The latest state to join forces with health organizations across the country that are using African American barbershops and beauty salons as gateways for health checks and health related resources is New Orleans.
The Prevention Research Center of Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine launched the “Talk Shop” two months ago, using 25 barber shops in a trial run to see if stylists can influence their clients’ health choices.
The center has sent health officials to teach stylists how to talk to their clients about eating habits, exercising, managing blood pressure and other health topics. The program also provides each shop with the “Feel Good Guide: How to Stay Healthy, ” a 28-page booklet that offers advice about healthy living, recipe cards and a listing of free clinics and other services in the New Orleans area.
“The ‘Feel Good Guide’ focuses on the simple things we can all do to improve our health, “ said Lisa Hoffman, the Tulane center’s communications and training coordinator. “It will also draw people’s attention to symptoms that may be indicative of an unknown condition for which medical care is necessary.”
At Danny’s Divine Designs on South Broad Street, customers are handed a guide in the waiting area. Once they hop into a chair, Townsend asks them what they think of the booklet or brings up a topic related to their personal health.
The program primarily targets African-Americans, who are disproportionately affected by heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
“Why not talk about health?” said Ann Bridges, who brings her family to the Broad Street shop once a week. “You talk about everything else.”
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