Questions about Participation

  • How much longer is Project Viva going on for?
    Project Viva will continue as long as we have funding and the support of Viva participants like you! Most of our financial support comes from grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with each grant lasting for no more than 7 years. Every few years we apply for a new round of funding to continue the study. The biggest rewards in studies like Project Viva come over the long term!

  • I moved. Can I still participate?
    Yes! Everyone's information is important to us. Even if you have moved away from the Boston area, out of Massachusetts, or even out of the country, you can still participate with Project Viva. For those who are unable to participate in person, you can still participate via e-mail, mail, or phone. Occasionally we are able to travel outside of New England to complete in-person visits with participants who have moved out of the area. If you have moved, please call our hotline or email us to update your contact information: 888-888-4742, ext. 44251 or

  • Can I get my other kids involved in the study?
    Unfortunately, with our current study design, we cannot enroll your other children into Project Viva. Our enrollment period lasted from 1999-2003.

  • What happens with my information? How do you protect my confidentiality?
    Federal privacy regulations provide safeguards for privacy, security, and authorized access. Your teen's study results and your answers to questionnaires are kept strictly confidential. We use a number instead of names when we evaluate the information you give us. Information is stored in locked and password protected files, and identified by a study number only. The key that links your/your teen's name with the study number is kept in a separate, secure location. The risk of unauthorized access to the information provided is minimized by an individual password that is assigned only to authorized study personnel. In publications and presentations of research results, we report overall group trends in the data rather than individualized cases.

  • What happens when my Viva teen turns 18 years old?
    We would like to continue our research with your Viva teen (and you!) after your teen turns 18 years old. At this point, your teen will be considered a legal adult and able to consent to participate in Project Viva for himself/herself. We will reach out to your teenager when he/she turns 18 years old to ask for his/her consent to continue participating in Project Viva. If we are unable to reach your Project Viva teen when he/she turns 18 years old, we will continue to use the data from your teen that you have previously provided consent for us to use.

Questions about the Mid-Teen Visit

  • What can we expect at the Mid-Teen Visit?
    The visit will take approximately 3 hours to complete. This visit should be completed by Viva Teens and Viva Moms. The visit for both mom and teen involves:
    • an in-person visit
    • a blood draw
    • online dietary recalls
      Viva teens will also be asked to complete a week-long sleep and physical activity measurement, for which the teen will wear a Fitbit on his/her wrist. Viva teens who complete this portion of the visit will get to keep the Fitbit after the measurement is over as a thank you for completing the activity!
      Please see our What to Expect sheet for more details.
  • Are you able to accommodate my/my teen’s busy schedules?
    We’ll do our very best! We offer early morning, evening, and weekend appointments. Also, if it’s more convenient, we can do the fasting blood draw at your home separate from the rest of the visit.

  • Is my teen able to complete the Mid-Teen Visit on his/her own?
    We ask both mothers and teens to each complete distinct portions of the Mid-Teen Visit. While we expect most mothers and teens will complete their respective visit portions on the same day, you and your Viva teen are welcome to complete the visit at separate times. We require all teens under 18 -years of age to obtain signed parental consent before engaging in their portion of the Mid-Teen Visit.

  • What about transportation to the Fenway Landmark Center office?
    If you drive or take the T (see the Contacts page), we’ll give you $20 reimbursement. Alternatively, we can offer you a cab voucher to and from the Fenway office.

  • What is the purpose of the DXA scan? Is there radiation exposure?
    DXA measures body composition and bone density. We will ask you and your teen to change into loose fitting clothes and lie on an open table for about 5 minutes. The amount of radiation from a full body DXA scan is very small, about the amount one would get on a transcontinental flight from Boston to California.

  • Why do you take blood, urine, and hair samples?
    In these samples we look for hormones, nutrients, and other environmental exposures that tell us a large amount about one’s health.

  • Do my teen and I have to complete all of the visit components?
    Each visit component has been carefully selected to give us the highest quality data, while causing the least amount of discomfort. That being said, all portions of the visit are voluntary. We ask that you and your child complete all portions of the visit with which you are comfortable.

