Common Questions

Why do you keep calling me?

The WLS is a unique and important study which has contributed new knowledge about people’s lives for many decades. Our success grows with every completed interview. We need your participation, and we are grateful for the contribution of your time and for your trust in sharing your life with us. We would not call you if the WLS were not a very important study.

What is this study about?

The Wisconsin Longitudinal Study is about “everything.” Since the beginning, the study has asked about life experiences — education, family, careers, retirement, and health — of more than 10,000 members of the “Class of ’57,” (students who were seniors in a Wisconsin high school in 1957), and of many of their siblings and spouses. Over the years the data gleaned from these surveys have contributed to hundreds of research studies, resulting in greater understanding of people’s health and behavior.

What makes the WLS unique is the generous, continuing participation of the members of the class of 1957 and their families over many decades. They have given Wisconsin and the nation in-depth information about people’s lives that no other study in the world can match.

Are you advertising or selling something?

Absolutely not. The WLS is a research study, located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and supported by our nation’s leading health research agency, the National Institutes of Health. Since the mid 1970s, the WLS has been one of the most important and best-known social-scientific studies in the world. The WLS has never sold anything to anyone, and it never will.

Can’t someone else do this?

No, because no one else can speak for you. You were either selected when the study began, or you were selected because you are a sibling or a spouse of a person who graduated in 1957 and no one else can take your place. If we don’t get to interview you, our picture of the “Class of 1957” and their family remains incomplete. We need to talk to everyone in the original WLS sample and some of their family members.

When will the interview be scheduled?

You will get a call from an interviewer who will identify him or herself as a member of the UW Survey Center calling in regards to the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. During the phone call, the interviewer will schedule an appointment for the interview at a time that is convenient for you. We are very happy to accommodate your schedule. If you don’t remember when your interview is scheduled, or want to change the interview time, you may call us toll-free at (866) 891-2492.

Can I be sure my answers will be confidential?

Yes. Once the interview is over, your name and all other potentially identifying information is separated from your answers to our survey questions. Your answers are then combined with the answers of others, which are used for statistical analysis only. Identifying information about you will be protected legally by a Certificate of Confidentiality from the federal government, and it will never be disclosed to anyone unless you ask us to do so.

Are you sure I am part of the study?

Yes, but when we talk to you we will verify that you are the same person we have talked to in earlier years.

If I have caller-id, what will I see on my phone when you call?

When your interviewer calls to make an appointment, you will likely see a phone number with an area code of (608). Alternately, you may receive a phone call directly from the Survey Center with the caller-id of UNIV OF WISCON. Please feel free to contact us toll-free at 1-866-891-2492.

I’m a member of Wisconsin’s “Class of 1957.” Why haven’t you called me yet?

There are two possible reasons why we have not yet contacted you. Because there are almost 10,000 study participants, it takes us more than a year to talk with everyone. Also, only one in three members of the “Class of ’57” have been asked to join the study. Thus, about two-thirds of the class will never receive a call from us.

My parent is a part of this study.  Why are you calling ME?

Along the way we asked study members to tell us the name and contact information of someone who will always know where they are in case we can’t find them the next time we call. We are calling you to request current contact information for your parent or to ask you a few questions if your parent has passed.