Parents of kids with chronic conditions know how difficult it can be to get answers. From the time they first suspect their child has an issue, to multiple visits to the pediatrician to picking up medications at the pharmacy — parents have to advocate for their children every step of the way. Parents of kids with diabetes, asthma, autism spectrum disorder, allergies and all kinds of chronic conditions can have their voices heard by participating in market research, says Sarah Barrett of Focuscope, a Chicago-based independent research firm.
“We are always looking to connect with families that have a child who suffers from a chronic illness to register for market research studies with us,” says Barrett. A family-run business since the 1970s, Focuscope connects companies with customers and potential customers who can provide valuable feedback on a variety of products, services, even packaging. These companies use this feedback to better meet the needs of their customers.
Focuscope projects can help create change
Many people recognize market research companies for their role in creating focus groups that watch a commercial or taste a potato chip, then provide feedback that helps the company make adjustments to better suit their potential audience. Nowhere is this more important than when it relates to the needs of kids with chronic conditions.
“My child once had a recurring ear infection and he really didn’t like the primary flavor of medicine that we were given. It turns out that the antibiotic was mixed with bubblegum-flavored syrup at the pharmacy. And that was just not the flavor for him,” Barrett recalls. When she went to the pharmacy to find out what she could do, she learned that there were 12 different flavors. The fact that bubblegum isn’t automatically favored by kids is valuable information that parents can share.
Earn money while helping others
Focuscope projects are varied and interesting and offer financial incentives that range from $50 to $350, depending on the project and the time commitment, Barrett says. Parents can register for online or in-person projects and Focuscope has strict privacy rules. “All data is kept internally and is never sold to any third party companies. Once a project is completed all data received is destroyed,” Barrett says.
Participants learn upfront the dates and times and financial incentives for a particular project and can opt in or out, depending on their availability. “We understand that people have family commitments or health issues and they can say it’s not a good time for them and we will call back at a different time. We are proud of our high level of customer service,” she adds.
Projects might involve sharing feedback on medication delivery methods, product packaging or personal experiences when it comes to health conditions. Some projects can be done through a video meeting service like Zoom while others take place in-person at one of two Focuscope offices in Chicago and suburban Oak Brook.
While all projects are different, many projects relate in some way to families with a child who has a chronic health condition.
“A chronic condition is something that is being treated regularly by a physician, like diabetes, asthma or a plethora of illnesses or diseases, from the common to the very rare,” Barrett explains. “A lot of the projects are not geared toward one specific condition, but to a variety of conditions.”
Barrett says that families are generally very appreciative of the opportunity to have their voices, opinions and preferences heard — and the financial incentives are welcome, too.
“This is a great opportunity for parents to tell their story,” Barrett says. “They have so much information to share and they can also make some money participating in some very interesting projects.”