Mary Grace Flaherty receives fellowship from MLA to study health information use

March 26, 2019

UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) Assistant Professor Mary Grace Flaherty has received a Lindberg Research Fellowship from the Medical Library Association (MLA) to study how information use affects timely diagnosis and health services utilization by patients with the alpha-gal food allergy.

Dr. Mary Grace Flaherty

For the project, titled “Using an Emerging Condition to Understand Health Information Use, Diagnostic Delay and Health Services Utilization,” Flaherty will conduct a content analysis of providers’ clinical notes.

“Results from this study will provide data on patient-provider communication with an emergent condition,” Flaherty said. “It will also afford a better understanding of health communication between patients and clinicians, and how information exchange affects diagnosis and health care utilization.”

Alpha-gal syndrome is a recently identified type of food allergy to red meat. In the United States, the condition most often begins when a Lone Star tick bite transmits a sugar molecule called alpha-gal into the body. In some people, this triggers an immune system reaction that later produces mild to severe allergic reactions when they eat red meat.