Posts tagged: Harvard Prevention Research Center

Harvard Prevention Research Center and Steven L. Gortmaker Collections Open to Research

By , June 29, 2017
Fitness Folder, from the Harvard Prevention Research Center's Planet Health Curriculum.

Fitness Folder, from the Harvard Prevention Research Center’s Planet Health Curriculum. P-DT08.01, Series 00598. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of two collections: the records of the Harvard Prevention Research Center (HPRC) and the papers of the HPRC’s Director, Steven L. Gortmaker.

The Harvard Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity was founded in 1998 at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, to work with community and governmental organizations in the research, development, and implementation of school- and community-based youth intervention programs to encourage better health habits. The HPRC has conducted a number of intervention research projects, including: the randomized control trial of the Planet Health curriculum, which is used in middle schools to teach healthy decision making about nutrition, exercise, and leisure activities; and the Play Across Boston project, which surveyed and evaluated the availability of afterschool fitness programs for Boston-area youth, and studied how access and individual family characteristics influence youth physical activity.

The HPRC records include administrative records and research data for both Planet Health and Play Across Boston. Planet Health records include student fitness questionnaires, television viewing worksheets and graphs, financial records, Wellness Workshops administrative records, and student participation records. Play Across Boston records include: student surveys (concerning health and exercise habits, demographics, access to fitness programs, and other topics); and fitness program provider surveys (concerning program details, cost and accessibility, and participant numbers and demographics).

Steven L. Gortmaker.

Steven L. Gortmaker, M-AD06. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

In addition to directing the HPRC, Steven L. Gortmaker is Professor of the Practice of Health Sociology in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. His research focuses primarily on the health and mortality risks affecting children and adolescents (particularly low-income and minority), and interventions for mitigating those risks. He served as Principal Investigator on a number of HPRC initiatives, including Planet Health, Play Across Boston, the Out of School Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative (OSNAP), and is also Co-Director of the Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost-Effectiveness Study (CHOICES). In 1997, he was awarded the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research.

Gortmaker’s papers comprise his research and teaching records generated during his career. The collection includes research data and administrative records from a number of projects, including: an obesity research project using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Rural Infant Care Program; and organ donation research for the Partnership for Organ Donation. The papers also include Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health teaching records for courses related to HIV, social behavior, and statistics.

The collections were processed as part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources. For more information on the project, please contact the project’s principal investigator, Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Deputy Director of the Center for the History of Medicine.

More information on the collections may be found in their online finding aids: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HMS.Count:med00242 (Harvard Prevention Research Center Records); and http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HMS.Count:med00243  (Steven L. Gortmaker papers).

Staff Finds: “Keeping Osteoporosis off Your Back!” and “Fruit and Vegetable Blackjack”: Planet Health Workshops and Their Materials

By , May 16, 2017
The correct answer and decoy pieces for Inactivity: Beat Your Neighbor.” According to these materials, the average sixth or seventh grader daily spends 8.9 hours sleeping, 6.5 hours sitting outside of class, 5 hours sitting in class, 2.3 hours standing, and 1.4 hours being active.

The correct answer and decoy pieces for Inactivity: Beat Your Neighbor.” According to these materials, the average sixth or seventh grader daily spends 8.9 hours sleeping, 6.5 hours sitting outside of class, 5 hours sitting in class, 2.3 hours standing, and 1.4 hours being active.

In the mid-1990s, the Harvard Prevention Research Center (HPRC) conducted workshops at schools in the Boston metropolitan area as part of its implementation of a randomized control trial of Planet Health, a middle-school-based interdisciplinary wellness curriculum. One series of workshops provided training to introduce teachers to Planet Health, but another series was specifically aimed at promoting wellness for teachers and staff, and included a workshop entitled “Keeping Osteoporosis off Your Back!” Center staff found records of these workshops, as well as game pieces used in workshop activities, while processing the records of the HPRC.

