Implementation challenges to using respondent-driven sampling methodology for HIV biological and behavioral surveillance: field experiences in international settings

AIDS Behav. 2008 Jul;12(4 Suppl):S131-41. doi: 10.1007/s10461-008-9413-1. Epub 2008 Jun 6.


Using respondent-driven sampling (RDS), we gathered data from 128 HIV surveillance studies conducted outside the United States through October 1, 2007. We examined predictors of poor study outcomes, reviewed operational, design and analytical challenges associated with conducting RDS in international settings and offer recommendations to improve HIV surveillance. We explored factors for poor study outcomes using differences in mean sample size ratios (recruited/calculated sample size) as the outcome variable. Ninety-two percent of studies reported both calculated and recruited sample sizes. Studies of injecting drug users had a higher sample size ratio compared with other risk groups. Study challenges included appropriately defining eligibility criteria, structuring social network size questions, selecting design effects and conducting statistical analysis. As RDS is increasingly used for HIV surveillance, it is important to learn from past practical, theoretical and analytical challenges to maximize the utility of this method.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection / methods*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Humans
  • Internationality*
  • Male
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sample Size
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sentinel Surveillance
  • Sexual Behavior