Telephone peer recruitment and interviewing during a respondent-driven sampling (RDS) survey: feasibility and field experience from the first phone-based RDS survey among men who have sex with men in Côte d’Ivoire

Inghels, Maxime, Kouassi, Arsène Kra, Niangoran, Serge , Bekelynck, Anne, Carillon, Séverine, Sika, Lazare, Koné, Mariatou, Danel, Christine, Desgrées du Loû, Annabel and Larmarange, Joseph (2021) Telephone peer recruitment and interviewing during a respondent-driven sampling (RDS) survey: feasibility and field experience from the first phone-based RDS survey among men who have sex with men in Côte d’Ivoire. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 21 (1). ISSN 1471-2288

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12874-021-01208-x

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Telephone peer recruitment and interviewing during a respondent-driven sampling (RDS) survey: feasibility and field experience from the first phone-based RDS survey among men who have sex with men in Côte d’Ivoire
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Abstract

Background
Many respondent-driven sampling (RDS) methodologies have been employed to investigate hard-to-reach populations; however, these methodologies present some limits. We describe a minimally investigated RDS methodology in which peer recruitment and interviewing are phone-based. The feasibility of the methodology, field experiences, validity of RDS assumptions and characteristics of the sample obtained are discussed.

Methods
We conducted a phone-based RDS survey among men who have sex with men (MSM) aged 18 or above and living in Côte d’Ivoire. Eight initial MSM across Côte d’Ivoire were selected. Participants were asked to call a hotline to be registered and interviewed by phone. After the participants completed the questionnaire, they were asked to recruit a maximum of 3 MSM from their acquaintances.

Results
During the 9 months of the survey, 576 individuals called the hotline, and 518 MSM completed the questionnaire. The median delay between the invitation to participate and the completion of the questionnaire by peer-recruited MSM was 4 days [IQR: 1–12]. The recruitment process was not constant, with high variation in the number of people who called the hotline during the survey period.
RDS chain convergence to equilibrium was reached within 6 waves for most of the selected variables. For the network size estimation assumption, participants who incorrectly estimated their network size were observed.
Regarding the sample obtained, MSM were recruited from all the regions of Côte d’Ivoire with frequent interregional recruitment; 23.5% of MSM were recruited by someone who does not live in the same region. Compared to the MSM who participated in two other surveys in Côte d’Ivoire, the MSM in our sample were less likely to know about an MSM non-governmental organisation. However, MSM aged 30 years old and above and those with a low level of education were underrepresented in our sample.

Conclusion
We show that phone-based RDS surveys among MSM are feasible in the context of sub-Saharan Africa. Compared to other classical RDS survey methodologies, the phone-based RDS methodology seems to reduce selection bias based on geography and proximity with the MSM community. However, similar to other methodologies, phone-based RDS fails to reach older and less-educated MSM.

Keywords:Phone-based survey, Respondent-driven sampling, Men who have sex with men, Côte d’Ivoire
Subjects:H Engineering > H123 Public Health Engineering
G Mathematical and Computer Sciences > G310 Applied Statistics
G Mathematical and Computer Sciences > G311 Medical Statistics
Divisions:College of Social Science > Lincoln International Institute for Rural Health
ID Code:45125
Deposited On:11 Jun 2021 15:05

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