Carbone presents on the Massachusetts BMI letter

December 31, 2012

Elena T. Carbone, Associate Professor of Nutrition, made two presentations based on her study of the Massachusetts Body Mass Index (BMI) letter, titled “Parents’ Responses, Conceptualizations of Weight, and Health Literacy Skills.” On October 13 she spoke to attendees at the Research & Teaching Forum of the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare (AACH) in Providence, RI. Dr. Carbone also made a presentation about her research at the Fourth Annual Health Literacy Annual Research Conference (HARC) in Bethesda, MD, on October 23.

In 2009, Massachusetts became the 16th state to pass Body Mass Index (BMI)-related legislation.  As mandated, during 2010-2011, school nurses began collecting height and weight data of 1st, 4th, 7th, and 10th graders; calculating their BMIs; and mailing a BMI screening report (BMISR) with each student’s results to parents/caregivers.  Parents of overweight children are urged to contact their primary care providers. Parents’ ability to understand the BMISR is vital, but to date there has been no substantive evaluation of how this information is or should be communicated by school nurses, how well it is understood by parents, or actions parents plan to take resulting from the information they receive. Dr. Carbone’s research examines the way people attend to and process information and make behavioral decisions as a result of the information they receive.

The Research & Teaching Forum is an annual gathering sharing research relevant to AACH’s mission of improving healthcare by enhancing communication among clinicians and throughout teams of healthcare professionals. HARC is a gathering where health literacy researchers convene to develop the field of health literacy, increase the quality of research in the field, and meet other professionals interested in health literacy. This interdisciplinary meeting of professions includes researchers in public health, health services, epidemiology, and translational and interventional research.