About the Study

Why Is This Study Important?

Some population groups have much better health than others. Part of this difference comes from differences in health care, nutrition, and exercise. However, when these are made equal, large differences remain—differences that involve great individual suffering and dramatic social and economic costs.

Findings from this study may very well contribute to improving the health of future generations, reducing both suffering and the immense social and economic costs of poor health.

This study examines:

  • the effects of various forms of social stress on physical health, emotional well-being, and substance use problems
  • factors that increase and those that decrease ability to cope with social stress
  • variations in such factors and in stress effects across the life course and among subgroups of the population

Who Will Participate?

We will study a randomly drawn sample of 1,600 adults between the ages of 25 and 65. Information given by each participant will represent thousands of individuals who are similar to the participant.

How Is the Study Being Done?

Using scientific sampling procedures we screened 5,000 households to obtain a listing of approximately 7,000 adults who represent the Nashville area population. The 1,600 individuals invited to participate in the study were then randomly drawn from among the 7,000.

Letters are sent to those randomly selected individuals explaining the study in more detail.
Telephone calls are used to invite participation and make an appointment for a completely confidential interview in the participant’s home or at another location of his or her choice.

At the conclusion of the two-hour interview, participants receive $50 as a token of appreciation. They are also given a urine sample container and are asked to use that during the evening and overnight.

Early the next morning a nurse will visit the participant’s home, collect the urine sample and a blood sample, and take the participant’s blood pressure three times.

At the end of this process participants will receive a second $50 as an additional token of appreciation.

What Kind of Questions Will Be Asked?

Questions on:

  • physical health and well-being
  • recent and lifetime experience of stressful events and circumstances
  • sources of strength and support
  • relationships with important others including spouse, family, and friends
  • mental health and substance use problems culture and ethnicity

Participation is voluntary and all answers are completely confidential. Not even the research staff will have any awareness of whose answers are being processed. The listing that links answers to participants is retained by the principal investigator, R. Jay Turner, Ph.D., in a locked file. A certificate of confidentiality has been obtained from the federal government that assures that study data cannot be subpoenaed even by law enforcement officials.

If additional funding is secured in the future, participants will be asked to repeat this research process a second time three or more years later.


The Stress and Health Study is a Center for Research on Health Disparities Project supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research (OBSSR)