Frequently Asked questions

Below are common Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) regarding The THRIVE Study.

I’m under the age of 18, will my parents know about my involvement in the study?

No. As part of the study, you will sign a “Waiver of Parental Assent,” meaning that we do not have to ask for your parent’s permission to participate, and that we will not disclose any of your information to your parents or anyone outside of the study staff.

If I am on a form of birth control, does that affect my eligibility?

No, if you are taking a form of birth control, this will not affect your eligibility into the study. With that said, you will be asked for the specific forms of birth control used during each study visit.

What do you mean by “sexual assault”?

We recognize that there are many different forms of sexual assault. For this study, we are looking for women who have experienced forced vaginal penetration by a man via a penis, fingers, or other objects. 

Is this a study of women who are living with HIV?

No, this is not a study about women who are living with HIV. We are looking for women who are sexually active within the past week or have experienced sexual assault within the past week, who are between the ages of 14 and 45, and who live in the San Diego area.

If I’m trans, can I participate in the study?

If you are a trans man who has not undergone any transition activities, including hormone replacement therapy (HRT), then you can participant in the study. Unfortunately, we cannot include trans women or trans men who have begun their biological transition at this time.

What are the potential risks of the research study?

The risks of the study are rather minimal. Potential risks to the human participants of the study may include:

  • Emotional discomfort in answering questions regarding current and past sexual behavior and/or sexual assault.
  • Emotional discomfort in answering questions regarding history of sexual health and diagnoses of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). 
  • Emotional distress resulting from potential results from STD, HIV, and pregnancy testing.
  • Physical discomfort during the study visit blood draws, vital signs, and vaginal exams.
  • We take every precaution to protect participant confidentiality and privacy. With that said, there is the possibility of volunteer’s participation unintentionally being identified as a participant by a third party, though it is unlikely.

When are study visits typically scheduled?

Study visits are typically scheduled Monday through Friday with the first visit starting at 7:00am and the last visit starting at 2:00pm each day.

What is included in each study visit?

In each study visit, you will take a pregnancy test, complete a survey about your life and experiences, have a small amount of blood taken for HIV and STI tests, and have a vaginal exam. After the visit you will also collect saliva samples for three days.

Are study visits confidential?

Yes, all study visits are confidential. No information regarding your visit will be shared outside of the study staff, and all of your information and study data will be stored securely.

How many study visits are there, and how long do they last?

There are three study visits. The first study visit will last about 2 hours, and the second and third will last about an hour and a half, each. There is also a saliva sample collection portion to the study, which will take about 15 minutes a day for three days after each visit.

What is included in the saliva sampling?

For three days after each of your study visits, we ask that you fill three small tubes with saliva. The first is immediately when you wake up, then 30 minutes after you wake up, and finally 45 minutes after you wake up. We will give you a tool to help you to drool or move saliva into the tube. Then you will freeze the samples immediately. We will arrange to pick up the samples after your third day of collection.

Are each study visit flexible on the exact dates/times I could come in?

The first study visit will be scheduled shortly after you are informed that you are eligible for the study. There are two follow-up study visits: 1 month and 3 months following the first study visit. Yet, the exact date/time will be flexible to each volunteer’s schedule and time preference. 

Why do I need to collect saliva samples?

The saliva samples help us to understand how your body reacts to stress. We look at a biological marker called cortisol, which is most present in your body in the morning right after you wake up. Because of this, we ask you to take samples for three days in the morning after each visit.

Why do you need to do a vaginal exam?

The vaginal exam helps us to understand how activity in the vagina changes your stress response and immune system. Using the small about of liquid we wash the vaginal wall with, we can look at cells and immune markers to assess this change.

What is included in a vaginal exam?

The vaginal exams includes a visual inspection of the vagina and labia, the use of a small speculum to open the vaginal canal, and the rinsing of the vaginal canal with saline.

Who will perform the vaginal/cervical exam during the study visits?

The vaginal/cervical exam will be performed by an UCSD female physician with a specialty in Internal Medicine, who performs vaginal/cervical as part of her regular practice.

I screened ineligible, is it possible I could be eligible at another time?

Yes. Some of the criteria that we judge eligibility based on may change over time. Feel free to take the survey again if your answers change at a later time.

What are the benefits of participating in The THRIVE Study?

As part of your participation you will received up to $255 total in monetary compensation, plus help with transportation if you need it, free pregnancy, STI, and HIV testing, and resources and referrals to services if you want them. Additionally, you get to be a part of research that aims to improve women’s health, and protect them after experiencing sexual assault.

Does UC San Diego provide a shuttle from La Jolla to Hillcrest that could be used for the study visits?

Yes, UC San Diego provides Medical Center Shuttles between La Jolla and Hillcrest. For more information, please see the following links. 

General information on the Medical Center Shuttle: https://transportation.ucsd.edu/shuttles/hillcrest.html

Live map for the location of the Medical Center Shuttle: https://ucsdbus.com/map

Link to check live estimated arrival times: https://ucsdbus.com/arrivals


Where can I cash my study compensation for payment?

The study compensation may be cashed at Wells Fargo Bank locations. Visit the following link for the Wells Fargo Bank locations nearest to the study location: THRIVE Study Wells Fargo Bank Locations.

Together we can THRIVE!