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MASStrong Pilot Research Study Consent Form 

You have been invited to participate in this research project because of your work as an essential health care worker in the state of Massachusetts. The COVID-19 pandemic has added stress to the work and home lives of many essential workers. Sometimes, talking to other people who are going through the same thing can be helpful.   

GPS Group Peer Support helps people connect with peers who have common experiences. Groups meet to have conversations that help them feel understood and supported.  Each group has two trained leaders. This year, we are offering group peer support sessions to health care workers like you in collaboration with the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety for a program called MASStrong. The focus of this study is to find out how to improve this program for essential health care workers like you. This study will not provide information to employers or policymakers about proposed changes to working conditions.  

Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this pilot study is to: 

  1. Measure how many participants complete the MASStrong sessions 

  1. Improve the content and training of MASStrong group leaders based on participants’ feedback  

Participation in the study is optional. Please read this before you agree to be in the pilot study.  

Description of Study Procedures
If you agree to be in this study, you will be asked to pre-register and join three group peer support sessions outside of your work hours. Each session is 90 minutes long. You will also answer several brief surveys: 

1.)   When you pre-register, you will complete an online survey that will take 8-10 minutes 

2.)   After each MASStrong session, you will complete an online survey that will take 8-10 minutes 

You will be asked to share your contact information (email, phone number) so that we can reach you and pay you for your participation. You will be asked to answer questions about how you describe yourself, such as your age, race, and role, as well as what type of health care organization you work for. You will be asked what you liked or didn’t like about your experience in the groups and you will be asked for suggestions for future groups.  

Risks/Discomforts of Being in this Study
First, you will be discussing and sharing your work experiences. Many people in health care help clients or patients whose experiences in life may involve trauma, poverty, disability, difficult diagnoses, racism, and/or other challenges. You may also be sharing your own life experience as relevant to the services you are providing for your clients or patients. Some of these topics and experiences can be uncomfortable to talk about. The MASStrong model is designed to encourage learning from experiences, even uncomfortable ones, and to find support from others who have had similar experiences.   

Second, although guidelines of group confidentiality will be established at the beginning of each session and reaffirmed regularly, there is a small risk that what is discussed could be shared outside the group by other participants. Given the commitments of confidentiality that are central to the MASStrong program, we consider this risk to be low. In addition, when completing any of the surveys, you can step away from a survey and return as you are ready.  

Benefits of Being in the Study
You may experience a positive impact on your mental health and well-being, and on your connection to others working in home care and long-term care.    

Participants will receive gift cards from MASStrong no later than 2 weeks after completing three of the four survey. 

  • Survey 2, 3, 4 – Must be completed within 2 weeks after you participate in a session - $60 each 

Participation is voluntary and your online survey responses are completely confidential. Neither your employer nor your supervisors will know whether or not you participated. Your choice to participate or not participate will have no effect on your career or employment. 

Participation in this study will also be kept confidential. Any identifying information you provide will be separated from your responses to the surveys. You will be assigned a random unique code so that we can connect your surveys and send you a gift card as a thank you for participating. This number will not connect your identifying information with your survey data. The records from this research will be kept strictly confidential. Any paper research records will be kept in a locked file, and all electronic information will be coded, analyzed, and secured using a password-protected file. The investigators will be the only ones to have access to the records. Any electronic versions of the data will be kept secure and confidential. Electronic versions of the data will be deleted 3 years after project completion. If the data is needed beyond the three years, it will continue to be kept in a secure location and will be destroyed when it is no longer needed. We will not include any information in any report we may publish that would make it possible to identify you. Aggregated results will be shared among MASStrong program staff to improve the program for future groups. Data from this study may be also used in professional presentations, academic journals, and other publications such as print and video.   

Right to Refuse or Withdraw
The decision to participate in this study is entirely up to you. You may stop participation in the study at any time without affecting your relationship with the investigators of this study, your employer, or MASStrong program staff or Betsy Lehman Center staff. Your decision will not result in any loss of benefits to which you are otherwise entitled. Additionally, you have the right to ask the researchers not to use any of your survey answers.   

Right to Ask Questions
You have the right to ask questions about this study and to have those questions answered by the investigators before, during, or after the research. If you have any further questions about the study, at any time feel free to contact Julia Prentice, Ph.D. at or 857-329-3660, or Peggy O’Neill, Ph.D. at or 413-585-7969 or 917-922-8927.  If you would like, a summary of the results of the study will be sent to you. If you have any other concerns about your rights as a research participant that have not been answered, or if you have any problems or concerns that occur as a result of your participation, you may contact the Smith College Institutional Review Board at or 413-585-3562. Alternatively, concerns can be reported by completing a Participant Complaint Form, which can be found on the IRB website at  

If you would like to keep a copy of this document for your records, please print or save this page now.  You may also contact the researchers to request a copy. 

I have read the above and volunteer to participate in this study.  *This question is required.
I agree to receive text messages (1-2 a week) from GPS Group Peer Support: MASStrong regarding surveys, support group links, reminders, and gift cards. Message and data rates may apply. *This question is required.