Sampling in Difficult to Access Refugee and Immigrant Communities

Marline Spring, Joseph Westermeyer, Linda Halcon, Kay Savik, Cheryl Robertson, David R. Johnson, James N. Butcher, James Jaranson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


We evaluated sampling strategies and trust-building activities in a large multiphase epidemiologic study of torture prevalence in populations that were difficult to locate and enroll. Refugee groups under study were Somalis from Somalia and Oromos from Ethiopia who were living in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1999-2002. Without a complete sampling frame from which to randomly recruit participants, we employed purposive sampling methods. Through comparative and statistical analyses, we found no apparent differences between our sample and the underlying population and discovered no effects of recruiting methods on study outcomes, suggesting that the sample could be analyzed with confidence. Ethnographic trust and rapport-building activities among investigators, field staff, and immigrant communities made it possible to obtain the sample and gather sensitive data. Maintaining a culture of trust was crucial in recovering from damaging environmental events that threatened data collection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)813-819
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2003


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