The Health Advocates In-Reach and Research (HAIR), is a community-based intervention developed by Dr. Stephen B. Thomas and a team of researchers from the Maryland Center for Health Equity at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health in College Park. The primary aim of HAIR is to create an infrastructure to engage barbershops and beauty salons in Prince George’s County as culturally relevant portals for health education and delivery of public health and medical services in the community.


HAIR builds upon the rich and powerful history of barbers and beauticians as trusted entrepreneurs providing essential services to the African American community.  Barbershops and beauty salons also represent private sector business partners dedicated to improving the quality of life in the neighborhoods they serve.  Medical and public health research has proven that barbershops and beauty salons can be mobilized as venues for delivery of health promotion and disease prevention services designed to eliminate health disparities and advance health equity. 

HAIR Service and Research Activities:

Promoting Colorectal Cancer Screening

With financial support from the Cigna Foundation, we have established a program promoting colorectal cancer screening and increasing awareness about colorectal cancer, a leading cause of disability and premature death in the African American community, in the HAIR network shops.

Through this funding, we have been able to:

  1. Expand the HAIR network to 8 barbershops and 2 beauty salons
  2. Provide formal training for barbers and stylists to be Lay Health Advocates to promote colorectal cancer screening to their clients.
  3. Train a team of Genetic Counselors to become more culturally confident so they can conduct Family Health Histories (FHH) with people in the HAIR barber shops and beauty salons.
  4. Establish a sustainable model to transform both the barber shops and beauty salons into health promotion and disease prevention venues where medical and public health professionals are invited to deliver life-saving services.

For more on the Colorectal Cancer Screening Promotion, click here.

Health and Wellness Screenings

Since February 2015, M-CHE has partnered with Adventist HealthCare’s Center for Health Equity & Wellness (CHEW) to provide blood pressure, carbon monoxide and body composition screenings directly to barbers, stylists and their customers during shop business hours. Between February and October 2015, 209 blood pressure screenings; 156 carbon monoxide screenings; and 63 body composition screenings were conducted by CHEW.

Sisters Healthy and Physically Empowered (SHAPE)

This study aims to describe the health status, health behavior support and the physical activity support networks of African American women. These networks will then be examined to determine if vary by age. Finally, we will assess whether African American women who are active have more supportive physical activity networks compared to women who are less active.

Recruitment for this research project was conducted in the HAIR network barbershops.

For more information on our SHAPE project click here.

Public Understanding of Medical Countermeasures in Public Health Emergency

This pilot study funded by the FDA utilized the HAIR network to recruit participants.  The goal of this project is to explore public understanding of FDA communications and knowledge of FDA terminology and examine public response to research on medical countermeasures in the context of a public health emergency.

For more on this project click here.

Black Men’s Health Initiative (BMH)

The Black Men’s Health Initiative included interviewing Black men to assess their knowledge, attitudes and beliefs toward participation in research, family health, fatherhood, and other topics related to physical and mental health well-being.

Recruitment for this research project was conducted in the HAIR network barbershops.

For more on the BHM Initiative, click here.

Flu Vaccine Study

The broad purpose of this study is to uncover new factors responsible for lower immunization rates in African American adults and test the effectiveness of new communication materials to increase routine and emergency immunization.

Recruitment for this research project was conducted in the HAIR network barbershops.

For more information on the Vaccine Study, click here.

Oral Bacteria Study

We teamed up with an external team of researchers within our School of Public Health to implement a study examining the differences in levels of oral bacteria between tobacco users and non-tobacco users.

Recruitment for this research project was conducted in the HAIR network barbershops.