Thursday, March 18, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different ...

Some of you may have noticed that I can be pretty opinionated. And I'm only rarely shy about sharing my opinions.

So one of my favorite things to do has been to participate in focus groups. Getting paid to share my opinions -- how can there be a down side? I actually had a blast pre-mystery illness at a focus group for the IRS on how to simplify tax documents. (They clearly did not listen to our input! Or at least haven't implemented it yet... but they paid $125 in cash at the end of the evening!)

These days I can't commit to the two-hour local focus groups, which tend to be held in the evening on the other side of Portland. So I've enjoyed occasionally participating in online versions. Yes, there's usually a small bit of compensation, but it's never been about the money for me.

I started participating sometime last year in a group called WEGO that is aimed at "health activists," people who blog, tweet, Facebook, etc., on heathcare issues. I think it was Jenni of ChronicBabe who tweeted about a survey on WEGO that people who qualified for the full survey would get an Amazon gift certificate, maybe $10? Who wouldn't be up for that? I trusted her that it WEGO was a legitimate group, and I was pleased when I got the email with my Amazon code. (I think the topic was on allergies ... but it's been long enough that I haven't a clue.)

I ended up registering on WEGO, and participated in my first "insight group" a few months back. Essentially, it was a focus group held online. Participants needed to be able to be on a conference call and logged into a website to see the slides, all at the same time.

It's fun, even if it tires me out.

So when I got an email asking for volunteers for another WEGO "insight group" regarding DNA testing that can be done from one's home, I thought it sounded intriguing. Instead of the usual Amazon gift certificate, this time the compensation involves a free DNA test, which they currently list on their website as retailing for $400.

I'm kind of excited about it. I participated the conference call last week, and am now waiting to receive my test kit from Pathway Genomics, which should arrive any day now. It will take four to six weeks for the results.

When I browsed the list of diseases/conditions they will test me for, I already know my results on a number of them, thanks to genetic testing I had done when pregnant with my daughter. (As an Ashkenazi Jew, there's a number of scary things I could have carried genes for. Luckily for Ellie, I didn't.)

But it will be interesting to see what, exactly, comes back on my report, which I will undoubtedly share here on my blog.

One of the more interesting things the company promises to provide is information on my DNA's drug reactions and adverse reactions. In some ways, I think that potentially will be the most valuable information I get out of it.

I'm also looking forward to seeing what the genealogy report comes back looking like.


Anonymous said...

Getting paid for doing nothing. Amazing....wish we could all do that.

Aviva said...

Anyone can. It's just a matter of getting your name/contact info in with local marketing research companies. The catch, however, is that most of them won't let you into a focus group more than once every six months. So it can be fun $$$, if you have the energy to spend a couple hours in a meeting room, but it's not a way to earn a living for anyone but the folks on staff (most of whom don't make more than minimum wage, at least here in PDX).

And if you're interested in health issues, you can sign up at WEGO. The link is in the blog post. I don't get a referral fee or anything.