Recruitment of hard-to-reach population subgroups via adaptations of the snowball sampling strategy

Nurs Health Sci. 2010 Sep 1;12(3):369-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-2018.2010.00541.x.


Nurse researchers and educators often engage in outreach to narrowly defined populations. This article offers examples of how variations on the snowball sampling recruitment strategy can be applied in the creation of culturally appropriate, community-based information dissemination efforts related to recruitment to health education programs and research studies. Examples from the primary author's program of research are provided to demonstrate how adaptations of snowball sampling can be used effectively in the recruitment of members of traditionally underserved or vulnerable populations. The adaptation of snowball sampling techniques, as described in this article, helped the authors to gain access to each of the more-vulnerable population groups of interest. The use of culturally sensitive recruitment strategies is both appropriate and effective in enlisting the involvement of members of vulnerable populations. Adaptations of snowball sampling strategies should be considered when recruiting participants for education programs or for research studies when the recruitment of a population-based sample is not essential.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Nursing Research*
  • Patient Selection*
  • Research Design*
  • Research Subjects*
  • Sampling Studies