Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Who can participate in the SMILE study?

People who can participate in SMILE must:

  • Be at least 18 years old;
  • Be currently living in Brazil, Kenya, or Vietnam;
  • Have access to a computer or smart phone/tablet, and be able to complete an online survey;
  • Be a sexual or gender minority. By “sexual or gender minority” we mean anyone who:
    • Feels romantic or sexual attraction to other people of your same gender/sex; OR
    • Feels romantic or sexual attraction to people of both or all genders/sexes; OR
    • Identifies as asexual - that is, you do not feel any sexual or romantic attraction towards others; OR
    • Identifies as a gender that is different from your gender/sex assigned at birth; OR 
    • Identifies as non-binary or gender-fluid -- that is, neither male nor female, or sometimes male and sometimes female; OR  
    • Is intersex or has intersex conditions

My family member / friend is a sexual and/or gender minority. Can I participate in the SMILE study on their behalf?

No, all participants must be completing the survey based on their own individual experiences, and not answering on behalf of someone else. You are welcome to share the information about the study with your family member / friend and encourage them to take the survey!


How long does the survey take?

The survey may take a minimum of 45 minutes and up to 90 minutes, depending on how quickly you complete the questions. There is also an online consent form, which will take at least 10-15 minutes.


Will I be paid for completing the survey?

No, you will not receive payment for completing the online survey. This is a completely voluntary study and we hope that people are willing to share their experiences with us, so that their voices and needs are heard. 

In the future, some participants who have already completed the survey may be contacted again and offered the opportunity to complete additional surveys and/or assist with recruiting other participants. If you are re-contacted, you may be eligible to receive small payments (about $1-$5).  


I don’t have access to a computer, and I don’t have a web-enabled device such as a smart phone/tablet. Can I complete an in-person survey or fill out the survey over the phone?

Sorry, at this time all participants must use a web-enabled device such as a computer, smart phone, or tablet to complete the survey. In the future, there may be other opportunities for study participation (such as completing individual interviews or joining a focus group); we will post these opportunities to the study website so check back regularly for these types of announcements!


How is my study data protected?

We understand that many sexual and gender minorities experience discrimination, stigma, and even violence. For this reason, and to help protect you and your confidentiality, SMILE will never ask for your name. 

However, in order to contact you for follow-up surveys we will ask for your phone number and your email address; this contact information will be stored separately from your survey responses. The answers you provide in the survey will only be used for research purposes, and in ways that will not reveal who you are. Your contact information will be kept private and will not be shared with anyone outside of the project, and your contact information will not be directly linked to your responses to the survey.  

When information from this study is presented at scientific meetings or published in research journals, the identities of individual participants are not revealed. Special care will be taken to protect the privacy of participants so that other researchers may analyze the data from the survey: any personal information that could identify individuals will be removed or changed before study files are shared with other researchers.


Why should I participate in this research, if the SMILE study doesn’t actually provide me with any services?

Good question! Here’s why we are really hoping you’ll be generous enough to spend time taking the survey and sharing your experiences with us. 

Most research to date involving sexual and gender minorities has been conducted in high income countries, like the U.S. or Western European countries. Very few studies have been conducted in other countries such as Brazil, Kenya, and Vietnam. In the past, most of the research involving sexual and gender minorities was: 

  1. a) small-scale (involving only one country, or a few hundred participants); or
  2. b) focused on HIV or HIV risk behaviors, or other health conditions; or
  3. c) focused on only specific populations (such as men who have sex with men, or transgender women) while excluding other groups.  

In the SMILE study, we want to learn about the health, AND mental and emotional wellbeing, AND life experiences of ALL sexual and gender minorities (over 10,000) from three very different countries. Our goal is to collect data in order to understand how policies, programs, and services can best be created or adapted to help support sexual and gender minorities living in your country.  


How will the study results be communicated?

Results and findings from the study will begin to be available once all participants have been enrolled and completed the survey (the end of 2022 at the earliest). Summaries of survey data will be posted here on the SMILE website, along with links to all study publications.

The study researchers are committed to publishing only in open-access journals - that is, journals that anyone (participants, researchers, policy makers, and members of the public) can access for free. Full-text publications will only be available in English; however, we will ensure that summaries of the findings are also made available in Portuguese, Kiswahili, and Vietnamese.  

Research team members (FIOCRUZ in Brazil, Ace Africa in Kenya, and LIFE Centre in Vietnam) will also work to disseminate and communicate findings to local community advisory boards and local stakeholders once they are available.  


Help! I started taking the survey, but something happened and the webpage closed / froze / I didn't finish the survey. What do I do?

Please see our “Troubleshooting” page for common survey issues and resolutions.


Who can I contact with questions?

If you have any questions about the research study, or if you need help with the survey, please see the “Contact Us” page for contact information.