Great question! In every study at the Queen’s Sexual Health Research Lab, we ask a few general questions about our participants’ backgrounds, such as age, income, location, etc. in order for us to get a general understanding of who participated in our study. It is also important for other researchers to generally understand who participated in our study. Please note that we will never publish any information that might identify you—we always present all of our data as a summary statistic (for example, ‘63% of our sample resided in Canada’ or ‘The average age of participants was 45 years, and ranged from 18 to 72’).
And we understand that you might have some concerns about sharing personal information. All of your responses will be kept confidential. As a reminder, all of our questions include a decline response option if you prefer not to answer a question. If you have any questions about how your responses are stored, or what we do at the Sexual Health Research Lab to protect confidentiality and store information/data, please feel free to Contact Us.
Online research studies conducted by the Sexual Health Research Lab at Queen’s University are compatible with many different devices, including computers, smartphones, and tablets.
Please feel free to use the device that you have access to, or that is most comfortable or convenient for you to use!
If you are having any difficulties accessing a survey from your device, contact us. We would be happy to look into this with you. Depending on the study and your location, we may also be able to provide you with a paper copy of the questionnaire if you prefer. To speak with someone about technology and survey access, please visit the Contact Us page.
This will depend on the study, but for the most part, our online studies are open to individuals from any location. The letter of information, which is the first page of the survey, will provide you with information about who is eligible to participate.
Information about all of our current students, including who is eligible to participate (such as location requirements), are available on the Participate website page.
If you have any questions about eligibility or want to know more about our ongoing studies—please Contact Us!
Perhaps you have noticed that some of our surveys appear similar? You are not mistaken. Sometimes we use similar questionnaires, and we always ask a few demographic questions so that we can give a general description of who participated in our study (for example, the average age of participants). However, even if you are answering questions that seem familiar, the aim of the study is different.
All of our studies have a full-length title (for example: ‘Genital Arousal Sensations and Perceptions study’) but also a short-form name as well, to help make them easier to remember (for example ‘GASP study’). Both of these titles can be used to check if you have participated in a study before.
All of the surveys we conduct at the Sexual Health Research Lab are de-identified, in other words, there is no identifying information included in the survey (like your name) .
On top of this, most surveys we conduct are also anonymous. This means we have not assigned you a number/code to link with your responses, and once they have been submitted we are not able to determine who that response belongs to.
Another reason why we do not reuse answers is because the study may require information about your current experiences. Your answers may change over time, for example--you may have moved or, you may notice that there are changes in your sexual functioning over time.
It’s not uncommon for individuals participating in research to wonder… ‘how will this one study make a difference?’ Or you may be asking yourself, ‘will this help find a cure for the condition that I am experiencing?’
Research is an incremental process. What we mean by that, is that each study provides a small piece of information, that contributes gradually to a comprehensive understanding of a condition, experience, or phenomenon. Over time, we collect different pieces of the puzzle. For example, understanding how individuals cope with a certain condition (such as vulvodynia, or prostate cancer), and how this impacts their lives, wellbeing, and relationships--may provide us with important information to begin developing more targeted supports.
The letter of information for each study (located on the first page of online studies or provided to you at the start of your first in person visit) provides a general overview of the purposes of each study. If you would like to know more about one of our studies, we would be happy to share the final results of the study with you once it is complete. Please Contact Us by phone or email to request the results of a study. You will also be given the option to submit your contact information at the end of our studies to request the results when available. Please note that this contact information is always collected in a separate survey and cannot be linked to your other survey responses.
Online surveys come in all sizes. Some are shorter or longer than others. Typically, all of our online surveys are anonymous and therefore you must complete the survey in one sitting. If you are concerned you clicked on a link and cannot complete it, not to worry, you can click on it again to take in the future. If you have to stop at any point and have the URL saved, then you MUST NOT clear your cookies/cache if you close your browser if you want to pick up where you left off.
In short, it’s up to you! Participation is always voluntary.
You must provide consent prior to participation. This consent must be given freely, and without any coercion/pressure. If you have questions about the study that you would like answered before participating, please speak with one of the individuals organizing the study, or Contact Us by phone or email.
Perhaps you have started the study--and decided that you no longer wish to participate. No problem! You can change your mind and withdraw your consent at any time. Just let the experimenter know (if you are in an in-lab study), and they will be happy to conclude the study. Alternatively, if you are participating in an online study, you can contact the study administrator (their name and contact information will provided in the letter of information, as well as on our Participate page) or just close your browser window.
Just to note: If the study you are participating in is an anonymous online study--we may not be able to remove your data after you withdraw (i.e., after you close your browser window) as we will be unable to identify which responses are yours.
We are interested in a large range of research topics at the Queen’s University Sexual Health Research Lab, which pertain to human sexuality, sexual health and wellbeing. Some of studies examine conditions of genito/pelvic discomfort (such as Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder, or Vulvodynia), other research has examined sexual communication between individuals in different relationship constellations, the sexual response cycle, sexuality and wellbeing after prostate cancer, sexuality following childbirth--and much more. To find out what we are working on currently, visit the Participate page. Or check out our recent Publications.
