Research Wonder: Response Motivation – Important for Interpretation

by | Sep 7, 2015 | Opinion / Editorial, Research Wonder, Survey Methodology

Could we start to capture the response motivation or motivations that play a role in causing responses so that we may use them in interpreting the data?  

Most agree that people have numerous motivations to participate in research.  In a recent article, Florian Keusch thoroughly details the various reasons why people participate in web surveys.  It is clear that there is no single response motivation — societal characteristics, individual characteristics, and survey characteristics all play a role.  But like most strong literature reviews do, it left me with this…

I wonder if we could start to capture the response motivation(s) that play a role in causing respondents to respond so that we may use them in interpreting the data?  

OK, I know, that’s a big one.  Let me get a bit more specific with this three-part Research Wonder:

I wonder…

If an appreciation for the contribution(s) that scientific studies make towards a society is a characteristic that may influence one’s decision to participate in a survey.

And I wonder…

If we could capture this phenomenon by inviting respondents to follow through with an action (post-survey) that shows their interest in the survey results, for example, suggesting that a respondent could “like” a research study Facebook page or send an email to the study investigator if they are interested in seeing study results when they are available.

And I also wonder…

If this response motivation has an impact on WHO responds, and HOW they respond to the survey.

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.