A Web 2.0 and Epidemiology Mash-Up: Successes and challenges in implementation of respondent-driven sampling in combination with social network site recruitment to reach young transgender women
Respondent-driven sampling (RDS) has been proven to be an effective epidemiologic sampling methodology for hard-to-reach populations; however, its application in diverse populations is limited, especially among gender minority youth populations. This mixed methods study describes how we developed, implemented, and assessed the efficacy of an online social network strategy in combination with RDS. Additionally, we describe challenges with RDS peer referral among a qualitative subsample.
Using univariate and bivariate analyses, we assessed the impact our online social network strategy had on the recruitment of 300 young transgender women in the San Francisco Bay Area. Additionally, we conducted focused, semi-structured, qualitative interviews with 16 participants to investigate the reasons why youth did or did not refer peers to the study.
Compared to RDS-only, online social network sampling in combination with RDS reached a sample that was younger (χ2=9.19, P = .03), gender non-conforming (χ2=10.4247, P = .03), with less housing instability (50.5% vs. 68.6%, χ2=9.0038, P = .002) and less sex work (19.7% vs. 31.4%, χ2=5.0798, P = .02). Qualitatively, participants discussed specific factors related to study design, study implementation, community characteristics and individual factors which contributed to the RDS peer referral challenges.
Our findings underscore the importance of integrating Web 2.0 technologies and social networking sites with current epidemiologic sampling methods to meet challenges in recruiting vulnerable hard-to-reach populations such as young transgender women. Exploring research participants’ experiences is integral in strengthening future epidemiologic research efforts that plan to use RDS to sample and estimate the hidden epidemics among at-risk youth and transgender women.
Learning Areas:Diversity and culture
Social and behavioral sciences
Identify the four steps that led to creating an online social network strategy used in combination with RDS to recruit a hidden youth population. Describe the challenges related to RDS peer referral among a hidden youth population.
Keyword(s): Internet, Social Media
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Study Coordinator that developed the methods and managed data collection for this presentation. I conducted the analysis in this presentation which is part of my dissertation work. I have worked in HIV/AIDS for over 15 years and have experience in HIV care, prevention and research among sexual and gender minority populations.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.