Systematic Review of Barber-administered Health Education and Outreach Programs in African American Communities

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Objective: The barbershop has been portrayed as a culturally appropriate venue for reaching African American 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.

Method: A literature search was conducted to identify articles for the review. Inclusion criteria specified that studies had to be based in the U.S. 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 bibliographic records, and after elimination of articles not meeting inclusion criteria, 35 articles remained for full-text review. The final article sample consisted of 16 articles for full abstraction.

Results: All barbershop-based studies targeted African American men in urban settings. Common study types were cross-sectional studies, feasibility studies, needs assessment studies, and one-shot case studies. Barber-administered interventions addressed primarily prostate cancer and hypertension. Common roles for barbers included health education, screening, and referrals to healthcare. Non-intervention studies focused mostly on surveying or interviewing barbers for assessing feasibility of future intervention studies.

Conclusion: Barbershops are a culturally-appropriate venue for disseminating print and media health education materials, as well as providing education and screening from trained barbers. In studies where barbers received training, their knowledge of various health conditions increased significantly, and they were also able to increase health knowledge and screening among their customers.


American Public Health Association Annual Meeting (APHA)


Boston, MA