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Frequently Asked Questions

The VOICES of Black Women is a study led by the American Cancer Society. The focus of this study is to better understand cancer and other health conditions among Black women. Participation in VOICES involves completing an online health and life history survey at enrollment and updating information twice a year for at least 30 years. Results from this study will help inform how to improve the health of Black women for generations to come.

Our goal is to enroll at least 100,000 Black women in the US between 25 and 55 years of age who have never had cancer. Registration is open across 20 states and Washington D.C. View eligibility requirements.

As a valued participant in VOICES of Black Women, you’ll collaborate with researchers by sharing behavioral, environmental, and lived experiences through surveys taken at least twice a year. When you join VOICES, over the years our study can make note of any important health and general lifestyle updates that occur in women’s lives. 

Upon joining,  you will complete surveys on the secure VOICES website. The initial survey takes about one hour, with shorter follow-ups twice a year. These surveys contribute to our study of uncovering  day-to-day experiences affecting cancer risk. We may invite you for additional data collection, offering details on these opportunities. Participation is voluntary – saying no doesn’t exclude you from VOICES of Black Women. 

By agreeing to this research, you’ll be asked about various aspects of your life, from childhood to adulthood. All questions are optional, but every insight you share will fuel our research to understand the health of Black women better. 

VOICES is funded by the American Cancer Society and run by the Population Science department. The American Cancer Society has conducted population studies like VOICES with over 2.5 million participants since the 1950s and publishes original research on the causes and prevention of cancer which have been used to guide national and international guidelines and policies. VOICES of Black Women builds on this robust legacy at the American Cancer Society and addresses the limited racial and ethnic diversity in our previous cohorts and in health studies more broadly.

The VOICES team recognizes that there is a history of Black women’s bodies being exploited to advance medical knowledge, yet Black women have received the fewest benefits compared to their male and White counterparts. Given this legacy of injustice, you may hesitate to become involved in this study. It is important that we hear and address your concerns about research, treat you with respect, and demonstrate cultural humility. In fact, the goals of VOICES of Black Women reflect this. Through a commitment to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion (or DEI), the American Cancer Society aims to form fruitful partnerships with and amplify the voices of Black communities across the country.

The study will last for at least 30 years. Because lived experiences can change with time and it can take many years for cancer and other diseases to develop, we need to collect information over time. The more information you provide over the course of the study the better we can understand the health of Black women.

Yes. Because this study is online, you will need to have access to internet service or a cell phone to participate. If you do not have access to a personal computer or an internet-enabled device, you may want to check for locations in your community that offer free computer or internet access. These vary by community but some libraries, community centers, or parks provide these services. Although the federal government announced that April 2024 was the last fully funded month for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), you can visit Xfinity ACP to see if you qualify for Xfinity’s internet essentials plan.

There will be no cost to you for participating in this study.

We honor and value the time participants will give to this study, but due to its size (100,000 participants), you will not be paid to enroll in the VOICES of Black Women. In the future, we may invite you to participate in additional VOICES research activities beyond filling out online surveys. Some of these activities will offer a small amount of compensation if you agree to participate in them.

Yes, the research team is committed to cultural sensitivity and diversity. We’ve actively sought input from individuals who understand and respect the unique concerns of the Black community. Meet the team.

VOICES of Black Women is not a clinical trial or experiment. Researchers will not ask participants to take pills or medication, change their lifestyle, or receive treatments of any kind. Clinical testing will not be conducted on participants. 

Thank you for your interest and willingness to support outreach for the VOICES of Black Women study. It is with dedicated individuals like you that we will be able to successfully spread the word about this important initiative throughout communities nationwide. You can download our recruitment card and/or flyers below to share.

Recruitment Card

One Page Recruitment Flyer

Two Page Recruitment Flyer

Thank you for your interest and willingness to support outreach for the VOICES of Black Women study. It is with dedicated individuals like you that we will be able to successfully spread the word about this important initiative throughout communities nationwide. To ensure that we have all of the necessary information about your outreach opportunities and efficiently connect you with the best person and/or resources to support your efforts, please complete this brief VOICES Intake Form.