If you have any questions about current or past research studies, are experiencing problems with one of our surveys--or just want to learn more about what we do at the Queen’s University Sexual Health Research Lab, we would love to hear from you!
You can send us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or reach us by phone at: 613-533-3276
At the SexLab, we strive to promote inclusivity in all aspects of our research.
Our studies often focus on clarifying misconceptions or stereotypes, promoting a better understanding of under served/under researched populations, and evaluating the inclusivity of healthcare practices. We work closely with patient advocates and community representative and use organizational resources when designing our research and methodologies. If you would like to provide us with feedback on one of our studies for ways we can make our research more inclusive: first, most of our studies we include a section with an open-ended text box either on the bottom of each page, or at the end of the survey. If there is feedback that you would like to give on any of the questionnaires, please use these boxes to do so. Alternatively, you can also contact us by phone or email to provide your thoughts or feedback on the survey that you participated in.
Questionnaires make up an important part of how we collect research information (though not the only method!). We also use other methodology such as quantitative sensory testing, Laser Doppler imaging, and fMRI (click on the links to find out more about each of these methods). At the SexLab, we use questionnaires for both online and in person studies. Many of the questions in our surveys are created by members of our lab, based on a review of the scientific literature, and in consultation with different experts (for example, with other health care providers, patient and community advocates).
We also use questionnaires that have been previously developed and tested by other researchers. We strive to use and develop measures that are as inclusive as possible. We appreciate your feedback on our surveys--as this helps us select the best possible, and most inclusive measures in our research. You can give us feedback at any time on the survey that you participated in - just contact us!
In accordance with the Queen’s University Research Ethics Boards, most of our items include a decline response option. The survey may require you to provide an answer in order to proceed--and we do this so that participants do not accidentally skip a question. (Which can easily happen on longer survey pages, with lots of questions!). But you can always select the ‘decline response’ option--and you will be able to proceed with the study without answer the question that you feel uncomfortable responding to.
If you no longer wish to participate in the study, you may withdraw at any time. Just let the experimenter know if in person or close your browser window if it is an online study. Please note that in anonymous online surveys, if you choose to withdraw participation, we are unable to remove your previous responses from the database
If you want to provide feedback on questions that you do not feel comfortable answering, most of our surveys will provide an open-ended question where you can provide feedback. Or you can Contact Us directly.
In our lab, we use the moorLDI2-IR laser Doppler blood flow imager (LDI) to measure blood flow in the genital region. Before imaging, we ask participants to remove their clothing from the waist down in a private area of the room. Then, we ask them to position themselves comfortably on the exam table so that we can scan the genital region. LDI can measure blood flow anywhere on the body without touching it, and the “laser” part of it is just a red light that scans without any contact. In most of our LDI studies, participants watch nature films and erotic films during scanning and they may answer some questions about their experience of the films; the session usually lasts about 40 minutes in total.
Quantitative Sensory Testing QST involves using different devices to measure participants’ sensitivity to various sensations, like warmth, heat, vibration, touch, and pain.
Temperature and vibration: In our lab, we use the Medoc TSA-II to measure participants’ sensitivity to warmth, heat, and vibration to determine their “thresholds” (e.g., at which point did the sensation go from not being felt to being felt?) to these sensations. We test different parts of the body, like the arm and the genitals, for sensitivity to these sensations. If the study involves testing the genital area, participants are asked to remove their clothing from the waist down and to position themselves comfortably on an exam table. For all tests, we ask participates to focus on the area being tested. Some tests involve us asking the participants whether they feel something or not, and if so, to rate how strong the sensation is, and other tests might involve telling us when the sensation changes (e.g., from warmth to heat pain). None of the sensations are applied at levels that would be harmful to the participant.
Filaments: In our lab, we use Semmes Weinstein Sensory Testing Monofilaments and other filaments to measure sensitivity to touch or pain on specific areas on the body. If the study involves testing the genital area, participants are asked to remove their clothing from the waist down and to position themselves comfortably on an exam table. When we examine sensitivity to pain, the pain is typically at a low (or sometimes medium) level and there is no risk of harm to the participant other than brief (1-2 seconds usually) experiences of pain.
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)
In our lab, we use fMRI in various studies. For example: What happens in the brain and spinal cord when people with pain conditions experience painful heat on their hand? What happens to the internal clitoral structures when participants are watching an erotic film? For studies like these, participants are required to be safe for scanning in a large magnet (3 Tesla). For example, people with metal implants are not allowed to be imaged because placing them in a strong magnetic field would cause them harm. If participants are safe to be scanned, then we ensure that they are comfortably placed in the imager and then a picture of different levels of the brain is taken. Then, the protocol starts, which can involve erotic films or QST. The scanner then takes pictures of brain activity during the protocol and these are then placed over the brain pictures to show us where and when the activity took place.