Mason: Health Starts Here FAQ

I have a question about the study. How can I contact you?

You may send an email to with any questions.

What information will you collect?

Briefly, the online survey will ask about your health, dietary habits, environmental exposure, stressful events, and similar factors that may affect college success and a healthy and fulfilling life.  The second part is a health evaluation in the Population Health Center in Peterson Hall, Fairfax Campus.  You will receive a brief physical exam and we will collect a saliva and a blood sample (about three tablespoons of blood). There is also a bone density scan. Trained medical assistants and nurses will do the exams and they are overseen by nurse practitioners and medical doctors.  Your responses are confidential.  We will also request your permission to access your student record so we can track how your health connects to your academic progress.  You are eligible for a $10 gift card for completing the online survey and another $25 if you complete the in-person visit. Complete details are in the consent form (pdf)

Will my responses be confidential?

Yes, the data in this study are confidential. Your information will have a participant code in the database instead of your name or identifying information.  A complete description of how we will secure your private information is contained in the consent form (pdf).  You can also withdraw at any time and request that your data be destroyed.  Details about this are also in the consent form (pdf).   

Who will see my information?

Selected members of the team will see the survey responses and health evaluation results, but no names will be attached to those responses. Our research team includes faculty from different Mason colleges, several research assistants, medical assistants, and trained clinical staff. A list of individuals involved in the study is available at our website. 

What will I get from participating?

  • You will receive $10 gift card for completing the online surveys and another $25 if you complete the in-person visit.
  • Additionally, based upon your diet, exercise, and behaviors, participants will receive feedback on their health which they will receive at the time of their in-person visit.

Can I stop my participation at any time?

Yes. Please email your name and desire to exit the study to in order to make your request.

How long will I participate in the study?

We want to follow you for your first 4 years at Mason.  Each semester we will contact you again. In the spring semesters we will contact you for an online survey (and a chance to get a $10 gift card) and each fall semester we will contact you for an online survey and an in-person visit (and another chance to get a $25 gift card).  Your in-person visit will only occur in the fall semesters and we won’t draw blood again until your last year.

How do I prepare for my in-person visit?

  1. Do not eat or drink anything besides water for 5 hours before your appointment. If you schedule a morning appointment – DO NOT eat anything after midnight. If you schedule an afternoon appointment – do not eat after breakfast for 5 hours before your appointment.
  2. Do not drink caffeine or brush your teeth 1 hour before your appointment.
  3. Avoid alcohol, drugs, caffeine, and strenuous physical activity in the 12 hours before your appointment. 
  4. Do not take vitamins, calcium supplements, or TUMS on the day of your appointment.  
  5. Doing any of the above things will affect your test results.
  6.  Wear lightweight, comfortable clothes to allow for body measurements.
  7. Need to reschedule? Contact our Study Coordinator at right away so we can find another time for you.
  8. Where is Peterson Hall? Peterson Hall is building #44 on the campus map. Please go to the first floor reception area and check in.

Where will my blood, urine and saliva samples be stored?

Your samples will only have your study identification number and not your name. The samples will be stored in special freezers that are located on the Fairfax and Sci-Tech campuses. The laboratories that contain these freezers are certified labs.

Who can I contact if I have questions?

We’re happy to address your questions. Please email us at