COVID 19 and Interests Survey

Questions marked with a * are required
Principal Investigator’s Contact Information: jason-steadman@utc.edupatricia-lin-steadman@utc.edu
Organization of Principal Investigators:  University of Tennessee - Chattanooga

The Institutional Review Board of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (FWA00004149) has approved this research project # 21-060. 

This page will explain about being a participant in a research study. It is important that you read this material carefully and then decide if you wish to voluntarily participate.

To be a part of this study, you must be at least age 12 and in grades 6 through 16 (college senior). If you are under 18, please have a parent or legal guardian read through this page to help decide if it is okay for you to participate.

A.     Purpose:  COVID-19 has had significant effects on life in the U.S. and around the world. One effect is that people are not able to do as many things, including leisure activities and social hobbies, as much as they used to. The purpose of this study is to explore how COVID-19, social distancing, and other changes over the last year related to COVID 19 have impacted the hobbies and interests of middle school, high-school, and college students. We think that students will have fewer hobbies than they had before the pandemic, and we think this may have also caused students to lose interest in things they used to enjoy. So, this study is meant to test if our thoughts are true.

We also think that people who have not been able to find other interests to fill their time during the pandemic are more likely to have certain emotions during the pandemic. So, another purpose of the study is to see if changes in interests can be linked to changes in emotions.

The major goal of our study is to find out what we can offer students during a pandemic to help them keep up hobbies and interests, and, in turn, prevent unwanted changes to mood.

B.     Duration:  You can complete this study completely online, in about 20-30 minutes. We aim to get about 350 participants. We will keep this study online until January 2022 or until we get 350 participants, whichever comes first. You can complete the survey all at once in one session, or you can split it up over time. To be sure your data are included though, you’ll need to submit the survey before the deadline. If more than 350 people complete the survey before we close the survey online, we will still include the extra participants. Thus, you can take this survey as long as it is active online, and your data will still be included.

C.     Procedures: In this study, you will complete an online questionnaire. During the questionnaire, we won’t collect any information that identifies you. So, your data will be anonymous, and no one who reviews the data will be able to link your information back to you. You will take the survey through QuestionPro software licensed through the University of Tennessee – Chattanooga (UTC). The questionnaire has a few different sections. One section gets some basic demographics, like your age, grade, and gender. Another section asks about your household and how COVID-19 has affected your household. If you are a minor, you will be asked to get a parent to help with that section, because it will ask about household income and different types of tests used for COVID-19, about which parents may have more information than you. In the third section, you will answer some questions about your emotions at different time periods during the pandemic. In the fourth and final section, you will rate your interests in 80 different hobbies, and how often you did those hobbies before the pandemic and how often you do them now.

You can complete the questionnaire anywhere you like. You only need some way to connect to the internet. The questions do ask a few private questions like whether or not you or people in your family have ever been diagnosed with COVID. We also ask about your emotions, which some people consider to be private. Because your data are anonymous, there will be no way to connect this private information back to you once you submit the data in our system. So, you can answer these questions honestly without having to worry if anyone else will know it was you.

However, you might consider using a private computer on a private connection if you want to have more privacy and want to protect your data from being intercepted on the internet. Although we do a lot to protect your privacy and confidentiality, there is always a risk when using the internet that some of your data can be accessed by someone who isn’t supposed to have it. So, we suggest you use a computer that you know is well-protected from other internet threats.

We do not anticipate any circumstances where we would have to remove you from the study without your consent. If you do not complete all portions of the survey though, we won’t be able to use your data, and so we wouldn’t include your data in the findings in that case. To be sure your data are included, you should complete the entire survey, until you reach the “Thank you” page telling you the survey is done.

You can quit the study at any time just by stopping the survey and closing the window. Once you have submitted your data, though, you would not be able to have your data removed from the study. Because your data are anonymous, we wouldn’t have any way of knowing which responses are yours. So, even if you called us and told us you no longer wanted to be in the study, we couldn’t remove your data. If you aren’t sure you want to be part of this study, we recommend you opt out and not start the survey. If you change your mind and decide you do want to participate, you can always come back, as long as the survey is still open.

D.     Alternative Procedures/Treatments:  If you are a college student seeking extra credit in return for participating in this survey, you should know that there are other ways you can get extra credit. We suggest asking your professor(s) about alternatives if for any reason you are hesitant to complete the current survey.