ACS values scientific collaboration as an important way to advance research, and we have a long history of collaborating with researchers using data from our population cohort studies. To learn more about collaborating using data from our other population studies cohorts, Cancer Prevention Study-II (CPS-II) and Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3), please visit the Population Science Department web page and review our Data Access Policies and Procedures. 

Once we have successfully completed enrollment for the VOICES of Black Women study, we will begin accepting proposals for collaboration for this study as well. Until then, if you would like to share opportunities to support recruitment, please complete our VOICES Intake Form. 

Additionally, you can learn more about the research that ACS funds and current funding opportunities from the Extramural Discovery Science program 

VOICES of Black Women is enrolling people who:

  • are biologically female or identify as a woman.
  • identify as Black.
  • do not have history of cancer (except basal or squamous skin cancer).
  • are between the ages of 25 and 55 years.
  • live in one of our study enrollment states. Enrollment is open across 20 states and Washington D.C.  See if we’ll be enrolling in your state.

The VOICES of Black Women seeks to understand the lived experiences of individuals who navigate their daily lives as Black women. As such, our study encompasses women of African descent, including but not limited to African American, African-Caribbean, African-European, and similar backgrounds. Race and ethnicity are ideas that were created without scientific or biological meaning but still impact many aspects of life. Studying race and ethnicity can help us examine differences and inequities in health, healthcare, medical practice, education, and more.

In this study, a woman is defined as an individual who is biologically female (assigned female sex at birth) and/or self-identifies as a woman. Our primary goal is to understand the lived experiences of Black women residing in the United States and how these experiences may impact the development of cancer and other diseases.

Currently, we are trying to understand what factors lead to the development of cancer diagnoses. Once a person has cancer, their body has been affected by the disease and its treatments. In our research on the causes of cancer, we would not be able to tell the difference between something that may have led to developing cancer and something that resulted from cancer. Although you aren’t eligible to participate, please spread the word about VOICES by sharing this study with 3 others you know.

Cancer generally occurs later in life, but much of what may affect our risk of developing cancer may take place at younger ages. We chose the lower age of 25 because cancer is more common as we get older so if we enroll women who are too young, it will take longer to study much of what we are trying to learn. We chose the upper age of 55 because we want to ensure we can adequately address drivers of cancer risk and aggressive disease among older women, where the median age at diagnosis is 64. By choosing this age range, we are well-positioned to study the life experiences of Black women with accuracy and without having to wait longer to find the answers we all hope to uncover.

Participants within 6 months of their 25th birthday can enroll.

Unfortunately, the cutoff age to enroll is 55 years old. Although you aren’t eligible to participate. We encourage you to spread the word about VOICES by sharing this study with 3 others you know.

Yes, you may participate in VOICES. This study only involves filling out surveys and does not include any procedures that would interfere with your pregnancy.

According to the U.S. Census, there are roughly 8.5. million Black women aged 25-55 years in the US. Of these, more than 90% (approximately 8 million) live in the 20 states where we will be enrolling. Focusing on these 20 states will allow us to effectively use our resources.

Graphic showing illustrated steps to sign up

Once you click ”Join Us Today, you will be taken to the VOICES Portal to register for a secure account. Next you will read and electronically provide consent to be in the study. To finish enrolling in VOICES, you will complete a life and health history survey that will take about 1 hour. You will complete shorter (about 30 minutes) online surveys twice per year. If you develop cancer, we may ask your permission to contact your doctor to learn more about your diagnosis. Over time, we will provide study updates and may also invite you to participate in additional research activities.

As a participant, you will receive e-newsletters containing study highlights and updates. You will also be able to keep up with VOICES updates by visiting your participant portal.

Black women are underrepresented in research. The information that you provide will contribute to research that can improve the health of Black women. If Black women are not included in research studies scientists will not know if we can apply what we have learned from studies of other race groups to Black women. This means your participation in this study can help ensure that the experiences unique to Black women are included in research. It also means that the information learned from this research can be applied to strategies to benefit the health of Black women.

Yes. We start with women who have never been diagnosed with cancer because we want to learn about what may affect your risk of being diagnosed with cancer. But if you develop cancer, we want to continue collecting information from you so we can also understand ways to improve the health of Black women after a cancer diagnosis. The goal of the VOICES of Black Women is to learn how to improve the health of Black women, and this includes before and after a cancer diagnosis.

