Sampling gay men: Random Digit Dialing versus sources in the Gay Community

J Homosex. 1999;37(4):99-110. doi: 10.1300/J082v37n04_06.


Objectives: To assess the feasibility of obtaining a probability sample of gay/bisexual men using Random Digit Dialing (RDD), assess its validity, and describe differences between such a sample and a sample recruited from sources in the gay community.

Methods: Two samples, one of men participating in an event at the Gay Community Center (N = 26) and one of randomly selected men (N = 52), were recruited by telephone in targeted New York City neighborhoods. A five-minute questionnaire for identifying gay/bisexual men was administered. Respondents who identified themselves as gay/bisexual were also asked about their gay identity and level of affiliation with the gay community.

Results: The screen questionnaire had excellent sensitivity (.96) in identifying gay/bisexual men. RDD sampling identified a high percent of gay/bisexual-identified men (29%). Gay/bisexual men identified through the RDD technique were qualitatively different from gay/bisexual men contacted through the gay community: they were less affiliated with the gay community, had higher levels of internalized homophobia, and differed in the attitudes they endorsed.

Conclusions: To reduce bias imported by sampling highly affiliated respondents, RDD sampling techniques should, and can, be used in studies of gay/bisexual men.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Homosexuality, Male / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • New York City
  • Random Allocation
  • Research Design
  • Sampling Studies*
  • Telephone