, Volume 83, Issue 1 Supplement, pp 73-82,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 31 Oct 2006

An Analysis of Respondent Driven Sampling with Injection Drug Users (IDU) in Albania and the Russian Federation


Injection drug users 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 8 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.