This summer, I was a research assistant on the Summer Team Impact Project “Eye-tracking Research to Examine Alcohol Product Packaging’s Appeal to Youth” under Dr. Matthew Rossheim and Dr. Matthew Peterson. My partner, Freddy Lopez, and I focused on recruiting participants for the study throughout the summer. We targeted GMU summer camps for the 12-17 year-old age range and undergraduate and graduate summer classes for the 21-25 year-old age range. We sent emails out to professors and camp directors asking if we could recruit their students for our study. Upon approval, we visited many camps and classes and handed out flyers with information about the study and directions to sign-up to participate. Although we managed to recruit a good number of participants, our recruitment efforts were hindered by a variety of obstacles. Some of these included lack of responses from professors and camp directors, accommodating 12-17 year old’s needs such as transportation and parental consent, and lack of attendance from participants who had signed up to take our study.
As a Community Health major, I am very interested in the public health implications of this project. Not only are we gathering data on the health behaviors of both under-age youth and individuals over 21, our research is allowing us to learn about what kind of alcohol product packaging is most salient and attractive to youth. The possibility that the results of our research may impact policy development is very exciting and a great motivator for all of us in the group. I’ve learned that federal and state alcohol regulations have a very significant impact on the accessibility of alcohol and thus the public health of under-age youth. I hope to be able to continue similar public health research during the rest of my time at George Mason.