Respondent-Driven Sampling and Analysis (RDS)

This course provide participants with the practical and theoretical knowledge necessary to be able to use RDS methods. 

When is the next course?

Browse the Course Calender to find out when the next course is scheduled


- Although we normally offer this course once a year only, we can arrange the course at your institution upon request. 

Charlotte Nordström, NAKMI Course Coordinator


Respondent-driven sampling (RDS) is a recently developed method used to sample hidden and hard-to-reach populations such as people who inject drugs, sex workers, and men who have sex with men.

With this sampling method, a small number of “seed” respondents are selected by convenience sampling or other methods. Then, these initial recruits are given coupons (typically, 3 coupons) to recruit others from the target population, who in turn become recruiters. Recruits are given an incentive (usually cash) for taking part in the survey and then for recruiting others. This process continues in recruitment “waves” until a pre-determined sample size is reached, or until the distribution of participant characteristics (such as the proportion infected) becomes similar between waves. A weighted analysis is then applied to account for the non-random sample selection in an attempt to generate unbiased estimates for the target population.

Since its development in the late 1990s, several estimators have been developed and were available first in RDS Analysis Tool (RDSAT) and recently in RDS Analyst (RDS-A) package. Using RDS-A has another advantage of providing an estimate of the size of the target population with no additional cost. All these benefits of RDS method could be achieved with careful design, implementation and proper analysis.

Target groups

Researchers and PhD, particularly researchers doing projects involving hard-to-reach populations.

Learning objectives

This course aims to provide participants with practical skills and theoretical knowledge to implement and analysis the data from an RDS population-based survey. After the course, participants will become familiar with the method, and should be able to create a basic design of an RDS bio-behavioural survey, manage the data and conduct the basic analysis using RDS-A package.

Key topics

The course provides the theories, assumptions and requirements required to use RDS in a variety of field settings. Course facilitators describe all the steps involved in organising and implementing an RDS survey. Following topics are covered:

  • Formative and pre-survey assessments
  • Seeds selection
  • Overview of RDS site staffing and site assignments
  • Primary and secondary incentives
  • Screening participants for eligibility
  • Staff roles and responsibilities
  • HIV and STI counselling and testing
  • RDS data and coupon management
  • Data flow and quality
  • Analysis data RDS-A
  • Population size estimation in RDS-A
  • RDS Diagnostics; Assumptions review and reproducibility checking
  • RDS implementation advantages and challenges

Teaching Methods

Throughout the workshop we focus on methods, concepts, applications and the statistical package on how to implement an RDS study and do the proper analysis rather than the formulas. The course consists of lectures, exercises and presentations. Participants are supposed to be actively involved in all parts of the course and study the key papers as homework.

Target Audience

Epidemiologists, social scientists, public health professionals, post-graduate students in related fields


The course takes place over five consecutive days.


National Center for Minority Health Research, Oslo, Norway (NAKMI)

Payment, registration, programme

Find information on this couse in the Course Calendar announcement


  • Regional Knowledge Hub, WHO Collaborating Centre for HIV Surveillance, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran
  • Global Health Sciences, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco


  • Ela Czapka, PhD, National Center for Minority Health Research (NAKMI), Oslo, Norway
  • Ali Akbar Haghdoost, Director - Regional Knowledge Hub, WHO Collaborating Centre for HIV Surveillance, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran
  • Ali Mirzazadeh, MD, MPH, PhD. Global Health Sciences, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco, USA

More information?

About this page

This course description was published for the first time on March 14th, 2016. The content on this page is valid unless otherwise stated. Last time this page was checked: March 14th, 2016

Publisert 14. mars 2016 16:45 - Sist endret 16. jan. 2017 11:09