Frequently Asked Questions about COGA

What is COGA?

COGA, the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism is the most comprehensive research project ever to be conducted on the inherited aspects of alcoholism.

Sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), COGA is studying a large number of ethnically diverse families at ten sites across the United States with the support of some of our country’s most experienced researchers. Since 1991, COGA has interviewed more than 17,000 members of more than 2200 families around the United States many of whom have been assessed several times.

The primary goal of COGA is to identify genes that increase or decrease the risk of alcoholism so that improved strategies for prevention and treatment of alcoholism can be designed.

What does participation involve?

  • A confidential interview and questionnaires that include questions about your medical, family, and personal history
  • Some participants will be asked to give a 1-3 ounce blood sample for genetic analysis
  • A brain wave measurement similar to an EEG (if eligible)
  • Computerized tests that measure memory, attention and planning skills

Will participation in the study benefit me in any way?

You will receive compensation for your time and effort.

The most important benefit is the satisfaction that comes from contributing to a study that can help further the understanding of alcoholism and by doing so, help improve the health and well-being of families affected by this serious health problem.

Why is my participation so important?

Alcohol dependence is a complex health problem that can only be understood by carefully studying biological and environmental factors over a period of many years. COGA is a long-term study, and your family has already made a significant contribution. The information your family has provided is a valuable resource that cannot be replaced by another family.

Alcoholism is like a giant “puzzle.” We can only gain understanding by examining all the "pieces", which requires a high participation rate by individuals from selected families.

The current focus of COGA is on studying adolescents and young adults over a period of several years as they age into adulthood. Our goal is to better understand the pathways by which genetic risk unfolds during this period -- why some people develop problems with alcohol and others do not -- so that improved strategies can be designed for preventing these problems.

How will my information be kept confidential?

Your name and identifying information will not be on the research material. 

ID numbers are assigned to each person and are used to label the research materials. 

All of the research materials are kept in secure files and only research staff members have access to them. The information you provide will not be shared with family members or anyone else outside of the research team. 

COGA has obtained a Certificate of Confidentiality from the U.S. Department of Healt and Human Services. This certificate means we cannot be forced to tell people who are not connected with the study, including courts, about your participation, without your written consent. We can send you a copy of this certificate.

What progress has this study made?

Many important findings have resulted from the COGA study. We have identified genetic and environmental factors that are related to alcoholism. Please click here to view some of our recent findings.

Who do I contact for more information or to schedule an appointment?

Click here for contact information for each COGA site.


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