Network-Based Research on Rural Opioid Use: an Overview of Methods and Lessons Learned

Curr HIV/AIDS Rep. 2018 Apr;15(2):113-119. doi: 10.1007/s11904-018-0391-2.


Purpose of review: The purpose of this paper is to provide a thorough overview of methods used for recruitment, network data collection, and network data management in a network-based study of rural people who use drugs (PWUD) and to offer methodological recommendations for future research on rural drug use.

Recent findings: The Social Networks among Appalachian People (SNAP) study recruited a cohort of 503 rural PWUD via respondent-driven sampling (RDS) and has retained more than 80% of eligible participants over 7-9 years. SNAP has yielded important methodological insights, including that (1) RDS referral was non-random and disproportionately involved kin and (2) interviewer-administered questionnaires were successful in eliciting accurate name and age information about network members. The SNAP experience suggests that RDS was a successful recruitment strategy for rural PWUD and questionnaires administered by community-based interviewers in the context of a Certificate of Confidentiality could elicit detailed data on PWUD risk networks.

Keywords: Appalachia; HIV; Hepatitis C; Opioid; Rural; Social networks; Substance use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • HIV Infections / complications
  • Humans
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / complications
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Rural Population*