Today, our team spent hours writing in women's names and signing our own (it's strange how my signature changes after writing it 700 times!) on cover letters, blu tacking pens to the cover letters, and matching cover letter ID numbers to replacement surveys. This way, anyone who hasn't returned a survey gets a second chance. For some reason, this was mind numbing work today - usually it doesn't bother me much.
Eventually, we decided to take a break to check the mail and see if we had any returned surveys. There were 42. Yay! So, just to give you an idea of what it's like to be a graduate student collecting returned surveys... there's the initial excitement that we received them and then we get to open them. I'm pretty sure our eyes light up when we open them, just like it's Christmas day.
Today we had one survey that a woman stuck a Post-it note to. It said, "Sorry about the delay with returning this questionnaire, have been on holiday." It's sort of sweet that she wrote the note!
I have decided that opening returned surveys is like opening a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get. Sometimes everything is complete. Sometimes answers are missing. Sometimes people answer questions and put an asterisk next to their response with an explanation at the bottom of the page.
My favorite part about checking surveys is looking for comments on the last page. We've read all sorts of interesting comments. For example, one woman who received a $5 note explained that it should be a higher denomination. Some women simply thank us for including them in the sample. Others write paragraphs about their own weight-related struggles.
Here's what one woman wrote to us today:
Since last time (the previous survey) I was challenged to reflect on my health and weight and realised I'd definitely done the "middle-age spread." Joined WeightWatchers online (no time to go to meetings!) and lost 10kg in 7 months. Have managed to keep it off for 6 months by upping the "walking" exercise. Would now like to try to budge the last 5kg. Thanks to this survey, I've taken some positive steps to improve my health outcomes. Yay!It's moments like this where I am so happy and thankful that I've found a field that I love! Weight management research is definitely going to keep me busy for a long, long time.