The wellness workshops for teachers and staff were offered as part of the Planet Health curriculum in 1997. “Fitness After 25” discussed the physiological and psychological changes that take place in the body after a person turns 25. A four-week-long course on stress management investigated ways stress can be used advantageously and also taught stress-reduction techniques and exercises. “Keeping Osteoporosis off Your Back” offered instruction on how to build and maintain stronger bones for the participants as well as their families and students. Participants received professional development points for attending each workshop. In addition to these workshops, the program organized a walking group that met once a week for seven weeks at each of the participating schools.

The workshops that teachers attended to learn about that year’s Planet Health curriculum and its thematic units included many different activities, which may also have been used in the classroom with students. Staff found pieces for a game called “Inactivity: Beat Your Neighbor,” cards for a concentration game called “Concentrate on Fat Facts,“ cards for a game called “Fruit and Vegetable Blackjack,” as well as a variety of food models used for games about nutrition.

In “Inactivity: Beat Your Neighbor,” teams received a set of puzzle pieces that listed different amounts of time the average sixth or seventh grader spent sleeping, sitting in class, sitting outside of class, standing, and being active daily. Teams were instructed to choose the pieces that added up to a pie chart with the correct amounts of time. In “Concentrate on Fat Facts,” teams played concentration with a twist: matching a question card with the correct answer card.  In “Fruit and Vegetable Blackjack,” teams answered questions about fruits, vegetables, and general nutrition for points, trying to get as close to 21 points as possible.

Apple pie and applesauce food models. According to the models, apple pie has 327mg of sodium; applesauce has 4mg.

Apple pie and applesauce food models. According to the models, apple pie has 327mg of sodium; applesauce has 4mg.

The food models were used for several different games about nutrition. In one game, players chose the food with the higher sodium content from a series of pairs: ground beef and a hot dog; apple pie and applesauce; a tortilla and tortilla chips. In another game using the hot dog, peanut butter, ground beef, fish sticks, roast beef, halibut, and navy beans food models, players arranged the models in order of highest to lowest fat content. In a third game, players matched a variety of food models (with their nutrition information covered) to their corresponding nutritional value cards (with the food names covered).

The Planet Health curriculum was first developed in 1995 and continues today to give middle school students the knowledge and tools to make good decisions about their nutrition and physical fitness. The HPRC, now called The Harvard Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Harvard School of Public Health, was founded in 1998 in Boston, Massachusetts to work with local, community, and governmental organizations to research, develop, implement, and refine school- and community-based youth intervention programs to encourage better health habits among youth. Its programs particularly focus on improving nutrition and exercise habits in order to lower the risk of obesity and chronic disease in children and youth.

The HPRC collection is expected to be open to research in the spring of 2017. For information regarding access to this collection, please contact Public Services staff. Processing of the collection is part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). For more information on the project, please contact the project’s Principal Investigator, Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Deputy Director of the Center for the History of Medicine.

Staff Finds: Planet Health Curriculum Materials

By , May 10, 2017
Planet Health Power Down button, from the Harvard Prevention Research Center’s Planet Health Curriculum. P-DT08.01, Series 00598.

Planet Health Power Down button, from the Harvard Prevention Planet Health Power Down button, from the Harvard Prevention Research Center’s Planet Health Curriculum. P-DT08.01, Series 00598. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

While processing the records of The Harvard Prevention Research Center (HPRC), Center staff found a variety of educational materials produced for the Planet Health curriculum in the mid-1990s. The project began in 1995 and today continues to produce curriculum for middle school teachers and physical education teachers to teach healthy decision-making regarding nutrition, exercise, and leisure activities, while also supporting learning in traditional subject areas.

The interactive worksheets and handouts found include a FitCheck score sheet and a Fitness Folder. The FitCheck score sheet first asked students to calculate their “Fit Score” and “Sit Score” by adding up how much time they spent doing physical activities like sports, chores, or walking to school and how much time they spent sitting down watching TV and playing video games.  Then, students set a goal to be more active or to stay active and wrote how they would achieve it. Fitness Folders contained multiple FitCheck sheets, pages to write year-long goals, and examples of goals and activities to help achieve them.

