Assessing the Feasibility of the Employer as a Health Advisor for Obesity Prevention

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Background/Purpose: Obesity is a risk factor for many different types of cancers. Obesity has become a serious issue affecting millions of Americans, especially in the southern United States. Georgia is one southern state where obesity rates are high, especially in rural areas. Therefore, innovative obesity prevention interventions, such as worksite prevention programs, that target rural communities in the South are needed to address this issue. The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility of the employer as a health advisor for obesity prevention within barbershops in a rural community. This study sought to determine if an obesity prevention education intervention where the owner of the barbershop is trained to educate his barbers using a tailored curriculum about obesity prevention could be implemented in the barbershop setting.

Methods: Twenty in-depth interviews were conducted with the owners (n = 5) and barbers (n = 15) of five African-American owned barbershops in Statesboro, GA, to determine the feasibility of the intervention. This qualitative study used a grounded theory approach where codes were developed from the transcripts and themes emerged and were operationalized into theories.

Results/Findings: The results of this study showed that the owners and barbers all felt that the intervention was feasible and could be implemented in the barbershop. The owners and barbers felt that obesity was an important issue in their community. The owners felt comfortable educating their barbers about obesity prevention, and the barbers were receptive towards the idea of being educated by their employer. They also provided suggestions on how to improve the program.

Discussion: In order for this intervention to be effective, it must be tailored to fit within the barbershop environment. This intervention addresses known health disparities that exist in the African-American community and underscores the need for additional worksite health promotion programs in medically underserved communities.

Learning Objectives: The participant shall be able to identify an innovative avenue for addressing health disparities in the African-American community. The participant shall be able to compare owners’ and barbers’ attitudes and perceptions towards obesity prevention in a rural community.


International Cancer Education Conference (ICEC)


Bethesda, MD