Qualitative Systematic Review of Barber-Administered Health Education, Promotion, Screening, and Outreach Programs in African-American Communities

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Community Health




The barbershop has been portrayed as a culturally appropriate venue for reaching Black men with health information and preventive health screenings to overcome institutional and socio-cultural barriers. The purpose of this review is to synthesize the peer-reviewed literature on barbershop-based health programs to provide lessons learned for researchers and practitioners. A literature search was conducted to identify articles for the review. Inclusion criteria specified that studies had to be based in the United States and reported about research where barbers were either being assessed for the feasibility of their participation or recruited to administer health education/screening outreach or research activities. The literature search produced 901 unique bibliographic records from peer-reviewed publications. After eliminating articles not meeting the inclusion criteria, 35 articles remained for full-text review. The final article sample consisted of 16 articles for complete abstraction to assess characteristics of studies, role and training of barbers, outcomes targeted, effectiveness, and key findings. All barbershop-based studies reviewed targeted Black men in urban settings. Common study designs were cross-sectional studies, feasibility studies, needs assessments, and one-shot case studies. Barber administered interventions addressed primarily prostate cancer and hypertension, and barbers provided health education, screening, and referrals to health care. Nonintervention studies focused mostly on surveying or interviewing barbers for assessing the feasibility of future interventions. Barbershops are a culturally appropriate venue for disseminating health education materials in both print and media formats. Barbershops are also acceptable venues for training barbers to conduct education and screening. In studies where barbers received training, their knowledge of various health conditions increased significantly and knowledge gains were sustained over time. They were also able to increase knowledge and promote positive health behaviors among their customers, but these outcomes were variable and not consistently documented.