The NHS Race and Health Observatory is backing an innovative project to empower hairdressers and beauty salon therapists to promote the uptake of NHS Health Checks and promote breast cancer awareness amongst diverse female clientele.
In London, less than half of women invited for NHS Health Checks to diagnose risk of heart diseases take up the invitation, with approximately six in 10 eligible women attending breast cancer screenings. As part of the collaborative ‘BELONG’ study, researchers from King’s College London are working with primary care healthcare professionals including GPs, nurses, healthcare assistants and salon owners to develop customised content for a new tailored, NHS online health tool.
Funded by the National Institute for Health Research, the study will see local Black and Asian hair and beauty salons working in partnership with local GP practices in South and West London to promote a culturally adapted version of a free, online App (Dr IQ), to promote heart health and raise breast cancer awareness in women of all ages.
So far, nine salons – located in Brixton, Streatham and Hammersmith – have signed up and will participate in discussions around the app design, proposed content and feasibility around utilising hair and beauty salon premises.
Co-Investigator, Dr Veline Dr L’Esperance, a clinical advisor to the Observatory, said:
“Hairdressers and beauty salon therapists are in a prime position to chat with their customers and staff about the importance of health checks and can simply signpost the app so eligible women are reminded to book a free NHS Health Checks and get answers to any queries, signs or symptoms. It is important we address health inequalities and this targeted intervention can help us improve uptake of NHS Health Checks among women from ethnically diverse parts of London.”
From February 2023, the new App will be rolled out in hairdressing and beauty salons in South and West London over a 12 month period.
Principle Investigator, Dr Mariam Molokhia, Reader in Primary Care, King’s College London, said:
“Developing innovative and sustainable community-health partnership interventions in trusted environments such as hairdressing and beauty salons has the potential to ensure that communities have a say in shaping culturally accessible services for both the prevention and management of health.”
All participating hair and beauty salons will receive reimbursement for their time and training, along with ongoing support from nurses and health care assistants based within participating local GP Practices in South and West London.
If successful, data will be used to design a larger study to examine if the app reduces the chances of heart disease and increases breast cancer awareness among women in deprived communities and whether it is good value for money.
Dr Habib Naqvi, director of the NHS Race and Health Observatory said;
“The Belong initiative is a simple, innovative approach to target women from ethnically diverse areas of London and signpost them to vital, free NHS checks. We appreciate the salons who have committed so far and look forward to seeing how the app develops with tailored content over the next few months.”