First we wrote a questionnaire and set the dates for the examination and taking of blood samples. This is when the first complications arose: We asked ourselves how to motivate 14-20 year olds to partake in our examination. A large hurdle was that in order for the blood work to be meaningful all of the subjects would have to be fasting when their blood was taken. We also wanted to do all of our examinations within three days, or three mornings. Which meant those who would be tested last (10:00) would be quite hungry. Luckily, by all working together we were able to solve all of these "problems".
From Dr. Elmar Aigner, our supporting physician from the hospital in Obendorf, we received a very exact and detailed standard questionnaire for us to collect information on dietary and exercise habits.
This questionnaire was originally meant for female patients suffering from intestinal cancer. Together with medical student Tina Hinz we adapted the questionnaire, during a long night session, for our school and project. Now we only had to print it, which proved however to be consuming of both time and money. So far, all good, but how does one get a teenager to fill out a 20 page questionnaire? We solved this problem, by
getting the first two classes to fill out the questionnaire - after arrangement with their teachers - during the evening study hall.
It was more complicated with the upper classes who have no study halls. Thus we asked teachers for one lesson period, in which we could let the pupils fill out the questionnaire. Thank God, our project was widely supported by the teaching staff. Nevertheless, we were not able to use their lesson periods without some complications, because many teachers had tests scheduled for the hours in which we wished to collect our data.
When we finally counted the number of analyses, we were positively surprised. We had calculated on having 150-200 participants.
However, we had 336 pupils agree to take part in our study, which was nearly all the students of the HLFS, and the director permitted us to use two instructional units per class for the health check.
Because we did not only have to remove blood, but also measure the chest and belly, body weight, blood pressure and perform an ultrasound of the liver, and we also had to take into consideration time for the "reward breakfast".
In order to create as fast a procedure as possible, we did a trial run to predict the amount time that would be necessary. he result of our trial run was that we would need three blood taking and blood pressure measuring stations, because these steps were most time-consuming. Also a second ultrasound station would have been desirable, however the conditions permitted only one.
In order to protect the anonymity of the individual students, we decided to code the data by means of bar codes.
Only if all measuring stations had marked their symbol on their card, could the students exchange their completed cards for a free breakfast. Our system functioned better than expected and we needed less time than was originally anticipated: for one class we needed only approximately 35 minutes.
To our joy 325 pupils (11 were ill) participated.
A substantial assistance to our planning and execution was our new Wiki system, which we tested this year for the first time.
The advantage of such a system consists of the fact that one can access it from anywhere and that it is very user friendly. Our Wiki system was very helpful also in the final phase of our project, since various reports could be worked on and corrected by several people, by means of Internet, at the same time. So we were able to update whole texts quickly and avoid errors.