So I whipped in and went straight upstairs and instantly introduced myself, and I was amazed actually, because it was a big open hall and, but terribly quiet and organised with loads and loads of people around, and enough people instantly to be able to greet you, so there was no waiting at all. They made, they were really nice people all the way through this whole experience, the people were lovely, and they said, they explained what you needed to do. They explained that it would be, you would have to fill some forms in, and then you go and sit down, and then you have to, they show you on a mock-up one, that you’ve got a button that you press, and that you’ve got an interactive screen in front of you. And then at one particular point there’s some headphones you take off and put on, and they said that lots and lots of people would be doing this and indeed, you can see them all the way down the thing, all sitting in a row. And so then they said, “Are you ready to get started?” And they give you some practice ones. And so then I got going.
And they ask you all sorts of questions about yourself, and there are some where you think, “Oh, God. This is very personal.” And then you have to remind yourself that this is about research, that you have to have confidence in the confidentiality and that actually, if enough people answer these questions we are going to get a picture about our population, and that if we can do that, we can understand what the different factors that influence their health and their lifestyle are doing. And it will better enable us to improve the health of the population, which of course is what research is all about. So it is an honour to be involved in doing something like this.
It didn’t matter what I said as long as I was honest, when it’s so easy on questions about your sexual health or your immunisation or all those sorts of things to think, “Oh God, I don’t want to say this.” But all the way through it they let you have bits where you say, “I’d rather not answer these questions.” So it’s fine, I think, to take part.
Yes, it’s very tempting to exaggerate where you know it’s good to do it and underplay it when it’s good not to, like the alcohol. But I just thought, “What’s the point of doing research and not being honest?” And, and, as I say, you have to you have to think unless we give honest answers here it’s not going to help the research. And when it comes to things like your blood test, then you can’t fake that, so why fake the other parts of it, which you could do. So I was actually completely honest, and although I - I had a phase in my life when I was very active, I’m not now. So it would have been nice to have been asked, “Has your exercise pattern changed over the last x years? And are you doing more now or less now?” But it didn’t. So it isn’t an exercise, it isn’t - you have to take it on the spirit that it, no one’s testing you. This is about your lifestyle that, and therefore it’s important that you give a reasonable answer to, that represents your lifestyle.
This issue of trust in the confidentiality, how far do you think that’s because you work where you do that you feel more trust in how the data will be used?
I suppose it is, but you wouldn’t turn up if you didn’t trust that it would be used in the right way. Those people that don’t believe in it would be not the people that would participate. So to get them through the front door, you’ve got to have people - mind you, I didn’t know it would be asking the level of detail it did until I did get in the door. So - but then, as I said,