Research Wonder: Expression of Gratitude and Survey Quality

by | Oct 5, 2015 | Opinion / Editorial, Research Wonder, Survey Methodology

Neuroscientists have demonstrated that if you ask yourself, “What am I grateful for?”, it will raise dopamine and serotonin in the brain, both of which help boost your mood when you feel down.  You don’t even have to make an expression of gratitude – just simply searching for something has the same effect. Could it have an impact on survey quality?


If a simple expression of gratitude is given during a survey, how might that gratitude impact the other answers in the survey?


Can asking a respondent to express gratitude while reading a survey invitation boost their likelihood to respond to the survey?


How much do inadvertent gratitude expressions or thoughts during survey responses influence the responses themselves?  How does this affect survey quality? Do we need to take care in where we ask questions that may lead to thoughts of gratitude, so that we do not bias the following questions?

What’s a Research Wonder?  Read this to find out…

Currently, the FDA only regulates true direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests, which have no health care provider involved either before or after testing. Consumer-initiated, physician-mediated genetic tests are considered lab developed tests (LDTs), which currently do not require FDA oversight. 


Our Study Design

Our study was designed to simulate the experience of an everyday person who is considering doing a health-related genetic test. For this reason, we only reviewed website contents presented to a consumer before ordering a test. By limiting our data collection to pre-test content, instead of digging around or contacting the companies to fill in missing data points, gaps in public-facing information that consumers use to make ‘informed’ decisions were revealed.  

Also, while a genetic counselor supervised the project, a research assistant (RA) conducted most of the website investigations. The RA was familiar enough with genetics and genetic testing to understand and identify the information presented on the websites, but has not had the clinical exposure that might create bias from knowing how specific tests work “behind-the-scenes”. 


To Sum Up

We set out to understand the landscape of health-related consumer genomics testing from the public perspective. By limiting our research (by design) to public-facing pre-test website content, we could not complete our data collection as set out in the protocol. However, this uncovered an important observation: consumer genomics websites are highly variable in content, readability and ease of use. 

This begs the question, if we can’t find basic test information on a consumer genomics website, how does a consumer have enough information to make an informed choice about testing? 

Stay tuned for Part 2 in this series, where we will dig into our study findings and reveal our most interesting observations.  



As experts in FDA user comprehension studies for consumer genomics companies seeking 510(k) clearance, we are interested in how everyday people access and understand health content that is meant for them. If you need help optimizing your consumer-directed health communications, we’ve got the in-house expertise and experience to meet your needs. Let’s chat

About the Author

Scott D. Crawford

Scott D. Crawford is the Founder and Chief Vision Officer at SoundRocket. He is also often found practicing being a husband, father, entrepreneur, forever-learner, survey methodologist, science writer & advocate, and podcast lover. While he doesn’t believe in reincarnation, he’s certain he was a Great Dane (of the canine type) in a previous life.