Implementation of web-based respondent driven sampling in epidemiological studies

Pedro Ferrer-Rosende, María Feijoo-Cid, María Isabel Fernández-Cano, Sergio Salas-Nicás, Valeria Stuardo-Ávila, Albert Navarro-Giné

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Respondent-driven sampling (RDS) is a peer chain-recruitment method for populations without a sampling frame or that are hard-to-reach. Although RDS is usually done face-to-face, the online version (WebRDS) has drawn a lot of attention as it has many potential benefits, despite this, to date there is no clear framework for its implementation. This article aims to provide guidance for researchers who want to recruit through a WebRDS. METHODS: Description of the development phase: guidance is provided addressing aspects related to the formative research, the design of the questionnaire, the implementation of the coupon system using a free software and the diffusion plan, using as an example a web-based cross-sectional study conducted in Spain between April and June 2022 describing the working conditions and health status of homecare workers for dependent people. RESULTS: The application of the survey: we discuss about the monitoring strategies throughout the recruitment process and potential problems along with proposed solutions. CONCLUSIONS: Under certain conditions, it is possible to obtain a sample with recruitment performance similar to that of other RDS without the need for monetary incentives and using a free access software, considerably reducing costs and allowing its use to be extended to other research groups.

Original languageEnglish
Article number217
Pages (from-to)217
Number of pages1
JournalBMC Medical Research Methodology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Epidemiologic methods
  • Hard-to-reach populations
  • Respondent-driven sampling
  • Web based sampling
  • WebRDS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Informatics


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