Establishment of the National Couple’s Health and Time Use Study Biorepository: NCHAT-BIO

Dr. Lisa Christian, Department of Psychiatry
Rank at time of award: Associate Professor
Dr. Claire Kamp Dush, Department of Human Sciences
Rank at time of award: Associate Professor
The proportion of US adults identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) has doubled since 2008, with a current rate of 4.5%, or more than 11 million people. Sexual and gender minorities have greater risk for obesity, asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers, as well as markedly poorer self-rated health compared to cis-gender heterosexuals. Exposure to stress associated with sexual minority stigma and discrimination is implicated in these disparities, in part through behavioral factors including sleep, depression, and health behaviors (e.g., tobacco use, alcohol use, sedentary behavior). However, data on effects of stress and behavioral factors on biological functioning among sexual and gender minorities are exceptionally limited.
We propose to capitalize on the unprecedented opportunity to address these empirical gaps by adding biological data collection to the National Couple’s Health and Time Study (NCHAT) to create a biorepository: NCHAT-BIO. Recently funded by NIH, NCHAT will collect survey data which includes discrimination, mood, sleep, and health behaviors in a population-representative sample of 4035 adults in same- or different-gender relationships. The current pilot study will 1) establish data collection for NCHAT-BIO, by collection of dried blood spots via US mail from consenting NCHAT participants and 2) provide feasibility/validity data via conduction of biological assays on a subset. These efforts will directly support an R01 application recently submitted to NIH by our team, and be used to support applications to NIH to examine effects of stress on health among sexual and gender minorities.