The Effectiveness of Internet- and Field-Based Methods to Recruit Young Adults Who Use Prescription Opioids Nonmedically

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Quantitative Health Sciences; Commonwealth Medicine, Center for Health Policy and Research

Publication Date


Document Type



Epidemiology | Health Services Research | Substance Abuse and Addiction


BACKGROUND: Nonmedical prescription opioid (NMPO) use is a problem among young adults, yet young NMPO users are a diverse population that has been challenging to engage in overdose prevention and harm reduction programs.

OBJECTIVES: This study compared the effectiveness and characteristics of persons recruited through two different sampling strategies to inform research and intervention efforts with young adult NMPO users.

METHODS: We analyzed data from the Rhode Island Young Adult Prescription Drug Study (RAPiDS), which enrolled persons aged 18 to 29 who reported past 30-day NMPO use. We compared the characteristics of two samples recruited simultaneously between February 2015 and February 2016. One sample was recruited using field-based strategies (e.g., respondent-driven sampling, transit ads), and a second from internet sources (e.g., online classifieds).

RESULTS: Among 198 eligible participants, the median age was 25 (IQR: 22, 27), 130 (65.7%) were male, 123 (63.1%) were white, and 150 (78.1%) resided in urban areas. A total of 79 (39.9%) were recruited using field-based strategies and 119 (60.1%) were recruited from internet sources. Internet-recruited persons were younger (median = 24 [IQR: 21, 27] vs. 26 [IQR: 23, 28] years) and more likely to reside in rural areas (16.2% vs. 5.3%), although this finding was marginally significant. Field-recruited participants were more likely to have been homeless (36.7% vs. 17.7%), have been incarcerated (39.7% vs. 21.8%), and engage in daily NMPO use (34.6% vs. 14.5%).

CONCLUSIONS: Multipronged outreach methods are needed to engage the full spectrum of young adult NMPO users in prevention and harm reduction efforts.


Youth, opioid-related disorders, prescription opioids, sampling, young adults

DOI of Published Version



Subst Use Misuse. 2018 Jan 24:1-12. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2018.1425725. [Epub ahead of print] Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Substance use and misuse

PubMed ID


Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed