FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions*:

 

Why are you being asked to be in this research study?

You are being asked to be in the study because you are an adult (19 years of age or older) and you own a cat that is over twelve months old, non-pregnant and, up to date on all rabies and other vaccinations.

What is the reason for doing this research study?

A common parasite found all over the world called Toxoplasma gondii is transmitted through cats. This study is designed to help address misconceptions cat-owners have about this parasite, and investigate whether cats who are exposed to this parasite modify their behavior.

What will be done during this research study?

Initial Survey (approx. 10 minutes)

We will ask you to complete an online survey to evaluate your understanding of cat Toxoplasmosis. After you complete the survey, we will ask you if you would like to help us evaluate your cat’s behavior. There are four different assessments for this. You can participate in as many of them as you wish.

Behavioral Assessment 1 (approx. 10 minutes)

In this assessment, we will ask you to answer a series of questions about your cat that will help us understand his or her personality.

Behavioral Assessment 2 (30 minutes)

In this assessment, we will ask you to bring your cat to the campus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha where we will study its behavior. We understand that you will only be able to do this if you live near Omaha. In this assessment, we will observe and record your cat’s behavior after she or he wanders within a room with scented materials. During this assessment, you will be able to watch your cat’s response using a live video feed.

Behavioral Assessment 3 (approx. 5 minutes to install the collar on the cat)

In this assessment, we will track where your cat goes when he or she leaves your house. We will show you how to place a lightweight tracking device on your cat’s collar to record their behavior. We also will show you how to download the data the device records to our website. You will be able to view where your cat goes by looking at the data on this website.

Behavioral Assessment 4 (5 minutes to install the camera; less than one minute to record events)

In this assessment, we will ask you to record some features of your cat’s behavior in your house. We will arrange for you to have access to online questionnaires to help you record some of your cat’s behavior. We will also ask you to make video recordings of your cat’s behavior with your smartphone or a camera we provide and then upload them to our website.

Blood Sampling (5 minutes)

In order to understand your cat’s behavior in relation to whether it has been previously exposed to Toxoplasma gondii, we will ask you to let us obtain a blood sample from your cat. We will also use this blood sample to measure your cat’s stress level, and to isolate your cat’s DNA. This will let us understand more about how your cat’s behavior is related to its stress level and its genetic make-up. 

There are two options for us to obtain your cat’s blood sample. One is for you to let our vet-tech draw it when you bring your cat to one of our study sites. The other option is for you to ask your local veterinarian to draw it during your cat’s regular check-up or vaccination.

Post-Participation Survey (approx. 10 minutes)

After two weeks of participating in one or all of this research’s assessments, we will ask you to complete a second online survey. This may help us understand your thoughts about this research. It may also help us understand whether participating in this research has altered your views about your cat’s behavior and your knowledge of cat Toxoplasmosis.

What are the possible risks of being in this research study?

Initial Survey

There are no known risks posed to you or your cat by taking the initial survey.

Behavioral Assessment 1

There are no known risks posed to you by answering questions about your cat’s personality.

Behavioral Assessment 2

If you handle your cat when we study your cat’s behavior, there is a risk of you being scratched, bitten, or exposed to pathogens that your cat already has.

To minimize this risk, we ask that you not handle your cat during our observations and secure your cat in its carrier at all times while on the UNO campus, except for when it is released into the study-room by the researcher.

You may experience some emotional distress while bringing your cat from home to the UNO campus. You may also experience some emotional distress while watching your cat’s behavior more closely.

Behavioral Assessment 3

There is a risk that you might be scratched or bitten when you place the tracking device on your cat’s collar.

Behavioral Assessment 4

There are no known risks of you recording features of your cat’s behavior in your house.

Blood Sampling

Drawing a blood sample poses a small risk to your cat of infection or bruising at the site of the blood draw. Both you and your cat may find the process of the blood draw stressful.

Blood Sampling Results

You may realize that your cat may have been infected with T. gondii and this may cause some emotional distress.

Post-Participation Survey

There are no known risks of completing the second survey to help us understand your thoughts about this research.

What are the possible benefits to you?

Your participation in the study will allow you to learn about the epidemiology, risk factors, prevention, and popular misconceptions with respect to cat Toxoplasmosis. However, you may not get any direct benefit from participating in this research study.

What are the possible benefits to other people?

This study may help us understand whether cats undergo behavioral changes after they are infected with Toxoplasma gondii. This has the potential to influence the development of veterinary early prevention programs that reduce any potentially adverse behavioral consequences and how we think about the spread of this parasite to other animals.

