COVID-19 Social Distancing April Update:

We hope you are managing during this difficult period. Tips on managing feelings of stress, anxiety and distress are available here.

Please note that the Bugs and Brains Study has finalized recruitment for Phases 2 and 3, involving the interview assessment and collection of biological specimens. Recruitment for the online questionnaire-only component of the study is still ongoing. Please contact us here if you would like further information about participating or have any questions.

The Bugs and Brains Study is made up of four phases; an online screening questionnaire, an interview, collection of biological samples, and further online questionnaires. These phases are briefly described below. Please note that full study recruitment has been finalized but you may still be eligible to participate in Phases 1 and 4 comprising the questionnaire-only sub study.

  • Phase 1 - Online Screening Questionnaire

    We will send you a link to an online screening questionnaire. The questionnaire will ask about your demographic details, medication use, substance use, medical health, mental health, and gut health. You can complete this questionnaire online at a location of your choosing. It will take approximately 30 minutes to complete.

  • Phase 2 - Interview with a Researcher

    In this phase, we will invite you to complete an interview at the University of Melbourne, asking detailed questions about your mental health, mood, and behaviours. This interview can take up to 2 – 3 hours, however will be less than 2 hours for most people. You can complete the interview via video call (Skype or Facetime) or telephone if you are unable to attend in person.

  • Phase 3 - Collection of Biological Samples

    Phase 3 involves collection of biological samples over a 48-hour period. If you are invited to participate in this phase you will be sent faecal, urine, and saliva collection kits. Detailed collection and storage instructions will be provided by a researcher to make it as clean and easy as possible.

    The faecal, urine and saliva samples will all be collected by you in private at your home, and stored in your freezer. We will provide materials to make this sterile and safe.

    We will visit you at home to pick up the biological samples. During this home visit, we will also ask to collect a small sample of your hair. The hair will be cut close to the scalp (an area about the size of 10 cent piece), and come from the back of your head (so that your hair covers the small patch left). We will show you before and after pictures of others who have had the collection done, to help you decide if you wish to provide this sample. If you have short hair (less than 3cm long), we will advise you against providing this sample, as it may leave a visible gap in your hair. Finally, during this home visit, we will ask to take a measurement of your height, weight, and waist circumference. To do this, we will ask you to remove your shoes, hat, jumpers, items in your pockets, etc. Measurement of your waist circumference is ideally measured against the skin, and requires a researcher to identify the bottom of your rib cage and the top of your hip bone. However, if you are not comfortable with this, the measurement can be conducted over a layer of light clothing. All the measurements will be taken by a female researcher.

  • Phase 4 - Online Questionnaires

    Phase 4 is completed in conjunction with Phase 3. At the same time as you are sent the biological sample collection kits, you will also be sent a link to a set of online questionnaires. The questionnaires will consist of further demographic questions and ask you about your mood, stressful life events, coping strategies, quality of life, oral and physical health, and your diet. You can complete these questionnaires online at a location of your choosing. The questionnaires will take approximately 60 minutes to complete.

For further details about what participation in the Bugs and Brains study involves, please read through the Plain Language Statement (PDF 108.4 KB).