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A Church-Based Sampling Design for Research with Latina Immigrant Women


Wasserman, Melanie R.; Bender, Deborah E.; Kalsbeek, William D.; Suchindran, Chirayath M.; & Mouw, Ted (2005). A Church-Based Sampling Design for Research with Latina Immigrant Women. Population Research and Policy Review, 24(6), 647-671.


The U.S. is experiencing its highest immigration rate since the 1930s. The largest proportion of immigrants comes from Latin America, and women constitute a large and growing fraction of this group. Although our knowledge of the relationship between migration and women’s health is increasing, research in this area is still needed, particularly in areas experiencing rapid changes in their Latino populations. Yet research is impeded by the absence of an adequate sampling frame: Latina immigrants remain a largely hidden population. This study tests in four North Carolina counties a church-based sampling frame for Latina immigrant women in their reproductive years. In the study area, on an average week, 20% of the Spanish-speaking population attends church (two-thirds are Catholic). Compared against Census data for the study area, the study sample (n = 706) provided a comparable representation of different national origins. New entrants to the U.S. and married women were overrepresented in the church-based sample. The young (under age 30), and women at the lowest and highest extremes of educational attainment were underrepresented in churches. While a church-based sample is not entirely comparable to the Census, churches can provide timely and cost-effective access to a rapidly changing population of new immigrants. Church-based research should be complemented with research in other settings, adjusting sampling weights for overlap between sampling frames.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Population Research and Policy Review


Wasserman, Melanie R.
Bender, Deborah E.
Kalsbeek, William D.
Suchindran, Chirayath M.
Mouw, Ted