Survey Sciences Group, LLC: Our Story – Part 2

by | Jul 16, 2015 | Business Leadership, Events, News

Survey Sciences Group, LLC: The best of both worlds

Having made it successfully through my long first post (read part 1 now if you missed it), I promise to keep it more concise today.  The topic today makes it easy, as it has been clear to me since well before the Survey Sciences Group was formed.

The world of survey research suffers from a fear of change (for a nice piece on this see Reg Baker’s posts part 1, part 2).  This plays out in particular in the world of academic research, where there also exists an insane desire to reinvent the wheel for each study.  As a result, academic research is often needlessly cumbersome, inefficient, and wasteful of resources.

Our commercial counterpart in market research may adapt to changing technologies better, but there exists much difficulty in keeping up with the growing science of survey methodology.  Attention to quality and the scientific method is often lacking – with case counts, speed, and costs driving decisions.

I founded the Survey Sciences Group, LLC  in 2004 to address this discrepancy.  We focused our attention on serving academic researchers and addressed their need for quality and solid survey methodology.  And we brought to the table an innovative and flexible organization, with the efficiencies of the commercial world.  We became experts in web-based survey methodology and implementation.  As we grew, we further innovated with a business model of distributed funding to survey research that made previously impossible research possible.

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.