Investigator: Danielle Dick
Release Date: 6/6/2019
Spit for Science™
Overview: Spit for Science™ is a university-wide research opportunity with the scientific goal of understanding how genetic and environmental factors come together to influence substance use and emotional health across the college years and beyond. To address this goal, we have comprehensively and longitudinally studied eligible incoming freshmen (18 years or older) from a diverse urban university, assessing a wide range of risk and protective factors, including both biological susceptibility and environmental risk, and a variety of outcome measures, particularly alcohol use and other substances, and difficulties with emotional health. Our goal is to assess how risk and protective factors dynamically interact to contribute to behavior health outcomes over time and plan to use findings from the project to inform prevention and intervention efforts and aid in university policy and programming in ways that can support and promote student success.
Methods: In the fall of their freshman year, first-time college students over the age of 18 are invited to complete an online survey containing broad questions about personality and behavior, as well as family, friends, and experiences growing up. Students can also provide a saliva sample and participate in the DNA component of the project (participation in the DNA component is not a requirement for participation in the survey). Each subsequent spring students are asked to complete a follow-up survey, enabling researchers to study patterns of substance use and emotional health across the college years. Since its launch in 2011, the project has enrolled four cohorts (freshman in the fall of 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014), with high participation rates. Approximately 70% of the freshman class has taken part in the project each year for a total N >9800, and about 97% of participants also provide DNA.
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