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Using Internet-based Surveys to Reach Hidden Populations: Case of Nonabusive Illicit Drug Users

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Objective: To examine the potential of surveys delivered via the World Wide Web (WWW) as a method for reaching hidden populations such as that of nonabusive users of illicit drugs. Methods: Past and current approaches to collecting data from hidden populations were reviewed. Results: A number of approaches have been used in the past efforts to reach drug users but the use of the WWW has produced the largest sample of successful illicit drug users ever surveyed. Conclusion: Further application of this approach (WWW) is recommended when hidden populations are surveyed.

Keywords: Internet; drug use; hidden population; survey

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Medical Science, Brown University, Providence, RI. 2: Department of Public Health, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY.

Publication date: May 1, 2003

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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