Assessment of a Daily Diary Study Including Biospecimen Collections in a Sample of Sexual and Gender Minority Young Adults: Feasibility and Acceptability Study

Stephanie H. Cook, Erica P. Wood, Mariana Rodrigues, Janice Jachero Caldas, Maxline Delorme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Young sexual minority men (YSMM) engage in cardiometabolic risk behaviors (eg, substance use) at higher rates than their heterosexual counterparts. Theory and previous research suggest that these risk behaviors may stem, in part, from exposure to minority stress (ie, discrimination based on sexual identity and other identities such as race). Objective: This pilot study examined the feasibility and acceptability of a virtual 2-day daily diary study that examined daily experiences with discrimination, cardiometabolic risk behaviors (ie, sleep, physical activity, and substance use behaviors), and patterns of physiological stress and inflammation among YSMM aged 18 to 35 years. Methods: Participants (n=20) were recruited from the greater New York metropolitan area and engaged in a 2-day daily diary protocol wherein they provided web-based consent, took a web-based baseline survey, and then, starting the next day, provided 3 saliva samples a day for 2 consecutive days to measure salivary cortisol, engaged in 3 daily diaries per day, and provided 1 blood spot sample via the finger prick method to measure high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. At follow-up, participants were interviewed via videoconferencing to ascertain their experiences and feelings related to the study protocol. Qualitative analyses explored the feasibility and acceptability of the study protocol, and exploratory quantitative analyses explored the descriptive statistics and Pearson correlations among the main study variables of interest. Results: The retention rate was high (19/20, 95%) in our study sample. Qualitative analyses demonstrated that participants were willing to engage in similar, longer-term studies (eg, studies that include both week and weekend days) in the future and suggested the feasibility and acceptability of our study protocol among YSMM. However, participants noted several areas for improvement (eg, redundancy of survey items and difficulty pricking one's finger) that should be considered in future research. Preliminary quantitative analyses revealed a moderate negative correlation between everyday discrimination and mean cortisol levels (r=-0.51; P=.03). Furthermore, descriptive analyses suggest that that daily cortisol curves differ across races or ethnicities among YSMM. White and other-identified YSMM experienced the highest cortisol awakening response (mean 0.39, SD 0.21 μg/dL for White participants; mean 0.34, SD 0.34 μg/dL for others) with the steepest decline around bedtime (mean 0.05, SD 0.04 μg/dL for White participants; mean 0.09, SD 0.13 μg/dL for others) followed by a lower cortisol awakening response (mean 0.31, SD 0.11 μg/dL for Hispanic participants; mean 0.23, SD 0.15 μg/dL for Black participants) and a slower decline around bedtime (mean 0.10, SD 0.09 μg/dL for Hispanic participants; mean 0.03, SD 0.02 μg/dL for Black participants) among Hispanic and Black YSMM. Conclusions: Overall, the results suggest that similar study protocols are feasible and acceptable among YSMM. Future research should highlight the pathways through which cardiovascular disease risk may arise among YSMM using longer-term study designs and more diverse study samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJMIR Formative Research
StatePublished - 2024


  • cardiovascular disease risk
  • health behaviors
  • study protocol
  • young sexual minority men
  • YSSM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Informatics


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