Overlooked Threats to Respondent Driven Sampling Estimators: Peer Recruitment Reality, Degree Measures, and Random Selection Assumption
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© 2017 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC Intensive sociometric network data were collected from a typical respondent driven sample (RDS) of 528 people who inject drugs residing in Hartford, Connecticut in 2012–2013. This rich dataset enabled us to analyze a large number of unobserved network nodes and ties for the purpose of assessing common assumptions underlying RDS estimators. Results show that several assumptions central to RDS estimators, such as random selection, enrollment probability proportional to degree, and recruitment occurring over recruiter’s network ties, were violated. These problems stem from an overly simplistic conceptualization of peer recruitment processes and dynamics. We found nearly half of participants were recruited via coupon redistribution on the street. Non-uniform patterns occurred in multiple recruitment stages related to both recruiter behavior (choosing and reaching alters, passing coupons, etc.) and recruit behavior (accepting/rejecting coupons, failing to enter study, passing coupons to others). Some factors associated with these patterns were also associated with HIV risk.
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