Other than extra credit for college students, there are no direct benefits to you in return for participating in this study. Thus, if you do not participate, there are no differences in what will happen to you, compared to those who do participate.

E.     Possible Risks/Discomforts:  The overall risks of this study are minimal. We anticipate the risks of participating in this study to be equal to that of everyday internet use. As is true anytime you use the internet, no one can completely guarantee your data can never be accessed by someone else on the same internet connection. We have taken special precautions to maximize your security by using industry standard encryption and data protection software. Furthermore, again, because our data are anonymous, participating in our study doesn’t increase your risk of a breach of internet security.

The survey does take time to complete, so you should be prepared to spend 20-30 minutes on the questionnaire. Some of the questions can cause very mild discomfort, but are not different than typical questions that may be asked by a healthcare provider about your symptoms or your mood. Parents will not need to be present throughout the entire survey. They complete only a small portion, and only for minors (college students will not usually need a parents’ input). After parents complete their part of the survey, they will be able to leave so you can answer the rest of the questions in private. Some of the questions do ask about depression and other signs that your emotions may be leaning toward a negative direction. If you’re uncomfortable answering these questions, you can choose not to participate in the study. However, as stated above, your data would not be included in final results in that case.

We will also suggest some resources for you to get help with your emotions in case they are leaning negative. If you are a minor and you want to get help for your negative emotions, you can tell a parent or other adult about wanting help. We recommend saying something like this: “I was taking this survey, and I realized that everything that’s been happening has affected me more than I thought. I think I would like to see someone to get help with that.” During the survey, we will also give you some information about where you may find people who can help you. We understand that for some people it can be awkward to ask your parents or another adult for help, but if you feel like you need it, it usually better to ask than it is to keep it to yourself.

F.     Possible Benefits:  Many participants will not receive any direct benefit from this research. Students enrolled at UTC or ETSU and taking classes that offer extra credit for research participation through SONA may receive 1.0 SONA credits for participating in this study. To receive this credit, you must access the survey through the your college's SONA system and must identify yourself with your SONA ID there. Your SONA ID will not be connected to any research data, though. We collect it only so we can report your extra credit to the SONA administrator at UTC or ETSU. You are welcome to take the survey without requesting credits. As stated above, you can also seek similar extra credit without participating in any research. This study is not the only way to get extra credit.

By participating in this study, you do contribute to the possibility that data can be used to improve resources during the current and any future pandemics. We can learn from the results of this study types of activities and interests that tend to minimize negative mood effects, and then we can encourage people to consider these activities as a way to fight off depressive or anxious symptoms.

G.     Voluntary Participation:  Your participation in this research experiment is voluntary.  You may choose not to participate.  If you decide to participate in this research study you can change your mind and quit at any time.  If you choose not to participate, or change your mind and quit, the benefits or treatment to which you are otherwise entitled will not be affected.  You may quit by ending the survey. As stated previously though, once you complete the survey, you cannot remove your data, due to the fact that data are anonymous and there is no way to know which data are yours.   

H.     Contact for Questions:  If you have any questions, problems, or research-related medical problems at any time, you may call Dr. Jason Steadman, whose phone number is 423-825-4040, or Dr. Patricia Lin-Steadman, whose phone number is 423-425-5936. If you have any questions about your rights as a participant in this research, or if you feel you have been placed at risk, you may contact Dr. Susan Davidson, Chair of the UTC Institutional Review Board at (423) 425-5568.  This research protocol has been approved by the UTC Institutional Review Board. Additional contact information is available at www.utc.edu/irb.

I.       Confidentiality:  Because your data are anonymous, they will always be confidential.  A copy of the anonymous records from this study will be stored by Dr. Steadman on an encrypted hard drive for at least 5 years after the end of this research. The University of Tennessee – Chattanooga will also keep a copy of the anonymous records for at least 5 years, as required by law. The results of this study may be published and/or presented at meetings without naming you as a participant.  Although your rights and privacy will be maintained, the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Jason Steadman and Dr. Patricia Lin-Steadman have access to the study records. 

By clicking “I agree” below, I confirm that I have read and understand this Informed Consent Document and that I had the opportunity to have them explained to me verbally. I confirm that I have had the opportunity to ask questions and that all my questions have been answered.  By clicking “agree,” I confirm that I freely and voluntarily choose to take part in this research study.