Lessons from the field: A mixed methods analysis of hair stylists' reflections on their experience as lay health educators

Women Health. 2018 May-Jun;58(5):519-533. doi: 10.1080/03630242.2017.1316347. Epub 2017 Apr 28.


Beauty salons are unique settings to provide community-based health education. The Speak UP! Salon Project trained hair stylists to deliver health messages related to reducing unintended pregnancy to female clients in the 18-30-year age range. The project ran from 2009 through 2011. Midway through the project, we held focus groups with stylists and administered a questionnaire as concurrent process evaluation measures. Forty-seven of the ninety-three stylists then active in the project attended one of eleven focus groups. The focus groups included questions about stylists' experiences and their reflections on their role as lay health educators. Using Krueger's qualitative methodology, we systematically analyzed the focus group transcripts. Six themes emerged from the focus groups, including stylists' ability to deliver lay health education, increased comfort levels, stylists' self-monitoring, support materials, messaging outside the target audience, and intangible benefits to the stylists. The questionnaire included twenty-six items and provided quantitative support for identified themes. Findings indicated that stylists were a strong and willing community partner for delivering health education, they received substantial positive feedback from clients, and their efforts reached individuals far beyond the target audience; however, professional health educators must provide substantial training and support to ensure the program's success.

Keywords: Focus groups; health education; qualitative research; reproductive health; salons; stylists.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Black or African American*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Hair*
  • Health Education / methods*
  • Health Educators*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Iowa
  • Qualitative Research
  • Surveys and Questionnaires