Francophones who live outside the primarily French-speaking province of Quebec, Canada, risk being excluded from research by lack of a sampling frame. We examined the adequacy of random sampling, advertising, and respondent-driven sampling for recruitment of francophones for survey research.
We recruited francophones residing in the city of Calgary, Alberta, through advertising and respondentdriven sampling. These 2 samples were then compared with a random subsample of Calgary francophones derived from the 2006 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS). We assessed the effectiveness of advertising and respondent-driven sampling in relation to the CCHS sample by comparing demographic characteristics and selected items from the CCHS (specifically self-reported general health status, perceived weight, and having a family doctor).
We recruited 120 francophones through advertising and 145 through respondent-driven sampling; the random sample from the CCHS consisted of 259 records. The samples derived from advertising and respondentdriven sampling differed from the CCHS in terms of age (mean ages 41.0, 37.6, and 42.5 years, respectively), sex (proportion of males 26.1%, 40.6%, and 56.6%, respectively), education (college or higher 86.7% , 77.9% , and 59.1%, respectively), place of birth (immigrants accounting for 45.8%, 55.2%, and 3.7%, respectively), and not having a regular medical doctor (16.7%, 34.5%, and 16.6%, respectively). Differences were not tested statistically because of limitations on the analysis of CCHS data imposed by Statistics Canada.
The samples generated exclusively through advertising and respondent-driven sampling were not representative of the gold standard sample from the CCHS. Use of such biased samples for research studies could generate misleading results.