The RISE Study

Examining Race, gender Identity, and Sexual orientation for health Equity

RISE study logo

Study description

Compared to heterosexual people, those who identify as LGBTQ experience worse health outcomes, including higher rates of depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular problems. Black Americans, straight and queer, face profound health inequity across nearly all measures. Yet few studies look at the intersection of these groups to assess health outcomes for Black sexual minorities.

The Examining Race, gender Identify, and Sexual orientation for health Equity (RISE) Study examines the effects of daily minority stressors in queer persons of color. This pilot study will collect survey and biometric data to examine daily minority stress among a sample of racially diverse queer adults residing in the Franklin County, Ohio area. This work will build on previous findings that demonstrated minority stress was uniquely related to cortisol in a sample of mostly White queer young adults.

The main aim of the study is to examine the effects daily minority stress on queer POC, including the effects on diurnal cortisol. A secondary aim is to examine resiliency factors that might serve as protective factors against the experience of daily stressors such as connectedness to one’s community (both queer and racial) and social support.

Overall, it is our hope that this work will a) contribute to the field by further examining how daily minority stressors (i.e., discrimination) can lead to health disparities in queer POC; and b) identify points of intervention — where we might prevent the cycle of stress leading to cortisol dysregulation and disparities in health outcomes.

Are you or someone you know interested in participating in the RISE Study? 

Take the screener survey to see if you’re eligible

Email the RISE Study coordinator


Study team

Wilson Figueroa, PhD (he/him) Principal Investigator
Research Scholar, Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Evaluation Studies, Ohio State University 

Dr. Figueroa’s primary research focuses on the examination and of stress, stress processes, and their relation to health in sexual minority adults. Thus far, this has included how experiences of stigma and discrimination directly and indirectly influence both self-reported health and physiological stress responses in sexual minority adults. Dr. Figueroa oversaw funding acquisition and conceptualization of the project. He manages day-to-day activities of the project and will oversee data analysis and manuscript preparation.


Peggy M. Zoccola, PhD (she/her) Co-Investigator
Associate Professor and Director of Experimental Training, Department of Psychology, Ohio University

Dr. Zoccola’s research focuses on the role of social, cognitive, and emotional factors (e.g., stigma and discrimination, ruminative thought, emotion regulation) in prolonging physiological and psychological stress responses, and the potential health consequences of this persistent activation. Dr. Zoccola will assist Dr. Figueroa on several aspects of the study, including project development, supervision of study personnel, oversight of data collection, data interpretation, analyses, manuscript preparation, and scientific presentations.


Lisa A. Frazier, PhD, MPH (she/her) Co-Investigator
Research Scholar, Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Evaluation Studies, Ohio State University 

Dr. Frazier’s research focuses on the administrative, legal, and social origins and implications of inequities in health policy. She also has expertise in policy dissemination and communication, which she will use to assist Dr. Figueroa with analyzing policy implications of the study results and their dissemination through manuscript and other document preparation.


Bucky Foster, BS (they/them) Graduate Research Associate
MPH Student, Ohio State University College of Public Health

As an MPH student, Bucky is focusing on epidemiology. They are particularly interested in LGBTQ+ health issues, particularly mental health, and BIPOC and intersectional identities in health equity. Bucky leads survey creation and implementation, and manages participant consent, support, and compensation.


Courtney A. Taylor, MA (she/they) Graduate Research Associate
PhD student, Department of Psychology, Ohio University

A doctoral student in experimental health psychology, Courtney’s research interests focus on the roles of minority stress, stigma, and discrimination on potential health outcomes for members of the LGBTQ+ community. She will assist Dr. Figueroa with survey design, data collection, interpretation, analyses, and manuscript preparation.

Study News

Figueroa selected for special grant development program

April 21, 2022: Congratulations to Center for HOPES Research Scholar Wilson Figueroa for being selected to take part in the CCTS Launch to K Grant-Writing Workshop! The goal of the program is to guide early career scholars through the process of writing a high-quality K grant submission. During the competitive review process for participation in the workshop, the committee found promise in Dr. Figueroa’s RISE Study, so will work with him to refine and strengthen his proposal over the course of the three-month program. Learn more about Dr. Figueroa’s passion for research.


