Can a Haircut and a Shave Save African-Americans from Colon Cancer?

On April 23, 2015, the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health’s Center for Health Equity, in partnership with Cigna Foundation, announced the expansion of its signature HAIR Initiative to Washington, D.C.  The goal of the program is to train barbers and beauticians in black barbershops and beauty salons to deliver health information to their clientele on a number of different topics.   For this project, the focus is colorectal cancer. 

The program was announced at Christopher’s Grooming Lounge, followed by a demonstration of how the program works.    Because barbers and stylists serve as trusted voices in the community, they are effective avenues for the delivery of health information. Through the current HAIR program, barbers and stylists will be trained to be Lay Health Advocates. They will learn about the threat of colorectal cancer to the health of African Americans, and they will be equipped to educate their customers about the disease and the importance of getting preventive screenings beginning at age 45.

A number of media outlets attended the event including the Washington Post, the Washington Informer, WFPW-FM and WNBC-4.  See below for highlights of some of the coverage of the event and for links to the full stories.

Highlights from News Coverage of the HAIR event at Christopher’s Grooming Lounge:

“I am very pleased to be a part of the "HAIR" initiative partnering with the University of Maryland's Center for Health Equity," said Christopher Bradley, owner of Christopher’s Grooming Lounge. “I am even more excited that my staff has the opportunity to add such an important value to the lives of our customers. Discussing health issues can always be a sensitive subject, so it is a great idea to be able to receive life-saving health information from our technicians. It just makes sense because the community trusts us.”

--UMD SPH In the News: M-CHE, Cigna Foundation Launch Innovative D.C. Barbershop Campaign Training Barbers, Stylists to Promote Colorectal Cancer Screening

 Dr. Andrew Sanderson in his interview with ABC News: “We have a higher percentage of African Americans in DC.  And unfortunately African Americans have the highest incidence of colon cancer among all the racial and ethnic groups. 

“I think it’s an excellent idea…in the community, barbers and hair stylists hold a special place.  People come and relax and they are able to talk about anything, from religion to politics.  Why not empower them to talk about their health?”

--WJLA ABC 7: D.C. barbershop holds preventive screening to boost cancer awareness

“Bradley says community members trust their barbers because the shops have always been a gathering place for community members of all ages, making it the perfect place to extend a life-saving message.

‘We raise generations,’ he says. ‘We’ve always raised generations in the barber shop. The son comes here; he may tell his father and bring his son. The impact, it just spreads.’”

--WTOP Health: With HAIR, a trip to the barber shop could save your life