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21 February 2023

Beauty salons to work with King's researchers to promote breast cancer awareness

Local salon owners will work with a team from King's to adapt an app to encourage women to undertake health checks.


The BELONG study, which is backed by the NHS Race and Health Observatory and funded by the National Institute for Health Research, will empower hairdressers and beauty salon therapists to promote breast cancer awareness and risks of heart disease among women from minority ethnic backgrounds.

The team from King's includes clinicians, GPs, social scientists, nutritionists, social epidemiologists and statisticians.

Salons across London, including Brixton and Streatham, have signed up to take part. They will participate in discussions around the app design and propose tailored content aimed at the community.

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.

In the 12-month pilot, hairdressers and beauty salon therapists will chat with their customers and staff about the importance of the checks and signpost the app to remind women who are eligible to book free NHS Health Checks.

Data collected in the study will be fed back into NHS online consultation app DR iQ, which will be modified to reflect cultural needs and preferences. It will allow the app to promote culturally-appropriate self-care resources, such as on healthy eating and active living.

Salons are special because they are familiar and trusted places where women meet, so salons have the potential to be a community health asset and embed health-promoting messages into everyday conversations between salon staff and their clients. Promoting innovative partnerships between GPs surgeries and community places, such as salons, can help enable access to healthcare services, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity.

Dr Mariam Molokhia, Principal Investigator and a Reader in Primary Care

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.

In this story

Clinical Reader in Epidemiology & Primary Care

Seeromanie  Harding

Professor of Social Epidemiology