141st APHA Annual Meeting

In This section

Improving school-to-parent communication about pediatric overweight/obesity with a tailored BMI report card: Using segmentation analysis to define a typology of parents/guardians and perceptual mapping methods for message development

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 5:30 PM - 5:50 PM

Dominique G. Ruggieri, Ph.D. , Department of Health Services, Saint Joseph's University, Philadelphia, PA
Sarah Bauerle Bass, Ph.D., MPH , Department of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Thomas F. Gordon, Ph.D. , Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA
School-based body mass index (BMI) screenings and report cards have been shown to improve parents' recall and increase concern about their child's weight. These benefits may be better realized if parents have knowledge about BMI measures, positive perceptions of screening programs, and trust in their child's school and nurse; all of these issues can be addressed with a well-tailored BMI report card. We report on a project that developed a tailored BMI report card for a large urban school district. Perceived risks and benefits of school-based BMI screenings and report cards (derived from focus groups) were used to develop a survey completed by 105 parents/guardians. A segmentation (cluster) analysis revealed a typology of 4 distinct clusters of parents/guardians: “Passive Parents” (25.7%), “Neutral Parents” (19.0%), “Confident Advocates” (28.6%) and “Active Worriers” (26.7%). Unlike previous research, which has only examined differences in parents' perceptions about BMI screenings and report cards by demographic variables, we used chi-squares, ANOVAs, and perceptual maps to identify each cluster's unique perceptions. Vector message design analyses were then used with the perceptual maps to develop optimal messages for each type of parent/guardian (e.g. “Only the school nurse, your child, and you have access to your child's health results.”). The combination of methods to define the types of parents/guardians and to develop messages for a tailored BMI report card demonstrates an innovative approach to improve school-to-parent communication about students' weight status. These methods can be applied to a broad range of other health issues and public health campaign design.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the differences among parents/guardians of children at-risk for pediatric overweight/obesity by key variables related to their perceptions of BMI measures, screening programs, and report cards rather than by demographic variables. Identify salient messages related to BMI measures and screening programs that can improve school-to-parent communication about these topics. Discuss a unique methodology for pediatric overweight/obesity prevention message strategies.

Keywords: Obesity, Health Communications

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I designed and completed the study as described in the abstract. I am trained in behavioral health and health communication, and have experience in implementing disease prevention and treatment programs, as well as developing tailored health communication materials for diverse groups and health issues.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.