting RDS surveys locally.

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