Sampling small populations

The sampling methods just mentioned are standard procedures to adopt when sampling populations that occur reasonably often. Sometimes, however, the population sought is not that easy to find. Special sampling methods may be required in these cases. A good illustration is to be found by a researcher who is interested in ascertaining attitudes and other information about prescription drug brands used by only a very small number of patients. There are likely to be few of them and, without special sampling methods, it will be too difficult and expensive to study them.

There are six techniques that can be applied in such a case:

1 direct screening

2 two-phase screening

3 stratification

4 multiframe sampling

5 selection of high-yield clusters

6 multiplicity sampling (also known as 'snowballing').

There is also a seventh approach that could involve using data from an existing database.

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