  • Can we find out the results of the measures that are done?
    At your visit, you will receive a print out of your and your child’s weight and body composition. After the Mid-Teen Visit we will send you the results of your blood test, dietary recalls, and bone density scan. If you have questions about the results of any of these tests, we ask that you contact your primary care provider to discuss those questions.
    We don’t routinely provide results of other measures because many of our results are not diagnostic of specific conditions, but rather, are used strictly for research purposes.

Questions About Yearly Surveys

  • Why do you send the Viva Teen survey directly to my Viva Teen?
    We know that teens feel a greater connection to things in which they are actively involved. We want Viva youth to be excited and engaged with Project Viva! Please contact us if you or your teen are uncomfortable about receiving the survey directly. We will send it to you instead.

  • What if I don’t know or am unsure of an answer to a survey question?
    Project Viva strives to have accurate and complete data but we understand that sometimes information is not always readily available (such as MCAS scores). We ask participants to complete surveys to the best of their abilities and if there is ever a question that they do not have an answer to, they can always skip it.

  • Why have I received the same survey multiple times throughout the year? Do I need to complete all of them?
    Every month, Project Viva sends out surveys to teen participants (and their mothers/guardians) who have birthdays during that month. We may send the surveys via email or in the mail, depending on what contact information we have for that participant and what the participant’s preferences are. If we do not receive the returned survey that month, then we send reminders until we receive a completed survey back. If you receive multiple yearly surveys corresponding to the same age (e.g., Age 15 Questionnaire), you only need to complete one survey.

  • How does Project Viva take into account the season in which we fill out the yearly survey?
    Project Viva sends out its survey around the time of Viva teens’ birthdays. As a result, there could be seasonal differences in reported physical activity time, electronic use, or even eating habits. To account for seasonal differences, we adjust for date of completion in statistical models. This approach allows us to produce results that are independent of these seasonal differences. Please report your answers based on the time frame of the question (e.g. "Within the last 30 days, how often has your child…."), and we’ll do the rest!

  • My teen is usually very physically active, but broke his/ her arm recently. What should I write on the survey?
    We understand that events like this can limit your child’s physical activity for a time. Nevertheless, when completing the survey, please report activity for the time period specified in the questionnaire.

  • Why do you ask some of the same questions repeatedly?
    We ask some of the same questions from year to year to understand how health and behaviors change over time. For example, in boys, asthma most commonly develops during the elementary school years and symptoms may improve during adolescence, whereas in girls, asthma may not develop until adolescence. Only by asking the same questions every year can we understand how health evolves. We know it can seem redundant at times to continue answering the same or similar questions, but these responses are very important to us and are used in many of our publications. Thank you for your patience!

General Questions

  • How many moms & kids are in the study?
    2,128 moms in Project Viva delivered a child—who then became a Viva child! About 1,600 mother-teen pairs are still involved after almost two decades!

  • How is the project funded?
    Project Viva is funded primarily by research grants from the National Institutes of Health.

  • What is ECHO and how does it relate to Project Viva?
    ECHO, or the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes Program, is a seven-year initiative started by the National Institutes of Health aimed at understanding the effects of environmental exposures on child health and development. ECHO will provide funding to many existing, longitudinal studies, like Project Viva, with the goal of investigating environmental exposures on child health and development. Project Viva will participate in ECHO by sharing standardized data elements that have been collected in the past or will be collected during present or future Project Viva visits. We are excited to join dozens of impressive pediatric cohorts to help discover ways to improve the health of future generations of children and adolescents!

  • What are some of the research results? Where are these results published?
    We have already learned a lot from all of our Project Viva participants! Our results have been published in numerous medical journals and publicized in the popular press, such as the New York Times, Boston Globe, NPR, and HBO’s Weight of the Nation. Project Viva findings have impacted national policies about diet during pregnancy, childhood obesity, and development of asthma. Please see the Research section of our website for a list of publications and recent news articles.

  • What do I do if I have a question or concern?
    Please call our hotline at 888-888-4742, ext. 44251 or email us at