A comparison of respondent-driven and venue-based sampling of female sex workers in Liuzhou, China.

Journal Article

OBJECTIVES: To compare two methods for sampling female sex workers (FSWs) for bio-behavioural surveillance. We compared the populations of sex workers recruited by the venue-based Priorities for Local AIDS Control Efforts (PLACE) method and a concurrently implemented network-based sampling method, respondent-driven sampling (RDS), in Liuzhou, China. METHODS: For the PLACE protocol, all female workers at a stratified random sample of venues identified as places where people meet new sexual partners were interviewed and tested for syphilis. Female workers who reported sex work in the past 4 weeks were categorised as FSWs. RDS used peer recruitment and chain referral to obtain a sample of FSWs. Data were collected between October 2009 and January 2010. We compared the socio-demographic characteristics and the percentage with a positive syphilis test of FSWs recruited by PLACE and RDS. RESULTS: The prevalence of a positive syphilis test was 24% among FSWs recruited by PLACE and 8.5% among those recruited by RDS and tested (prevalence ratio 3.3; 95% CI 1.5 to 7.2). Socio-demographic characteristics (age, residence and monthly income) also varied by sampling method. PLACE recruited fewer FSWs than RDS (161 vs 583), was more labour-intensive and had difficulty gaining access to some venues. RDS was more likely to recruit from areas near the RDS office and from large low prevalence entertainment venues. CONCLUSIONS: Surveillance protocols using different sampling methods can obtain different estimates of prevalence and population characteristics. Venue-based and network-based methods each have strengths and limitations reflecting differences in design and assumptions. We recommend that more research be conducted on measuring bias in bio-behavioural surveillance.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Weir, SS; Merli, MG; Li, J; Gandhi, AD; Neely, WW; Edwards, JK; Suchindran, CM; Henderson, GE; Chen, X-S

Published Date

  • December 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 88 Suppl 2 /

Start / End Page

  • i95 - 101

PubMed ID

  • 23172350

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1472-3263

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1136/sextrans-2012-050638


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England