Gaining access to stigmatized populations using qualitative sampling requires the application of carefully planned strategies to avoid inadvertent slights to research participants. While there is a growing body of literature on qualitative sampling strategies, there is less discussion on how to manage the sensitivities of stigmatized research participants, such as African American females with incarcerated mates. This paper provides insight into how successful recruitment strategies, aligned with best practices described as checkpoints, enabled this researcher to gain access to a sample of 20 African American women who experienced grief and loss, and social withdrawal as a result of their mate’s incarceration. Women in the study revealed their need to mask their emotions and hide their circumstances, mainly because of the social stigma associated with incarceration. Successful strategies were used to recruit the sample, including: implementing a transparent process, offering flexible interview logistics, acknowledging and managing microaggressions; refraining from claiming insider status, and maintaining access to the sample through ethical mindfulness.
African American Women, Incarceration, Inmate Wives, Recruitment Strategies, Qualitative Sampling
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Recommended APA Citation
Hart-Johnson, A. M. (2017). Gaining Access to Socially Stigmatized Samples. The Qualitative Report, 22(6), 1550-1564. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2017.2180