Current HIV/AIDS Reports

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 113–119 | Cite as

Network-Based Research on Rural Opioid Use: an Overview of Methods and Lessons Learned

  • April M. YoungEmail author
  • Abby E. Rudolph
  • Jennifer R. Havens
The Global Epidemic (SH Vermund, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on The Global Epidemic


Purpose of Review

The purpose of this paper is to provide a thorough overview of methods used for recruitment, network data collection, and network data management in a network-based study of rural people who use drugs (PWUD) and to offer methodological recommendations for future research on rural drug use.

Recent Findings

The Social Networks among Appalachian People (SNAP) study recruited a cohort of 503 rural PWUD via respondent-driven sampling (RDS) and has retained more than 80% of eligible participants over 7–9 years. SNAP has yielded important methodological insights, including that (1) RDS referral was non-random and disproportionately involved kin and (2) interviewer-administered questionnaires were successful in eliciting accurate name and age information about network members.


The SNAP experience suggests that RDS was a successful recruitment strategy for rural PWUD and questionnaires administered by community-based interviewers in the context of a Certificate of Confidentiality could elicit detailed data on PWUD risk networks.


Social networks Rural Substance use HIV Hepatitis C Appalachia Opioid 



We would like to acknowledge the community-based study staff for the critical role they have played in the success of the project.


The Social Networks among Appalachian People (SNAP) study described in this review was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (grant R01 DA024598 and R01 DA033862).

The qualitative ethics research was funded in part by the Fordham University HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute and National Institutes of Drug Abuse (Grant R25 DA031608).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

April M. Young reports grants from National Institute on Drug Abuse and from National Institute of Mental Health.

Abby E. Rudolph reports a grant from National Institute on Drug Abuse (K01 DA033879).

Jennifer R. Havens declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • April M. Young
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Abby E. Rudolph
    • 3
  • Jennifer R. Havens
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of EpidemiologyUniversity of Kentucky College of Public HealthLexingtonUSA
  2. 2.Center on Drug and Alcohol ResearchUniversity of Kentucky College of MedicineLexingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of EpidemiologyBoston University School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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