For Families

The Center for Family Research (CFR) at the University of Georgia has been forming partnerships with rural communities to improve the lives of African Americans for over 15 years. Under the leadership of Dr. Gene Brody, we work closely with families, schools, and community leaders to understand better the challenges that some rural African American families face and the ways in which they overcome them.


What is a research project?

The Center for Family Research is involved in a number of projects that help us learn how families, schools and communities can best support challenges that families face. Each project starts with a proposal that is sent to an agency, such as the National Institutes of Health. This proposal states very specifically what we are interested in studying. Our approach focuses on understanding what families do right. For example, in some projects we study young people who do well – those who stay in school, avoid using alcohol and other drugs, and plan for the future – and look at what parents, teachers, and community members have done to support those behaviors. In some of our studies, we explore ways in which we can help all families support their children so that they develop into strong and healthy adults. We also test programs that are designed to help families prevent problems before they start. In these studies, one group of families participates in the program and another group of families does not participate. We then compare the two groups to see if the families who took part in the program experienced the benefits that the program was designed to provide.

In our more recent studies, we have begun to explore how stress gets “under the skin.”  Stress is a normal part of life, but when it is chronic, it may begin to take a toll on a body.   We have begun to look at the connection between life experiences and health by measuring a variety of biological factors, including glucose, triglycerides, and cholesterol.   We’ve also began to examine stress impacts on the brain and have conducted functional brain scans on more than 100 CFR study participants.

We are not an agency that provides services to families. Rather, we study families to try to develop better solutions to problems that they face. Families often already have the answers – we try to discover those answers and share them with other families.

Who can participate in a research project?

Each research project is designed for participants of particular ages. To participate in a project, the participant must meet the specific criteria for that project.

What will I be asked to do if I agree to participate?

Each project at the Center for Family Research is different.  If you agree to take part in one of our projects, usually you will be asked to set up a time to do a research visit in your home. One or two trained field interviewers may come to your home and ask you to complete a computerized questionnaire. The interviewer will either read the questions to you or you will listen to them through a headphone. You will enter your answers privately and they will be saved on the computer. Some studies may also ask to collect blood, saliva and/or urine samples.

What happens to my information when it gets back to the Center?

All information that participants give us is kept private. Every participant will be assigned a code number and the information you provide will be stored with that code, not your name. Researchers carefully follow guidelines to make sure that your information is kept confidential. We do not study any one participant’s answers – we combine all the information from all participants in the study and only examine the group’s answers.

Why does the Center focus their research on African American families?

At the Center for Family Research we are committed to learning about African American family life through research studies. We recognize the lack of useful information about rural African American families’ strengths and challenges and decided to direct our efforts toward this research. Because federal and state policymakers use family research studies to decide how to spend tax money, it is very important that they have accurate information about all of Georgia’s families.