Fanteca Project: Student-led study of opiates and overdose in NYC

Backed by Leah Magnuson, Barry Spunt, Kevin Coleman, Popy Begum, John Kleinig, Allison Pease, Chauncey Parker, Edward Snajdr, Roddy Evans, Paul Meissner, and 112 other backers
Raised of $5,000 Goal
Funded on 10/21/17
Successfully Funded
  • $5,158
  • 103%
  • Funded
    on 10/21/17



This study uses a method of recruitment called "Respondent Driven Sampling" or RDS for short. Those who wish to learn more about RDS should visit their website at, but essentially, RDS relies upon social networks that exist between people to recruit a sample, and it pays people in the study to recruit their eligible friends into the study. It works almost like magic.

Using numbered coupons to recruit and keep track of opiate users so that they can remain anonymous, RDS allows the project to recruit "representative samples" of opiate users (though 200+ subjects are a requirement each time a sample is collected), and the analysis of RDS data enables statisticians to make powerful statements about the attributes that they share, and they can even make population estimates.


Our pilot study of 226 opiate users in August 2017 alerted the research team to many of the operational difficulties involved in conducting a study like this, including the establishing eligibility of subjects, controlling the crowd, and handling the data entry in the field. But there are issues to solve. 

For example, given that the project is conducted in public spaces, weather is an issue: because we use cell phones and a laptop to record data, when it rains, it presents problems if the equipment gets wet, to say nothing of what the rain does to recruitment. To overcome this problem, the staff has purchased several tarps that can be attached to trees and lamp posts with bunji cords that will protect subjects, staff and the equipment.

Another potential issue is that since our target population engages in an illegal act -- using non-prescribed opiates, like heroin -- the police might target the location of our study to search for people who have outstanding warrants, or simply to frighten away people who they think might generate community complaints. To overcome this potential problem, the project staff will reach out to the local police to alert them to the fact that we are conducting a short-term study in their area.


This project has not yet shared any protocols.