The Vanderbilt University Social Networks, Aging, and Policy Study, or "VUSNAPS" seeks to to understand health, aging, and the relationships that older lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming adults in the US South draw on for support. Unlike some other studies, VUSNAPS is comprised entirely of LGBTQ+ people to better understand our own communities and more fully represent differences in experience, health, and aging trajectories across our many identities and life trajectories.
With the information from VUSNAPS participants, we aim to better identify the sources of stress and resilience for LGBTQ+ people in the South, and the ways that members of our community thrive, connect to others, and respond to life events.
Participants responses have already helped us understand more about the aging experiences of LGBTQ+ adults in the US South. Check out some of the findings from Wave 1 below. We’ve also used the information that participants provided to help state and local governments and community organizations better serve the needs of people in the study during the COVID pandemic.
This study is being conducted by and for our community with the support of Vanderbilt University and the National Institutes of Health. It has been approved by the Vanderbilt University Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects Research.
We completed enrollment for the study in September 2021. Invitations for enrolled participants to participate in the Wave 2 follow-up survey will be sent via email 12 to 18 months after completion of your first survey, beginning in December 2021.
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We are excited to be expanding the study to learn more about how the aging experiences you told us about relate to biological age – that is, how your cells are aging.
This study is separate from the VUSNAPS survey and is called the VUSNAPS BioAge study.
If you do not want to participate in the BioAge study, you do not have to. You will stay enrolled in VUSNAPS even if you do not want to participate in the VUSNAPS BioAge study.
We are hoping that you will be interested in participating in this additional study.
Over the next few months, we will be providing all current participants with additional information and a sample collection kit via mail.
All that you have to do to participate is collect two (2) cheek swabs, complete a short online survey (5 minutes or less) and return the samples in the pre-paid mailer included in the included with the sample collection kit. The sample collection kit includes instructions for how to provide a cheek swab, return mailing materials, as well as a link to our BioAge survey.
As a thank you for your participation, you will receive a $20 payment.
As with the VUSNAPS main study, all of your information is confidential. On the survey form, you will have the opportunity to indicate your preferences for how we use your BioAge sample if you decide to participate.
All current VUSNAPS participants are eligible to participate in the BioAge study.
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This study is separate from the VUSNAPS survey and is called the VUSNAPS Tasso Biomarker study. This is a pilot study to assess acceptability of a new method of self-collection of blood samples at home. Blood samples still provide some of the best markers of health and aging that researchers can study.
Over the next few months, we will be providing about 150 VUSNAPS participants with additional information and a sample collection kit via mail. We are hoping that you will be interested in participating in this additional study.
Individuals who choose to participate will collect a one-time, needle-free, self-administered blood sample using a Tasso button, which you will wear on your arm for 15 minutes and return the samples in the pre-paid mailer included in the included with the sample collection kit. The sample collection kit includes instructions for how to use the Tasso button and return mailing materials.
As a thank you for your participation, you will receive $50 and the results of a COVID antibody test performed using the sample.
If you are a current VUSNAPS participant and you do not want to participate in this additional study, you do not have to. You will stay enrolled in VUSNAPS even if you do not want to participate in the VUSNAPS Tasso Biomarker study.
As with the VUSNAPS main study, all of your information is confidential. On the survey form, you will have the opportunity to indicate your preferences for how we use your Tasso sample if you decide to participate.
Most current VUSNAPS participants are eligible to participate in the Tasso Biomarker study.
Need Help? Send us an email!
We are excited to share with you how we have been using the information provided by participants. Check out our Wave 1 Community Research Summary with an update on all current work related to VUSNAPS!
A talk by Dr. Tara McKay on the state of the research as of October 2020 on LGBTQ health during the COVID-19 pandemic in the US and internationally.
COVERAGE from May 15, 2020: District 8 Councilmember Nancy VanReece hosts this virtual meeting discussing "LGBTQ Health in the Age of COVID-19"
Since April 1, 2020, we have been collecting information on how older LGBT adults in the South are being affected by the coronavirus pandemic. As of May 4, 2020, we are still actively recruiting, but we are able to share some insights about how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting older LGBT people in Tennessee. See our RESEARCH BRIEF on Covid-19 and Older LGBT Tennesseans.
In another study, we collected data on the effects of Covid-19 on LGBTQ Americans of all ages in the US. See our RESEARCH BRIEF on the effects of Covid-19 on job and wage loss, health concerns, and other impacts among our communities.
The purpose of VUSNAPS is to understand the different kinds of personal relationships that older lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender nonconforming and nonbinary adults in the US South draw on to provide support in mid- and later-life. We will use these data to examine how life events affect those relationships and the health of older LGBTQ people. We are interested in identifying factors that exacerbate health inequalities and those that help older LGBTQ adults thrive in later life.
Have questions about the study design, research materials, or data availability?
Director, Vanderbilt LGBT Policy Lab
University of Texas, Austin
Center for Medicine, Health, and Society
Assistant Professor, Political Science
Assistant Professor, Political Science
Graduate Student Researcher
This study is funded by a grant from the National Institute on Aging. The BioAge project has also received support from the Vanderbilt LGBT Policy Lab, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Texas, Austin.
For more information about the study or to see if you are eligible to participate, please click the link above or call 615-343-2631 or, toll free, 1-877-932-0614.
For current participants with questions about the survey or compensation, please call toll free 1-877-932-0614.
Nashville, Tennessee, United States