What’s Special about Data Collection?
Data collection can easily be one of the best parts of doing a PhD. This stage is where a year’s work all comes to life. My data collection has consisted of implementing a health programme entitled Next Level Health (NLH) that I created during my first year. The aim is to help women gain confidence over their health by setting small achievable goals across key areas to build a balanced approach to health. Such areas include exercise, nutrition, sleep, eating behaviour, self-care and stress management. A total of 60 women participated in NLH and attended monthly sessions to formulate health plans that can be incorporated into their daily lives. Each session began by reviewing their progression through the previous month’s plan. Then I helped them to set new achievable goals using the programme framework I created. While this PhD stage has certainly required some intensive time commitments, it has also proved to be very rewarding.
Getting to Know your Participants
The monthly sessions created a high level of participant interaction that became quite personal since health was the topic of focus. As a result, I have come to know a vast variety of women from very different walks life. They ranged between 19 and 40 years of age and consisted of students, mothers, health professionals, full-time employees, creatives, esteemed researchers, introverts, extroverts, and everything in between. Despite the diversity of their backgrounds, they all share a common interest – the desire to improve their health. It has been humbling to learn the unique challenges, perspectives and experiences each woman faces.
Learning New Skills
Another rewarding part of the data collection phase is the specialised skills you may have the opportunity to learn. In addition to the check-ins, women also attended three health assessments which involved a battery of tests I needed to carry out. These tests included a step test, a body composition profile, ultrasound scans, blood tests and surveys. Thus I’ve learned many skills including how to operate an ultrasound, measure body composition through a series of skinfolds, girths and breadth measurements and also how take bloods trained at the local hospital. I’ve also grown significantly in my ability to initiate and engage conversation during the monthly sessions. I have always enjoyed learning new skills to add to my tool belt and this has certainly served as an excellent opportunity. Who knows where these skills will play out in my future!
Sharing what you’ve Created
Most importantly, the data collection phase has provided me the opportunity to implement something I’ve worked hard to create. It has been exciting to see my ideas come to life as the women utilise the programme to set goals and confidently formulate health plans. It is even more rewarding to witness their progression in health awareness and make significant life changes toward their greater life goals.
At the end of the day, you must be motivated and passionate about your research. Everything else comes after that 😉