January 26, 2023

Study to explore COVID’s impact on essential workers

Vanderbilt researchers are inviting non-health care essential workers to participate in a study to better understand how they continue to be impacted by COVID-19.


by Jill Clendening

Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers are inviting non-health care essential workers to participate in a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-funded study to better understand how they continue to be impacted by COVID-19 and to guide efforts to keep them and their families safe as new variants emerge.

“Early in the pandemic, essential workers continued showing up at work, putting their lives at risk and literally keeping our society going, and they continue to do so,” said Community Outreach Team Manager Tiffany Israel, MSSW, who leads the study’s recruitment process. “While health care providers’ work has been recognized, non-heath care workers have not received the credit they deserve. These are the unseen heroes we are inviting to participate in our study.”

Several area unions and larger employers of essential workers have agreed to share recruitment materials for the Virus and Infections in Essential Workers (VIEW) study, and in the coming months community recruiters will be speaking to employee groups and distributing information at community events. Recruitment for the VIEW study began in December 2022.

All adults who work outside their homes, live in Tennessee within a 100-mile radius of Nashville, and who are not health care providers, are eligible to participate.

The VIEW study was designed for participants to complete all activities at home and on their own schedule.

“This is a unique study in that we have worked hard to remove the traditional barriers to participating in research that might have kept people from joining a study in the past,” Israel said.

After informed consent is obtained, participants are enrolled and invited to complete brief weekly surveys and self-collect a nasal swab sample. Study materials are delivered to participants’ homes, and samples are returned to investigators weekly in pre-paid mailers. Participants are also invited to participate in optional self-collected finger-prick blood drop samples twice a year.

“We are cognizant that essential workers are busy and might be working first shift, second shift, third shift, and 40, 50, 60 hours a week,” said Erica Anderson, PhD, MEd, clinical research program manager for the study. “So, we have designed the study activities to be easy, and we’re compensating participants for their time on each study activity because we are so grateful that they’re willing to give it.”

The project, led by Carlos Grijalva, MD, MPH, professor of Health Policy and Biomedical Informatics, will be conducted over the next four years. Team members also include Velma Murry, PhD, professor of Human and Organizational Development at Vanderbilt University, and Aima Ahonkhai, MD, MPH, assistant professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

To learn more about the VIEW study, visit or email