Examining discrimination as a determinant of health

April 14, 2022: Center for HOPES Research Scholar Wilson Figueroa is wrapping up recruitment and data collection for his study on the effects of daily minority stressors in queer persons of color. Figueroa discusses how the RISE Study contributes to health equity research by examining the role of discrimination in minority health outcomes and how, through rigorous design, methods, and analysis, health outcomes research can advance equity and justice in public health, health care practice, and health policy. Read more


Figueroa research on stress effects in LGBTQ+ adults lauded

March 4, 2022: The Society for Health Psychology has selected “Daily Stressors and Diurnal Cortisol Among Sexual and Gender Minority Young Adults,” authored by Center for HOPES Research Scholar Wilson Figueroa as its highlight of the month for March. In the 2021 study published in Health Psychology, Dr. Figueroa and his colleagues report the results of their study on sexual and gender minority stress and diurnal cortisol, the changes in the stress-sensitive hormone. Their findings suggest that there is a unique relationship between the everyday experience of sexual and gender minority stressors and cortisol levels throughout the day, which has implications for the physical and mental health of lesbian, gay, bisexual/pansexual, trans, nonbinary, and gender diverse individuals. Congratulations, Dr. Figueroa!

Read the article and supplemental materials.


Figueroa receives funding for new research

April 2, 2021: The Center for HOPES is thrilled to announce that Wilson Figueroa, Senior Consulting Research Statistician, is the recipient of one the College of Public Health’s highly-competitive racial justice seed grants. Read more


Related publications

Figueroa, W. S., Zoccola, P. M., Manigault, A. W., Hamilton, K. R., Scanlin, M. C., & Johnson, R. C. (2020). Daily stressors and diurnal cortisol among sexual and gender minority young adults. Health Psychology.

Manigault, A. W., Shorey, R. C., Hamilton, K., Scanlin, M. C., Woody, A., Figueroa, W. S., … & Zoccola, P. M. (2019). Cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and cortisol habituation: A randomized controlled trial. Psychoneuroendocrinology104, 276-285.

Manigault, A. W., Figueroa, W. S., Hollenbeck, C. R., Mendlein, A. E., Woody, A., Hamilton, K. R., … & Zoccola, P. M. (2018). When family matters most: A test of the association between sexual minority identity disclosure context and diurnal cortisol in sexual minority young adults. Psychosomatic medicine80(8), 717-723.

Woody, A., Figueroa, W. S., Benencia, F., & Zoccola, P. M. (2017). Stress-induced parasympathetic control and its association with inflammatory reactivity. Psychosomatic medicine79(3), 306-310.

Zoccola, P. M., Manigault, A. W., Figueroa, W. S., Hollenbeck, C., Mendlein, A., Woody, A., … & Johnson, R. C. (2017). Trait rumination predicts elevated evening cortisol in sexual and gender minority young adults. International journal of environmental research and public health14(11), 1365.

Woody, A., Hamilton, K., Livitz, I. E., Figueroa, W. S., & Zoccola, P. M. (2017). Buccal telomere length and its associations with cortisol, heart rate variability, heart rate, and blood pressure responses to an acute social evaluative stressor in college students. Stress20(3), 249-257.

Chadwick, A. E., Zoccola, P. M., Figueroa, W. S., & Rabideau, E. M. (2016). Communication and stress: Effects of hope evocation and rumination messages on heart rate, anxiety, and emotions after a stressor. Health communication31(12), 1447-1459.

Figueroa, W. S., & Zoccola, P. M. (2016). Sources of discrimination and their associations with health in sexual minority adults. Journal of homosexuality63(6), 743-763.

Figueroa, W. S., & Zoccola, P. M. (2015). Individual differences of risk and resiliency in sexual minority health: The roles of stigma consciousness and psychological hardiness. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity2(3), 329.

Zoccola, P. M., Figueroa, W. S., Rabideau, E. M., Woody, A., & Benencia, F. (2014). Differential effects of poststressor rumination and distraction on cortisol and C-reactive protein. Health Psychology33(12), 1606.