Graduate Student Collaborates with SoundRocket on Survey Creation and Data Collection for Thesis Paper

by | Oct 14, 2021 | Collaborators, Higher Education, Innovative Methodologies, Survey Methodology, Survey Operations, Survey Research

The piece that has made my thesis and my study unique is being able to survey a representative sample of the U.S. population. This was made possible because of SoundRocket,” says Gabi.

Gabriela (Gabi) Wen Hsuan Chen is currently a graduate student at the University of Michigan. With an undergrad degree in genetics and genomics from the University of Wisconsin, Gabi is now pursuing a dual degree in genetic counseling and public health.

“My graduate thesis is about understanding why people seek genetic counseling services and what barriers might prevent them from doing so,” says Gabi.

As she mapped out her research, Gabi says she really wanted to develop a survey that involved a representative sample of the U.S. population—not an easy task for a graduate student.

“With a random survey that you create on your own, you don’t have control over who responds, when they respond, or how many people reply,” says Gabi. “I really wanted a representative sample in my thesis, and my advisor suggested I contact SoundRocket.”

SoundRocket’s Areas of Practice

Gabi said the SoundRocket team listened to her needs, provided input on survey methodology, and mentored her. “They took care of the recruitment portion of my survey and the data collection. They really helped me understand the methodology behind social science studies.”

SoundRocket helps the early career scientist – including faculty in their first few years post-PhD, postdocs, graduate students, and even undergraduate students, with their survey needs. 

What helped Gabi the most? “The piece that has made my thesis and my study unique is being able to survey a representative sample of the U.S. population. This was made possible because of SoundRocket,” she says.

Working with SoundRocket’s Team of Experts

Gabi says the entire process of working with SoundRocket was both educational and smooth. “The entire team communicated well,” adds Gabi. “We met over Zoom, and we were always on the same page in terms of what was expected of me and what was expected of the team.”

So, where is Gabi now with her thesis? “I’ll be spending the rest of the semester looking through data and analyzing!”

Learn More

SoundRocket collaborates with early career scientists, individual researchers, academic institutions, government agencies as well as public companies. The company’s client list is highly dynamic.

Schedule a 30-minute consultation with a SoundRocket expert today to see how we can help with your next study.

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

Gina Chiri-Osmond

Gina Chiri-Osmond is a freelance writer and editor with interests in the science, medical, and health industries. Currently located in Iowa, but yearning to hit the mountains, Gina has also lived in St. Louis, MO; Redondo Beach, CA; and Rochester, MN. In her spare time, she enjoys playing and coaching volleyball, learning Spanish, and fixing typos on restaurant menus.