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Sampling in epidemiological research: issues, hazards and pitfalls

  • Stephen Tyrer (a1) and Bob Heyman (a2)
Summary

Surveys of people's opinions are fraught with difficulties. It is easier to obtain information from those who respond to text messages or to emails than to attempt to obtain a representative sample. Samples of the population that are selected non-randomly in this way are termed convenience samples as they are easy to recruit. This introduces a sampling bias. Such non-probability samples have merit in many situations, but an epidemiological enquiry is of little value unless a random sample is obtained. If a sufficient number of those selected actually complete a survey, the results are likely to be representative of the population. This editorial describes probability and non-probability sampling methods and illustrates the difficulties and suggested solutions in performing accurate epidemiological research.

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Copyright
This is an open-access article published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Correspondence to Stephen Tyrer (stephen.tyrer@ncl.ac.uk)
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes
References
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 2056-4694
  • EISSN: 2056-4708
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Sampling in epidemiological research: issues, hazards and pitfalls

  • Stephen Tyrer (a1) and Bob Heyman (a2)
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