What are the alternatives to being in this research study?

Instead of being in this research study you can choose not to participate. You can also participate in as many parts of the study as you care to.

What will being in this research study cost you?

There is no cost to you to be in this research study.

Will you be paid for being in this research study?

You will not be paid to be in this research study.

What should you do if you have a problem during this research study?

Your welfare is the major concern of every member of the research team. If you have a problem as a direct result of being in this study, you should immediately contact one of the people listed at the end of this consent form.

How will information about you be protected?

All necessary steps will be taken to protect your privacy and the confidentiality of your study data. Your cats behavior will be video recorded. The video recording will be associated with a code assigned to your cat. Aspects of the recording that document specific behaviors may be shown to other researchers and be published. Information that could identify you personally as the owner of the cat will not be revealed. Data collected will be stored in accordance with the University of Nebraska at Omaha policy. That is, all paper data will be kept on University premises in a locked filing cabinet for at least seven years after the study ends. Blood samples will be stored in a freezer in a locked laboratory.

Who will have access to information about you?

By signing the consent form, you are allowing the research team to have access to your research data. The research team includes the investigators listed on the consent form and other personnel involved in this specific study at UNO.

Your research data will be used only for the purpose(s) described in the section "What is the reason for doing this research study?"

You are also allowing the research team to share your research data, as necessary, with other people or groups listed below:

    • The UNMC Institutional Review Board (IRB)
    • Institutional officials designated by the UNMC IRB
    • Federal law requires that your information may be shared with these groups:
      • The HHS Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP)

There is currently no plan to end this study. Your information may be kept and used indefinitely. You may cancel your authorization for further collection of research data for use in this research at any time by contacting the principal investigator in writing. However, the information which is included in the research data obtained to date may still be used. If you cancel this authorization, you will no longer be able to participate in this research.

How will results of the research be made available to you during and after the study is finished?

In most cases, the results of the research can be made available to you when the study is completed, and all the results are analyzed by the investigator. The information from this study may be published in scientific journals or presented at scientific meetings, but your identity will be kept strictly confidential.

If you want the results of the study, contact the Principal Investigator at the phone number given at the end of this form or by writing to the Principal Investigator at the following address:

Mohammad Alyetama

Chase Lab, 501B The University of Nebraska at Omaha

6001 Dodge St.

Omaha, NE 68182

What will happen if you decide not to be in this research study or decide to stop participating once you start?

You can decide not to be in this research study, or you can stop being in this research study (withdraw) at any time before, during, or after the research begins.

Deciding not to be in this research study or deciding to withdraw will not affect your relationship with the investigator or UNO. You will not lose any benefits to which you are entitled.

Will you be given any important information during the study?

You will be informed promptly if the research team gets any new information during this research study that may affect whether you would want to continue being in the study.

What should you do if you have any questions about the study You have been given a copy of “What Do I Need to Know Before Being in a Research Study?” If you have any questions at any time about this study, you should contact the Principal Investigator or any of the study personnel listed on this consent form or any other documents that you have been given.

Please feel free to ask questions about the purpose of the research study, the possible risks and benefits, and anything on this page by using the contact form on this website or by emailing the principal investigator at toxoproject@unomaha.edu.

What are your rights as a research participant?

You have rights as a research subject. These rights have been explained in this consent form and in The Rights of Research Subjects that you have been given. If you have any questions concerning your rights or want to discuss problems, concerns, obtain information or offer input, or make a complaint about the research, you can contact any of the following:

    • The investigator or other study personnel
      • Telephone: (402) 554-6150
      • Emails: malyetama@unomaha.edu or bchase@unomaha.edu
      • Mail: Chase Lab, 501B, The University of Nebraska at Omaha, 6001 Dodge St., Omaha, NE 68182
    • Institutional Review Board (IRB)
      • Telephone: (402) 559-6463
      • Email: IRBORA@unmc.edu
      • Mail: UNMC Institutional Review Board, 987830 Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-7830
    • Research Subject Advocate
      • Telephone: (402) 559-6941
      • Email: unmcrsa@unmc.edu
Do you have more questions?  Contact us here.
 
 
 

Resources:

What Do I Need to Know Before Being in a Research Study? [Download]

The Rights of Research Subjects  [Download]

*This text is part of the IRB protocol #661-18-EP Adult Consent Form.  You will receive a copy of that consent before you start any behavioral component of our project.

Our studies involving pet cats have been reviewed and approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) protocol #18-078-09-FC.