George Mason University
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George Mason University

College launches new student cohort research study “Mason: Health Starts Here” at the Population Health Center

September 17, 2019

Nursing students providing care to patientOn September 17, the College of Health and Human Services kicked-off “Mason: Health Starts Here,” a first-of-its-kind transdisciplinary student cohort study to understand and improve the health of university students. Research will include a longitudinal study of a broad sample of young adults, specifically first-year Mason students, to capture the diversity of their experiences in college and how they affect their physical and behavioral health.

Ongoing student engagement differentiates this research from previous longitudinal studies. Students helped design the study, will be informed about their health status along the way, and will receive guidance for maximizing their health.

The study is central to the tri-part mission of the newly opened Population Health Center: delivering interprofessional clinical care for underserved populations; conducting research of consequence to improve the public’s health; and providing learning and development opportunities for practitioners and students.

Drs. Larry Cheskin and Alison Cuellar are principal investigators on the study.

“The study includes students from diverse backgrounds including racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, and region. This diversity allows researchers to capture a range of experiences during college that affect students’ physical, social, emotional, and cognitive health, and their academic success,” says Lawrence Cheskin, chair of the Nutrition and Food Studies department and interim chair of the Community and Global Health department.

“This research will study a wide range of behaviors, with an initial focus on behavioral health, risky behaviors, social media use, nutrition, physical activity, and environmental health,” says Dr. Alison Cuellar, who oversees the research mission at the Population Health Center.

Freshmen at Mason between age 18-24 and enrolled in fall 2019 in a variety of courses across colleges are invited to take part in this research.  Participants will complete an online health questionnaire and a physical exam. Participating students will receive $50 in compensation and personalized feedback.

The student cohort study is supported by the College of Health and Human Services and Mason’s multidisciplinary Institute for Biohealth Innovation (IBI) whose mission is to advance biohealth research and innovation conducted by Mason faculty and students. Investments in center equipment are supported by Mason’s Equipment Trust Fund. This fund supports the provision of state-of-the-art research infrastructure for use by the university research community.

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