Friday, December 31, 2010

Research trip to Shanxi

From Monday to Wednesday, I went to another small town (ONLY 270,000 people live there) to oversee the implementation of a survey I made. The big paper I wrote (still being reviewed by JAMA, so the small hope of acceptance is increasing!) is about the diagnostic accuracy of self-collected samples for cervical cancer screening, and how we think it is ideal in low-resource settings. So, I thought a logical next step would be to learn what Chinese women think about self-collection because if they wouldn't want to do it, it's no go.

I arrived at the study site to find my survey already being implemented:I then spent some time watching one of the interviewees conduct the survey, which was a really neat experience.
This site visit was very different than the other ones Sarah and I have been to, since CICAMS had worked there for 11 years and this hospital knew exactly what to do. So, instead of problem shooting, launching new projects, or meeting with foreign researchers to write grants, the CICAMS team took a more peripheral role and only helped the hospital staff occasionally. So I felt less guilty working on another paper while this team did my survey:
(Side note: I don't think I will ever have a group this big working on a project I developed for a long, long time.) To introduce "my" team: the one in the brown vest is the site coordinator, the 4 interviewees are wearing pink, partially blocked by the brown vest, or 3 feet tall, Grace (who translated the survey) is in the back as is Dr. Zhao (glasses), and Shangying is on the end. I am the odd one out here, in gender, ethnicity, height, and clothing, but promise I was not photoshopped in.

At the beginning of every day, Dr. Zhao introduced the study and survey to the 100 participants.
On Wednesday, I was asked to speak to the women as well. After I thanked them for participating for about 30 seconds (in English), the women all applauded, and I was confused until Dr. Zhao said they had only seen foreigners on TV so having yours truly in the flesh was really exciting for them.
Then we went to a super-fancy banquet with a very high-ranking communist party leader and two medical school directors. At this dinner, they had dishes on the lazy susan, but also about 10 courses served to you. And everyone asked me what I thought of every dish, so I had to eat goose liver (delicious), pig head meat (tastes like fatty pork), pig skin gel (blech), grain soup (like soy-sauce-flavored grits), and this fruit that looked like an eyeball (almost as good as lychee) and a small orange that you ate the peel (so yummy also). I also made the mistake of taking a shot of Chinese liquor with the welcome toast because Chinese wine is disgusting, so everyone tried to get me drunk, by toasting me and inviting me to play drinking games. It was pretty fun.

Tomorrow, we're headed up to Harbin for the snow and ice festival! The high is -3 Monday, but it will be worth it.


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