Respondent-Driven Sampling in the Recruitment of Illicit Stimulant Drug Users in a Rural Setting: Findings and Technical Issues

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Increasingly, respondent-driven sampling (RDS) is being applied to study not-in-treatment users of illicit drugs. Although RDS has been successfully applied in recruiting active users in densely-populated, metropolitan areas, its utility with hidden populations in rural areas has yet to be determined. This study critically evaluates the sample of not-in-treatment, illicit stimulant drug users (n=249) recruited from the application of RDS in three rural counties in west-central Ohio. The findings of this study largely support the results of earlier studies in urban areas and suggest that RDS is a useful method of sampling hidden drug using populations in less densely populated rural areas. Some limitations of RDS are also discussed.