In commemoration of the California Teachers Study's 25th anniversary, we asked study participants to share why they first joined the study, and why they continue to participate more than two and a half decades later.
Hundreds of participants wrote to share their reasons for participating. From those stories, common themes emerged: a belief in the value of science, a commitment to research, and the desire to help others through their participation, even if they wouldn't receive any benefits themselves.
A long-term study like the California Teachers Study is made possible only by the continued commitment of its participants. The voices, reasons, and stories of the women who have made this research possible since 1995 are highlighted in the quotes below.
I participate to contribute to science.
"I have been enrolled in the study from the beginning. My motivation, which continues to today, is that if I can help further science in any way I am all for it. In this era of so many "science deny-ers" it is more important than ever to promote scientific study."
"I am so proud to be a participant in the Teachers’ Study. As an educator I have always been interested and have benefited from scientific knowledge. Educators are generally helper types; that being a good description of me, I hope that young people will value the knowledge gained from these many years of statistical information gathered from like minded educators!"
"As a science teacher, I appreciate the collection and use of data to identify trends, build hypotheses, and test theories. I am glad to be able to contribute to the effort."
I participate to receive study findings.
"I love hearing about what you have discovered health-wise from so many teachers over such a long research program."
"This study has allowed me an opportunity to not only share, but to receive information that is vital and important to me. I have been able to share with those I care about and value the opportunity."
"I joined as a much younger woman with children and hoped that information gathered/gained over time would be not only relevant to me as I aged, but even more so, for them as they aged. I have kept the results of information you have sent us and have re-read it from time to time. I'm proud to be a teacher and contributor to this project! Thanks for the opportunity!"
I participate because I believe in the longitudinal nature of this study.
"I love participating in this because I feel like it is such an important thing to do. I remember when I first was asked to participate back when I was at the start of my career. Now I’m toward the end of it. So many teachers. What an extraordinary sample population."
"I think long term studies are fascinating. An excellent to way of learning about the effects of life on a group of people over decades of time."
"It has been a source of pride to know I have been involved in this study....a feeling of participating in something so large that will contribute to the health and possible cure or prevention of cancer."
I participate to help others.
"I joined the CA Teachers Study when I was asked to because of the precedent set by my mother. She was a faithful participant in a couple of studies for many years. She knew it was a small sacrifice of time to aid research that could have long term benefits for many people....and I agree. Thank you to all who are gathering and analyzing the data."
"Thank you for allowing me participate in the study. It has been a real privilege to be part of such important work. The feedback has been interesting but more importantly, I’m pleased to think that I may be helping to save lives."
"It is an honor to be part of the CA Teachers Study. When I learned of the opportunity, I jumped on it because it allowed me, in a very small way, to further human knowledge in ways of potentially great benefit to many people. And it has turned out that I have had to do very little to contribute to this benefit! Of course I have been part of this study."
I participate because I have had cancer.
"As a teacher and cancer survivor, I am passionate about this outstanding longitudinal study. The probing questions and data collected from the answers provide valuable information. I want the study to continue and am eager to continue participating in it. Most of all, I hope my and others' contributions will help others."
I participate because a family member has had cancer.
"I joined because I was an active CA teacher and my mother, my sister and my daughter all suffered from cancer. I wanted to contribute to this study."
"My sister died of breast cancer many years ago. My daughter is now cancer free from breast cancer. I have met so many women over the years who have had the disease. Taking part in this study is the least I can do for all those hit by breast cancer. I have been blessed so far to never have had it."
I participate because a colleague or friend has had cancer.
"A good friend of mine died of breast cancer in her 40's just before you asked me to be in the study. It was an easy decision to make. I decided, 'This one's for her!'"
"I am very proud to be a part of this study. I look forward to hearing from you and share the information with my family and friends. I am now retired, however I have three colleagues who did not make it to retirement. All three died of breast cancer, one just several weeks ago. What you are doing is so important. Do not despair. You are making an important difference in the lives of many, many people. Thank You 💜"
I participate for teachers!
"You asked why I am a member of the California Teachers Study. I am in my 70's now and in my whole life I never experienced the support and friendship I received from other teachers. I am in this study to help in whatever small way I can."
"I've been proud to be a part of a scientific study of my profession. I've always suspected that educators face unique challenges and stress factors that set us apart. The results of this research project will hopefully identify the causes and effects of these factors on us as individuals and as a group."
I participate to help future generations.
"I belong to the California Teachers Study for my daughters. Whatever issues are discovered--the knowledge will improve my daughters' and my granddaughter's health and life!"
"I participated in the Teachers Study when my daughter was very young. My reason for participation then was to help the medical profession collect data to help my daughter and all the other future generations, to maintain good health. Long term studies are invaluable for all generations to come. Participation in long term studies is a no-brainer, in my opinion."
I participate to support research on women's health.
"I chose to participate because of the paucity of data about women's health issues."
"The reason why I have been participating in the survey because surveys have yielded information what has helped scientists discover patterns that have been used to create health advice and resources. I have been the beneficiary of this myself. This is especially important for women who have been woefully underrepresented in medical research. I feel honored to be one small research subject is this amazing large longitudinal study!"
I participate to stay connected.
"It has been a pleasure to be part of the California Teachers Study. The information has kept me connected to the field, even though I have been retired since 2004. I have kept active through various educational associations and volunteerism, which has allowed me to "pay it forward". I feel that my input to the study is valued, and I intend to continue to be a participant. Thank you for all you do!"
Our team is grateful for the commitment and dedication of all of our study participants for the last quarter century!