Barbers as lay health advocates–developing a prostate cancer curriculum.


Fraser M1, Brown H, Homel P, Macchia RJ, LaRosa J, Clare R, Davis-King D, Collins P, Samuel T, Macalino G, Browne RC.



The purpose of this study was to develop and test the efficacy of a prostate health curriculum designed to train African American and Afro Caribbean barbers to deliver prostate cancer control messages to their customers.


The curriculum was drafted from information obtained from needs assessment surveys administered to barbers and customers from various barbershops in Brooklyn, New York. Focus groups were conducted to further inform the curriculum, which was pilot tested in training sessions.


The high incidence of late-stage diagnosis prostate cancer in African Americans has often been attributed to lack of screening. In surveys administered to 92 customers and 19 barbers, only 26% of customers and 42% of barbers reported having some knowledge of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening test. More than 90% of the barbers expressed a willingness to obtain prostate cancer information to specifically share with their customers, and 83% of customers expressed an interest in obtaining prostate cancer information and willingness to receive that information from their barbers. Following the pilot training, barber knowledge of prostate cancer increased significantly (p < .0001).


This pilot study suggests that there is a need for intervention programs that will raise awareness and increase prostate health knowledge and behavior in communities with elevated incidence of prostate cancer. The study further suggests that barbers are willing to use their leadership skills to educate and encourage their customers to engage in informed decision making.

J Natl Med Assoc. 2009 Jul;101(7):690-7.

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