Implications for the Effectiveness of the Barbershop Model in the Health Promotion of African American Men

The barbershop has been used to target African American (AA) men across age groups for health screenings, health interventions, and for research. However, few studies explore the sociodemographic characteristics of barbers and their clients. Additionally, few have evaluated the client’s relative comfort with receiving health information and screenings in barbershops and other non-clinical settings. Lastly, it is unknown whether barbers feel capable of influencing health-decision making of AA men. AA male clients and barbers completed a self-administered survey in barbershops in predominantly AA neighborhoods throughout Chicago, Illinois. We assessed sociodemographic characteristics and attitudes towards receiving physical and mental health education and screenings in barbershops and other settings. Barbers were also surveyed regarding their most and least common clients by age group and their perceived ability to influence the decision-making of AA males by age group. AAs surveyed in barbershops have similar rates of high school completion, poverty and unemployment as the AA residents of their neighborhood.

AA males prefer to receive health education and screening in clinician offices followed by barbershops and churches.

Barbers reported serving males age 18–39 years of age most frequently while men 50 years and older were the least served group. Overall, barbers did not believe they could influence the decision-making of AA men and in the best case scenario, only 33 % felt they could influence young men 18–29 years old. Barbershops reach AA men that are representative of the demographics of the neighborhood where the barbershop is located. Barbers reach a small population of men over age 49 and feel incapable of influencing the decisions of AAs over age 39. Further studies are needed to assess other locales for accessing older AA men and to evaluate the feasibility of mental health interventions and screenings within the barbershop.