9 Reasons Why I Work in Survey Research

by | Nov 9, 2015 | Social Science Business

Anyone who has been in the field of survey research knows how difficult it is to explain to friends and family what exactly it is we do.  I have gotten so caught up with this question sometimes that I forget to consider why I do it – which in its own way helps answer the what question.

So here is why I do survey research:

  1. I like to ask people questions and listen to their responses.
  2. I love learning a little about a lot of different topics.  (In what other field could you be included in publications that range from the topics of vulvodynia to fourth grade alcohol and tobacco use?)
  3. I can directly apply most of what I do in survey research – and learn each day for the rest of my life.
  4. I can step back and look at the forest (society) or dive in close and examine the bark on a single tree (individual behavior) – depending on how I feel each day.
  5. I get to debate things like:  should this measure have a midpoint?  And no matter which way I argue, I am certain to have about 50% support.
  6. I get to apply science (survey research methodology) to the scientific process of my collaborators.
  7. I work on tasks and projects with clear and defined deliverables, providing me with the satisfaction of completion; and I work within the never-ending cycle of the scientific method, always building on previous work.
  8. I get to play with technology.
  9. I work with people who are way smarter than me.

Now, that’s why I do survey research!

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.