Detail from "the second line," a painting by Bob Graham. For more about the artist, click here.

Online Program

Respondent-Driven Sampling for recruiting persons from Burma who eat Great Lakes fish, Buffalo, New York

*Julie Reuther, New York State Department of Health 
Elizabeth L Lewis-Michl, New York State Department of Health 
Robin Lee, CDC/ATSDR 
Wendy Wattigney, CDC/ATSDR  
Katy Brown, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper 
Anna Ireland, Jericho Road Ministries 

Keywords: Respondent-Driven Sampling,hard-to-reach population,sampling methods,refugees,Burma

Persons from Burma and their descendants who are living in the City of Buffalo, New York, are believed to regularly eat potentially contaminated fish from the Great Lakes. As part of the Great Lakes biomonitoring program there we will study this population’s exposure to persistent toxic substances in the Great Lakes and their tributaries. However, it may be difficult to obtain a representative sample of this population because there is no known sampling frame, the population is small (4-6,000 individuals), many do not speak English or read or write in their own language, and they may not be identified using traditional survey methods. In fall 2012, we will use Respondent-Driven Sampling (RDS) to recruit 200 refugees from Burma. This presentation will highlight the formative research used to characterize the local Burmese population that eats Great Lakes fish and plans for selection of seeds (initial recruits) to obtain a representative sample. We will discuss how we worked with local community organizations to identify seeds. We learned many refugees eat fish they did not catch themselves. We will discuss how these population characteristics might affect RDS recruitment.

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