Reaching Out to Our Local Community

Ever wonder how research studies recruit participants? At the Columbia Center for Eating Disorders, we use a variety of the usual methods – including hanging flyers in different neighborhoods and posting online. People interested in research participation as a healthy control call us, go through a few basic screening questions, receive some information about our studies, and potentially move forward in the screening process. We are always eager to spread the word about the opportunities to partner with us and make a scientific contribution and to receive treatment and/or compensation along the way. We take our show on the road to health fairs, to physicians’ offices and other treatment programs, and we participate in local street fairs where interested people can receive information about our program and sign up to be called.

We most recently set up a booth at a local Washington Heights street fair on the first Saturday in June. The fair spanned multiple blocks and included food vendors, shops, and other organizations. People from all over the area happily meandered about the various tents, each one presenting something different. To prepare for the day, my colleagues and I prepared flyers, pamphlets, an information poster, and sign-up sheets. We came prepared to answer questions and dispel myths about eating disorders. Our flyers advertised four of our studies (two that involve teens, the other two recruiting adults), and our pamphlets highlighted some of the treatment we offer (for adults and teens) at our clinic. People of all ages passed by our table; some were adults interested in having their children participate, or participating themselves, while others were interested teens and young adults.

To supplement our informational materials, we designed custom-made fun giveaways, like body-positive laptop stickers and hair ties, to display at our table. Additionally, we created hand-outs listing five ways to de-stress:

  1. Phone a friend
  2. Listen to music
  3. Go for a walk
  4. Practice deep breathing
  5. Take a bath

Many passersby stopped to pick up a handout and shared their personal methods for de-stressing. Over the course of the day, it became increasingly clear that people felt connected to our emphasis on health and relaxation.

Whether it was to take one of our giveaways, learn common facts about eating disorders, or hear more about our program and our research mission, it was fantastic to speak with people and hear how they appreciated our primary message: love your body. We really enjoyed the opportunity to display our research, all while getting to know the community and area in which we work.

If you weren’t around to pass by our table but might be interested in participating in one of our studies, give our clinic line a call at (646) 774-8066!

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