Forthcoming article in American Journal of Epidemiology

Respondent-driven sampling to assess outcomes of sexual violence: a methodological assessment

ABSTRACT: Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) is pervasive in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Survivors of sexual violence encounter numerous challenges and women with a sexual violence-related pregnancy (SVRP) face even more complex sequelae. Due to the stigma associated with SGBV there’s a lack of an effective sampling frame and therefore, a paucity of research on SVRP outcomes. Respondent-driven sampling (RDS), employed to study this “hidden” population, utilizes a peer-recruitment sampling system that maintains strict participant privacy, and controls and tracks recruitment. If RDS assumptions are met and the sample attains equilibrium, sample weights to correct for biases associated with traditional chain-referral sampling can be calculated. Questionnaires were administered to female participants: 1) raising a child from a SVRP; and/or 2) who had terminated a SVRP. 852 participants were recruited during a 1-month period. There was rapid recruitment and long referral chains. The majority of the variables reached equilibrium and thus, trends established in the sample population were reflective of the target population’s trends. This is the first study to utilize RDS to study outcomes of sexual violence. RDS was successfully applied to this population and context. RDS should be considered as a sampling methodology in future sexual violence research.

KEYWORDS: Democratic Republic of Congo, Gender based violence, Respondent-driven sampling, Sexual violence, Sexual violence related pregnancy

AUTHORS: Ashley Greiner, Katherine Albutt, Shada Rouhani, Jennifer Scott, Kirk Dombrowski, Susan Bartels

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