The American Cancer Society provides support and resources to individuals affected by cancer. We understand that receiving a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming and we can help connect you with resources to support you through cancer diagnosis. Please check out for information on how the American Cancer Society can help you navigate this difficult time. We would further seek to understand your experiences through our research and ask that you remain engaged in VOICES to ensure that Black women experience the best possible outcomes following a cancer diagnosis.

We may ask you for permission to get a copy of your medical records. This is optional and you will still be enrolled in VOICES if you say no. The reason we may ask for your medical record is to get more information about a cancer or other disease diagnosis and its treatment. We may also ask your permission to contact the hospital where you were treated for a sample of the tissue taken to diagnose or treat your cancer, such as a biopsy.

An Institutional Review Board (IRB) is a group of people whose role is to protect the rights and welfare of human research participants. The Emory University IRB is the IRB for VOICES. The Emory IRB will continue to make sure that the VOICES participants rights are being upheld throughout the entire study.

ACS researchers have access to your data. Only a select group of ACS research staff have access to your personal identifiable information. They use it to conduct study activities like communicating with participants or performing linkages to other sources of health information. All VOICES staff complete training on privacy, security, and ethics in human health research.

Agencies that make rules and policies about health research have the right to review research records if they ask. Those with the right to look at your study records include the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for The VOICES of Black Women at Emory University.

Study records can also be opened by court order. In the unlikely event that we receive a court order or subpoena for your record, we will protect your information to the extent allowed by law.

Your data’s safety is our priority. We will store your information securely. Your personal identifying information (like name and Social Security number) will be kept separately from other data you provide us for this study. When your information is used in research studies, a study ID will be used instead of your name or other identifying information. Your name and other identifying information will never appear when we present or publish the study results.

To “deidentify” means to remove any information that would identify a participant. Instead of your name, we will use your study ID to identify you when we conduct research analyses or share research data with other researchers. We will require that the researchers make no attempt to identify you, nor share the data with anyone else without our permission.

The primary purpose of this study is to conduct research analyses to understand cancer risk factors among Black women. Qualified researchers and statisticians will analyze data on the VOICES study population to draw meaningful insights and develop recommendations for cancer prevention and control strategies. For example, results from our past studies have contributed to building nutrition and physical activity guidelines for cancer prevention. While these findings may contribute to scientific publications, presentations, or reports, your individual data will always remain anonymous.

Graphic showing illustrated flow of how your data is used

We are committed to conducting this study with the highest ethical standards and in compliance with applicable regulations. Your personal information will be kept strictly confidential and will not be shared with any unauthorized individuals or organizations. Our research study adheres to applicable laws and regulations, including data protection laws to ensure the privacy and security of your data and we use appropriate ethical approvals from our research ethics committees.

In some cases, we may collaborate with other research institutions or organizations to further our research objectives. However, any data shared will be de-identified to ensure privacy and confidentiality. Research activities will be overseen by the Emory Institutional Review Board (IRB) to protect the rights and welfare of human participants.

We understand that Social Security numbers are private, and many individuals are worried about sharing this information. However, Social Security numbers are very important in long-term follow-up studies like VOICES. We use them to link with other important data sources including cancer registries and death certificates in the event a participant develops cancer or dies. We will never willingly share this number with anyone. Only a select group of ACS research staff will have access to use it for purposes related directly to the study. All VOICES of Black Women study staff complete training on privacy, security, and ethics in human health research. You can still move forward with enrollment if you’re not comfortable with providing your SSN.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that requires researchers to confirm that participants are OK sharing sensitive patient health information.

Common examples of PHI include names, dates of birth, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, Social Security numbers, and health care records.

You can withdraw (quit) at any time after giving your consent. If you decide you want to withdraw, please contact the research team at [email protected] or call us at (800) 494 4113. You have two choices:

  1. You can choose to stop filling out surveys but allow the American Cancer Society to keep and use the research data you have already contributed.
  2. You can choose to stop filling out surveys and decide that you do not want the information you provided for The VOICES of Black Women to be used in new research projects.

Importantly, any data used in previous research studies will be maintained to ensure research integrity, and verify previous findings, as needed. Your historical data will continue to be protected.

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