Center staff also found a button and curriculum materials that were produced for the program’s Power Down initiative. Students who participated in the Power Down program pledged to watch less than two hours of TV per day (including watching movies or playing video games) for one week, and then kept track of how well they adhered to their pledge. In addition to worksheets for tracking TV consumption, items found include an Alternative Activities sheet that provided a list of ideas for things to do instead of watching TV. The majority of these ideas were compiled by a group of seventh graders and include activities such as bowling, four-square, listening to music, jujitsu, walking the dog, and yoga. However, the list includes some unexpected ideas, such as having a party, having a pillow fight, playing Mouse Trap, redecorating, shoveling snow, visiting a farm, and yodeling.

The HPRC, now called The Harvard Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Harvard School of Public Health, was founded in 1998 in Boston, Massachusetts to work with local, community, and governmental organizations to research, develop, implement, and refine school- and community-based youth intervention programs to encourage better health habits among youth. Its programs particularly focus on improving nutrition and exercise habits, in order to lower the risk of obesity and chronic disease in children and youth.

The collection is expected to be open to research in the spring of 2017. For information regarding access to this collection, please contact Public Services staff. Processing of the collection is part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). For more information on the project, please contact the project’s Principal Investigator, Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Deputy Director of the Center for the History of Medicine.

Processing of the Harvard Prevention Research Center Records

By , March 29, 2017
Fitness Folder, from the Harvard Prevention Research Center's Planet Health Curriculum.

Fitness Folder, from the Harvard Prevention Research Center’s Planet Health Curriculum. P-DT08.01, Series 00598. From the Harvard Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The Center is pleased to announce that the records of the Harvard Prevention Research Center (HPRC), 1992-2003, are currently being processed as part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project. The Harvard Prevention Research Center at the Harvard School of Public Health (as of 2014, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health), was founded in 1998. The Center works with local, community, and government organizations to research, develop, implement, and refine school- and community-based youth intervention programs to encourage better health habits among youth. Programs particularly focus on improving nutrition and exercise habits, in order to lower the risk of obesity and chronic disease in children and youth. As of 2016, the Center is nested under the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Steven L. Gortmaker (born 1949) serves as Principal Investigator and Director, and Angie Cradock is the Deputy Director.

The collection is a product of two research projects and educational interventions developed and implemented by the Harvard Prevention Research Center under the direction of Steven Gortmaker: Planet Health (1995-), funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a university gift; and the Play Across Boston project (1999-2001), funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Planet Health is a middle-school-based wellness curriculum developed for use by teachers and physical education instructors to teach healthy decision-making regarding nutrition, exercise, and leisure activities, while also supporting learning in traditional subject areas. Planet Health records, dated 1992-1997, were developed during the randomized control trial conducted to produce the curriculum, and include: student activity and diet worksheets; teacher and student focus group transcripts and recordings; wellness workshop records; student-made activity graphs; analyzed data; and research administrative records. Play Across Boston was a collaborative initiative with Northeastern University’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society, to survey and evaluate the availability of after-school fitness activity programs for Boston-area youth, and to determine how both access to these resources and individual family characteristics influence youth physical activity. The project surveyed youth participation in 237 programs in the greater Boston area. Play Across Boston records are dated 2000-2003, and consist of: student surveys regarding participation in organized physical activity outside of school hours; and fitness program provider surveys concerning details of program offerings and student participation during the school year and summer vacation months.

The collection is expected to be open to research in 2017. Processing of the collection is part of the Bridging the Research Data Divide project, funded by a Hidden Collections grant administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). For more information on the project, please contact the project’s Principal Investigator, Emily R. Novak Gustainis, Deputy Director of the Center for the History of Medicine.

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