General FAQs for Participants

Learn more about your role as a participant in this research study by reviewing the questions below.

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What is Operation: SAFETY?

Operation: SAFETY (Soldiers And Families Excelling Through the Years) is a longitudinal research study focusing on examining the health and well-being of US Army Reserve/National Guard Soldiers and their partners. The purpose of this study is to explore how Reserve/Guard Soldiers and their partners impact each others’ physical and mental well-being. The information obtained from this study can be used to help design interventions that improve the physical and mental well-being of Reserve/Guard Soldiers and their families.

Who is funding this study?

This study is being funded through the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Who is conducting this research?

This award was awarded to Gregory Homish, PhD at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Homish is an associate professor in the Department of Community Health and Health Behavior at the School of Public Health and Health Professions.  He also holds appointments in the Departments of Family Medicine and Pediatrics. Homish is trained as a psychiatric epidemiologist and has focused his research on the mental and physical health of couples over time. He has worked with community samples as well as specialized samples such as firefighters, police and military.  

What types of questions are you asking in the Operation: SAFETY study?

Each assessment session will include multiple questionnaires that cover the following topics: deployment status, combat exposure, mental health, physical health, recent life experiences, substance use, medical treatment, your romantic relationship, and your social networks.

How many assessments are there?

Phase 1, you and your partner were asked to complete a total of 3 assessment sessions over the course of 2 years. The first assessment was conducted shortly after agreeing to participate and then assessment sessions were conducted at yearly intervals (year 1 and year 2). 

Phase 2 also consists of a total of 3 assessment sessions over the course of 2 years. Survey 4, 5 and 6 will take place at yearly intervals with Survey 4 assessments starting in March 2019. 

Where do the assessment sessions take place?

We will schedule an appointment for you to come to the State University of New York at Buffalo, South Campus (3435 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14214). The initial assessment took approximately 2-3 hours to complete. Surveys 2-6 will be shorter (about 60-90 minutes). You will be required to provide your own transportation to all questionnaire sessions that take place at one year intervals. No direct reimbursement for transportation costs will be provided; however, you will be compensated for your time (see below).  

In specific instances where you would be unable to come to the State University of New York at Buffalo, you will be asked to complete the questionnaires through a secure web portal. A username will be issued to you at that time. You will create your own password. 

Am I required have the appointment the same day as my partner?

While we would prefer if you come in together to complete the session, it is not required.

How do the assessments work?

If coming to the State University of New York at Buffalo:

  • You and your partner will be in separate rooms to complete the assessment.

You will be asked to complete the questions on a touch-screen computer in a private room. You do NOT need computer experience. A research staff member will teach you how to use the computer. All questions and responses will be entered into the computer to ensure your privacy.  

If completing via the web:

  • Please follow the instructions that are sent to you. You will be provided a link and username. You will create your own password. You can then access the survey and complete it at your convenience. 

How are my responses kept confidential?

The confidentiality of your data is of utmost importance. All researchers involved in this study will be trained in confidentiality prior to starting on the project.  

The information you give us will be stored on password protected computers in password protected files. No identifying information will be included in the questionnaire. Your questionnaire will only include an ID number. Our computer systems have several layers of built-in security procedures to protect your information.  

No military chain of command personnel will have access to your research information. We will also not share any information you provide to us with your partner. Additionally, we have obtained a Certificate of Confidentiality from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This certificate prohibits our disclosure of any research information for any reason.  

Will my partner know what I told you?

No, as described in the answer above, we will not share your responses with anyone, including your partner.

Since you are interested in my health, will you be accessing my military or doctor records?

No, as described in the FAQ on confidentially, we will not tell anyone about your responses.

Will I get paid?

Yes, the compensation levels are:

Phase 1:

  • First computerized assessment (Survey 1): $60 per person ($120 per couple)
  • Second computerized assessment (Survey 2: one year into the study): $70 per person ($140 per couple)
  • Third computerized assessment (Survey 3: two years into the study): $70 per person ($140 per couple)

If you participate in each of the 3 assessments involved in this study, you will be paid a total of $200 per person ($400 per couple). Payment is in the form of a check.

Phase 2: 

  • First computerized assessment (Survey 4): $80 per person ($160 per couple)
  • Second computerized assessment (Survey 5: one year into the study): $90 per person ($180 per couple)
  • Third computerized assessment (Survey 6: two years into the study): $90 per person ($180 per couple)

If you participate in each of the 3 assessments involved in this study, you will be paid a total of $260 per person ($520 per couple). Payment is in the form of a check.

What happens if I leave the US Army Reserve/Guard while enrolled in the study?

As long as you or your partner were an active member in the U.S. Army Reserve/Guard at the time of consenting to the project during Phase 1, then you are still eligible to remain in the study through Phase 2. 

What happens if during the study, I am no longer with the same partner?

Once enrolled in the study, your participation is valued and desired regardless of any possible relationship dissolution.

Do I have to complete every assessment?

In order for our research to be the most successful and for us to address our goals of understanding how reserve/guard soldiers and their partners impact each others’ physical and mental health, we do ask that participants complete all assessments. We know this may seem like a lot, but the assessments are spread out over year intervals. 

What if I don’t want to answer a question?

That’s okay. You do have the right to refuse to answer any question you choose.

What if I no longer wish to participate?

You can decide to end your participation at any point. If you would decide to end your involvement, our project director may call you to find out why. It’s important for us to understand the reasons why someone no longer wishes to participate. We want to make sure you were treated respectfully throughout your time in the study and that if you have concerns or had any type of unforeseen negative experience, that we can address it.

What if I'm already involved in a research study?

That’s great that you are involved in research. Our study isn’t connected with any other and you are eligible to join ours even though you are in another study. We do not share your information with anyone, including other research projects.

What do you do with the results/will my name be released?

All the responses are stored in a database that contains ID numbers. Your name is not stored with your survey responses and will not be connected to the data. We only report trends that are common across many participants; we never report responses from any one participant. We will present our findings at national conferences and in medical journals where both health care providers, policy makers and other researchers can learn ways to better provide care for reserve/guard soldiers and their families.

Can I learn of the results?

Yes. The principal investigator, who is responsible for conducting the research, plans to share the results with participants through yearly newsletters.

How do I learn more?

Contact us at (716) 829-4731 or If a research staff member is away from the desk, please leave a voicemail and we will get back to you shortly.