Probability Sampling Method for a Hidden Population Using Respondent-Driven Sampling: Simulation for Cancer Survivors

  • Jung, Minsoo (Department of Health Science, Dongduk Women's University)
  • Published : 2015.06.26


When there is no sampling frame within a certain group or the group is concerned that making its population public would bring social stigma, we say the population is hidden. It is difficult to approach this kind of population survey-methodologically because the response rate is low and its members are not quite honest with their responses when probability sampling is used. The only alternative known to address the problems caused by previous methods such as snowball sampling is respondent-driven sampling (RDS), which was developed by Heckathorn and his colleagues. RDS is based on a Markov chain, and uses the social network information of the respondent. This characteristic allows for probability sampling when we survey a hidden population. We verified through computer simulation whether RDS can be used on a hidden population of cancer survivors. According to the simulation results of this thesis, the chain-referral sampling of RDS tends to minimize as the sample gets bigger, and it becomes stabilized as the wave progresses. Therefore, it shows that the final sample information can be completely independent from the initial seeds if a certain level of sample size is secured even if the initial seeds were selected through convenient sampling. Thus, RDS can be considered as an alternative which can improve upon both key informant sampling and ethnographic surveys, and it needs to be utilized for various cases domestically as well.


Respondent-driven sampling;cancer survivors;social network;hidden population;simulation


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