Georgia State seeks gay couples who drink for ‘major’ study

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A Georgia State psychology professor wants to fill a large gap in research by studying the effects of alcohol on same-sex relationships.

Dr. Dominic Parrott (photo) is actively recruiting 200 same-sex couples for a study that requires two visits to Georgia State’s downtown Atlanta campus. Participants will be compensated between $40 to $120. 

“The aim of the project is to better understand the factors that contribute to healthy and unhealthy intimate relationships in same-gender couples,” Parrott, clinical training director at GSU's Department of Psychology, told Project Q Atlanta. “My research lab has done a lot of work with heterosexuals in intimate relationships and the role of alcohol, and to put it bluntly, there is a major need in the research field to understand these same sorts of processes in same-gender couples.”

Parrott is looking for people age 21 or older who are in a same-sex relationship and who currently drink alcohol. 

“People drink alcohol socially, some people drink alcohol problematically, but at the end of the day if people are experiencing different stressors in their relationships, it can cause problems in their relationships,” Parrott said. “We’re not trying to position alcohol as always a problem, but people drink and it’s good to know how that functions into a relationship.”

Couples will come in together for the two visits. The first visit they will fill out a questionnaire to determine eligibility for the study. 

“We want to make sure people are healthy and aren’t taking any medication that would do them harm if they have alcohol,” Parrott said.

In the second visit, people are randomly assigned to drink alcohol or not. Researchers will have the couples do various interactions during that time. 

“That takes about an hour-and-a-half or two hours. If they didn’t drink alcohol, they can leave. We pay them cash and they go,” Parrott said. “If they drank alcohol, they stay in the lab and they can watch movies, take a nap, we serve them lunch. They just hang out until their blood alcohol level goes down.”

“We arrange whatever their preferred type of transportation is, but they can’t drive. No cost to them,” he added.

The first visit pays $40 and the second visit pays up to an additional $80. Participants will also receive educational materials and referrals to different agencies if needed. Those who complete the study have the opportunity to earn more money by recruiting others to take part. 

“We really hope that the information we get from this study can be used to develop culturally sensitive programs to promote healthy relationships in same-gender couples,” Parrott said. “That’s the goal.”

It’s the first of two studies on the topic taking place over five years, funded by a $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The second study starts in 2021.

To take part in the PASSION study, submit your name and contact information here.


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