Following the expansion of the European Union, there has been a large influx of Central and East European (CEE) migrants to the UK. CEE men who have sex with men (MSM) represent a small minority within this population that are none-the-less important to capture in sexual health research among the CEE migrant community. This paper examines the feasibility of recruiting CEE MSM for a survey of sexual behaviour in London using respondent driven sampling (RDS), via gay websites and in GUM clinics.
We sought CEE MSM to start RDS chain referral among GUM clinic attendees, our personal contacts and at gay events and venues in central London. We recruited CEE MSM (n=485) via two popular websites for gay men in Britain (March-May 2009) and at two central London GUM clinics (n=51) (July 2008-March 2009).
We found seventeen men who knew other CEE MSM in London and agreed to recruit contacts into the study. These men recruited only three men into the study, none of whom recruited any further respondents, and RDS was abandoned after 7 months (July 2008-January 2009). Half of the men that we approached to participate in RDS did not know any other CEE MSM in London. Men who agreed to recruit contacts for RDS were rather more likely to have been in the UK for more than one year (94.1% vs 70.0%, p=0.052). Men recruited through gay websites and from GUM clinics were similar.
The Internet was the most successful method for collecting data on sexual risk behaviour among CEE MSM in London. CEE MSM in London were not well networked. RDS may also have failed because they did not fully understand the procedure and/or the financial incentive was not sufficient motivation to take part.