1. Is this a remote study?
Yes, all components of the study can be completed remotely; there will be no in-person contact. All communications will be conducted via email, phone, or online video conferencing. Equipment and supplies will be mailed to you, and we will arrange for a mail courier to pick up the equipment and your saliva samples (e.g., left outside your door) at the end of your data collection.
2. What are the potential risks of participating in this study?
The surveys will include questions about your thoughts, feelings, activities, and life experiences that have no right or wrong answers to them. Some questions are personal and might cause discomfort. You can refuse to answer any questions that you do not want to answer. The sleep watch and physical activity monitor may cause minor discomfort (e.g., skin irritation or itchiness); they can be adjusted to reduce discomfort. You will also be responsible for taking good care of the equipment that we lend you and for returning them undamaged.
3. What are the potential benefits of participating in this study?
There may or may not be direct benefits to you from taking part in this study. You might gain insights about yourself and your day-to-day behaviours by participating in this study. You can also choose to receive reports of your sleep and physical activity, which will enable you to observe changes or stability in these health behaviours across 3 annual assessments. You might also enjoy the knowledge that you are contributing to information that could be valuable for developing programs aimed at health promotion or stress management.
4. How will my personal information and data be kept private and secure?
Your personal information will be stored separately from your responses to the surveys and your health data. The survey and health data will be identified by a unique participant number that will not include any personal information that could identify you (i.e., it will not include your name, initials, birthdate, etc.). Only the Principal Investigator and/or designate will have access to a list that matches your name to the unique participant number. The electronic data and computers will be encrypted and password-protected. Paper files will be stored in locked filing cabinets in the locked laboratory or in the Principal Investigator’s locked office. In the event of any publications or presentations resulting from the research, no personally identifiable information will be shared because your name is in no way linked to your survey responses.
5. How will my physical health be measured during the online sessions?
During both online sessions, we will ask you a few questions about your medical history and health. In addition, we will ask you for basic physical health measures, such as your height, weight, and waist and hip circumference. You have the right to refuse to participate in any portion of the study that you do not want to complete.
6. Am I able to receive communications about the study results?
Yes, we will provide information about our findings. Participants can choose to be added to our lab’s mailing list to receive newsletters with updates about the study and research findings.
7. Will this research study increase my risk for COVID-19 infection? How will risks be minimized?
The risk for COVID-19 infection is minimal and is no greater than the risk encountered in day to day life. All study components are will be conducted remotely, with no in-person contact. The equipment will be thoroughly sanitized before being mailed to participants and after each participant’s use. You can set aside the package for 24 hours or longer before opening it to further decrease risk of infection.
FAQ for home saliva collection using Salivettes
1. What are you testing my saliva for?
Your saliva can reveal patterns of stress-related hormones in daily life. We are primarily interested in testing your saliva for cortisol (a “stress hormone” and marker of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal activation) and alpha-amylase (a hormone that indicates activation of the sympathetic-adrenal-medullary axis, also known as the “fight-or-flight” response). We are exclusively looking for these hormones, and we do not analyze your saliva for any other substances (e.g., drugs).
Both hormones are related to stressful experiences. These hormones naturally fluctuate across the day, so it is important that we capture your levels of these hormones when you first wake up, 30 minutes after waking, and before you go to sleep.
2. Is it important for me to write down the exact time I provided the saliva sample?
Yes, it is very important to write down the exact time you provided the saliva sample. The hormones we are interested in examining follow particular patterns throughout the day and it is very important that we know the exact time the sample was provided.
3. Can I eat or drink before taking my saliva sample?
Please do not use any tobacco or cannabis products or consume any caffeinated products (coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, etc.) or brush your teeth 30 minutes before taking your samples. These actions have been shown to alter the detection of hormones in saliva samples.
4. What do I do if I forget to take a sample?
Because hormone levels fluctuate across the day, please try your best to collect all the samples. The timing is especially important in the morning, when people typically show a rapid increase in cortisol just after getting out of bed. But don’t worry if you missed a sample: just take the sample as soon as you remember, and be sure to write down the exact time that you collected your saliva.
5. Will I get penalized or lose money if I don’t collect all the samples?
You will not be penalized if you do not collect all the samples. Honesty is important to us. Let us know on your tracking sheet if a tube has not been used. It costs money to analyze each tube, so we will not analyze the sample if we know that the tube is empty.
6. What do I do if I have lost my kit or some of my salivette tubes?
If you lose your saliva collection kit or any of the salivettes, please call us at (604) 827-2241 or send us an email (email@example.com). We might be able to provide you with a replacement.
7. What if I do not have access to a refrigerator or freezer for my samples?
Please try to freeze the samples as soon as you have access to a freezer. If you do not have access to a freezer, please store them in a refrigerator or another cool place.
8. Will I get the results of my home saliva samples?
Unfortunately, we will not be sharing your personal saliva results with you. Cortisol and alpha-amylase are useful for research on stress and health, but these are not commonly used in clinical settings for healthcare. There are no established clinical guidelines for patients to interpret their levels of these hormones. For that reason, we do not give participants the results of the cortisol and alpha amylase levels. If you are concerned about your hormones, then we recommend that you speak with your doctor. Your doctor can order tests that will be appropriate for you.