This evening I became part of an exclusive group of Oregonians, if "exclusive" is taken to mean 100,000 adults chosen at random for the Key to Oregon study. Here's how the study is described in a FAQ page.
The study will test, track and map the COVID-19 symptoms, and new infections, of up to 100,000 Oregonians in real time. OHSU is leading the study in partnership with the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health and in collaboration with the Oregon Health Authority.
Data from the study will guide state and local leaders in easing stay-home orders while protecting against new outbreaks. The study will enroll about 100,000 adults, chosen at random, from across Oregon. It will last up to one year.
Researchers want to develop an early-warning system that allows them to see:
- How many people in Oregon have been infected with the coronavirus.
- Where infections may be occurring.
- How the virus may spread statewide.
Leaders expect the study to help them balance Oregon’s economic and social needs with keeping Oregonians healthy and safe.
Since I'm an admirer of science, and can't stand people like Trump who have politicized the COVID-19 crisis, I was thrilled to get a postcard about a week ago telling me to watch my mail for an invitation to join the Key to Oregon study. Which arrived today.
All members of a household who are over 18 can join, so Laurel, my wife, also will be part of the study if she chooses to do so.
Obviously the main motivation is to play a small part in helping Oregon, and the country, deal with the coronavirus crisis. Another FAQ answer says:
The study will:
- Show the link between lifting physical-distancing restrictions and any rise in infections.
- Find cases early so people who test positive for the coronavirus can stay home (isolate), and so those they’ve been in contact with can be identified (contact tracing). These steps keep the disease from spreading.
- Spot outbreaks early so officials can act to contain the spread before they need to bring back stay-home measures.
- Find people who are infected but who don’t have symptoms, to control this otherwise invisible source of spread.
But there's a few other benefits to being a study participant. I can request a free Kinsa digital thermometer that will send daily readings directly to OHSU via a Bluetooth app. That's cool! (Hopefully my temperature will also remain cool, non-feverish.)
SUMMARY OF KEY INFORMATION ABOUT THIS STUDY
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Jackilen Shannon, PhD
CONTACT INFORMATION: [deleted]
You are being asked to join a research study. This consent form gives you important information to help you decide if you want to join the study or not.
We want to learn more about the COVID-19 virus and how it spreads across Oregon. We are measuring symptoms and the number of people who are infected with this virus. We will share this information with state and local decision makers about whether such things like stay-at-home orders and wearing masks are working to control spread of the infection. We also want to learn about people’s behaviors during this outbreak and how the crisis is affecting their lives.
If you choose to join, you will be asked to:
- Consent to the study in the website
- Answer daily questions about your symptoms that will take between 1-10 minutes a day
- Take your temperature with your own thermometer or a no cost, study-provided, internet-connected thermometer
- Answer questions (survey) once a week
- Choose if you want to allow us to contact you for future research
- Choose if you want to add your study information into a repository (a large database that has many people’s information in it)
If you meet a certain level of symptoms or you are chosen randomly, we may send a COVID-19 testing kit to you. We may offer to send testing kits to all adults in your household. The testing kit(s) will need to be returned for testing.
The study will last about one year but you can choose to leave the study at any time.
You may experience the following risks:
- Mental distress or possible financial hardship if you are found to be positive for COVID-19.
- Feeling uncomfortable about questions, but you may choose not to answer any question.
- Possibility of a breach of confidentiality, but this is a small risk, as we follow all of OHSU’s privacy rules.
If you choose to join this study, you may benefit from being tested for COVID-19 and possibly getting earlier treatment for the infection. You may also help cut the risk of spreading the infection to others.