Family Practice Physician Dr. Thaddeus Bell shares his thoughts of how the Barber shop in African American communities can have a positive effect on health care issues.
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Mary: Welcome to ICYOU on Topic. Our focus today is the effect of racial disparity on African-American healthcare. And joining us now in our studio is Family Practice Physician Dr. Thaddeus Bell, who spent much of his career addressing some of these issues. Dr. Bell, thank you so much for being here today. Dr. Bell: Thank you so much for asking me again Mary. Mary: Now, African-Americans are facing several obstacles when it comes to healthcare ad part of it is just getting the right advice. Tell me about your theory on how the right atmosphere can affect the decisions people make when it comes to their health. Dr. Bell: Well, one of the things that that we’re beginning to fan out is that many African-Americans still have a fear of the medical profession and that fear has commenced a result of some of the things that historically have been done to African-Americans over the years and pieces of that kind of information has filtrated the African-American community has caused many African-Americans to fear that those kinds of things can possible still happen. One of the ways in which we are trying to deal with this is to meet African-American men particularly and women, African-American men and women in places where they are likely to talk about their fears and their concerns. In the African-American community, the barber shop, there are two places where that can happen. The church and the barber shop or the beauty shop and so many African-American researches are now looking at the barber shop and the beauty shop as the place to have an open dialogue about healthcare issues because if you go to an African-American barber shop, beauty shop particularly to the barber shop there are primarily three things that are going to be discussed. They are going to be discussing women, they are going to be discussing sports and they are going to be discussing politics. Well, some innovative researchers are saying, “Well, why not discuss health?” And so they are looking at barbers and saying that barbers very well may be an excellent partner with doctors to help get information out about healthcare. You know when you go to the barber shop, the barber shop and you sit in the barber’s chair. You’re going to be there 15 or 20 minutes and the clients will tell the barber everything. They’re talking about every aspect of their life. And they expect to hear good information from the barber, a good feedback from the barber about they said. So what we are trying to do in the Charleston area is we are trying to educate barbers as well as beauticians about healthcare issues, diabetes, hypertension, simple things like taking your medications, addressing issues like you know, have you had your prostate exam? Have you had your mammogram? Did you get your colonoscopy well if not, why not? And having those barbers gently say to them you know we are trying to increase the health care of African-American people one way in which we’re trying to do that is to increase health literacy and so gently nudging that patient that client toward the healthcare profession. So that’s the way the barber shop, we are hoping that the barber shop influence the behavior of African-American men and the beauty shop will influence the behavior of African-American and you know I’ve already been involved in doing some speaking at barber shops, giving talks and I’ve been very impressed with the amount of questions that have come up in the amount of issues that we have dealt with as it relates to a lot of stuff that has been out there about medicine and a lot of falsehoods, a lot of misinformation, and just where they are trying to encourage people to go to the doctor because that’s one of the ways in which we’re going to get rid of the health disparities. It’s all not going to be related to access to health. A lot of it has to do with just not having good information. Mary: And are you finding the barbers to be receptive to this? Do they want to help out? