Assessing representativeness of sampling methods for reaching men who have sex with men: a direct comparison of results obtained from convenience and probability samples

AIDS Behav. 2007 Jul;11(4):596-602. doi: 10.1007/s10461-007-9232-9. Epub 2007 Apr 11.


Convenience samples are used to determine HIV-related behaviors among men who have sex with men (MSM) without measuring the extent to which the results are representative of the broader MSM population. We compared results from a cross-sectional survey of MSM recruited from gay bars between June and October 2001 to a random digit dial telephone survey conducted between June 2002 and January 2003. The men in the probability sample were older, better educated, and had higher incomes than men in the convenience sample, the convenience sample enrolled more employed men and men of color. Substance use around the time of sex was higher in the convenience sample but other sexual behaviors were similar. HIV testing was common among men in both samples. Periodic validation, through comparison of data collected by different sampling methods, may be useful when relying on survey data for program and policy development.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection / methods*
  • Demography
  • HIV Infections* / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections* / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections* / transmission
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Homosexuality, Male*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Telephone