What can I expect?

The Chicago Multiethnic Prevention And Surveillance Study (COMPASS) is a long-term research program that examines the impact of factors such as lifestyle, healthcare access, the environment, and genetics on the health of Chicago residents.

When you participate in COMPASS, you will join a group of over 6,000 Chicagoans who are sharing their health data in order to help researchers at the University of Chicago better understand the health of our city’s citizens.

What data is collected?

Survey data

Participants are asked to provide information on their background, health history, environment, and lifestyle by completing 3 online surveys. Survey #1 should take about 10 to 20 minutes to finish, Survey #2 may take up to one hour to finish, and Survey #3 should take about 30 minutes to finish.

Survey #1 is completed at the UChicago research clinic or at a mobile research unit event. Surveys #2 and #3 can be completed at either of these locations or at home.


Our trained program staff members collect a blood sample (about 4 tablespoons), a urine sample, and a saliva sample from all COMPASS participants. These samples are collected at the UChicago research clinic or at a mobile research unit event, and are analyzed using a series of tests in order to learn about participants’ genetic background, environmental exposures, and overall health.

Participants are encouraged to provide an optional stool sample using a simple take-home kit that can be returned to our laboratory in a pre-paid mailer. The stool sample is analyzed to learn about the participant’s gut microbiome and the important relationship between cells and microorganisms in the human body. Program staff will provide participants with the stool sample collection kit, as well as instructions for collecting the sample and mailing it back to our laboratory.

Physical measurements

Program staff collect each participant’s height, weight, and waist circumference, as well as their blood pressure and pulse.

Air quality measurements

To explore the connections between air quality and health, participants are asked to allow COMPASS to collect air quality measurements from inside their homes. Our air quality devices resemble small boxes that plug into a wall outlet and connect to participants’ home wi-fi network. The air quality devices are installed by our program staff and are retrieved after one month.

Electronic Health Record (EHR) data

In order to see how participants’ health changes over time, the COMPASS consent form asks permission to collect health data from electronic health records.

Data from other IPPH research initiatives

Participants who are enrolled in more than one IPPH research program are encouraged to consent to share their COMPASS data with the other programs in which they are enrolled. Sharing data across our research initiatives allows the IPPH to pool its resources and develop richer data sets.

How does it work?


Scheduling (5 minutes)

To book an appointment, you have three options:

  1. Call us at (773) 795-4767
  2. Email us at compassinfo@uchicago.edu
  3. Visit the events page to learn where our mobile research units will be and visit without an appointment.

Consent (10 to 20 minutes)

When you arrive for your appointment or at a recruitment event, you will be asked to complete the online COMPASS consent form. This consent process ensures that you understand the reasons for this research and what it means to participate in the study.

Our program staff members will provide you with computer access and will answer any questions you may have throughout the consent process.

pencil with paper

Survey (10 to 20 minutes)

After completing the consent process and enrolling in COMPASS, the next step is to complete the first of the project’s three surveys. Staff members will provide you with an iPad to complete this survey, or it can be completed on your mobile phone.

Biospecimen collection (30 minutes)

After completing the first survey, our research staff will collect your physical measurements and biospecimens.

Physical Measurements (10 minutes)

We will obtain your height, weight, blood pressure, heart rate, hip and waist circumferences.

Biosamples (20 minutes)

We will collect blood and urine samples. We may collect a saliva sample. Before your scheduled visit, be sure to have something to eat, drink plenty of water, and take any medications as usual. There is no need to fast before your appointment.

pencil with paper

Follow-up surveys and data collection

After completing the in-person data collection steps, our research staff will give you instructions on how to complete Survey #2 and Survey #3. Both of these surveys are completed online, and can be accessed using a link sent as an email or text message. You can complete these surveys at home, at the UChicago research clinic, or at a mobile research unit event.

Our staff will also give you a stool sample collection kit to take home and return by mail, and will help you to schedule an appointment for the installation of home air quality monitors.

Do I get anything for participating?

COMPASS participants are eligible to receive $75 for full participation.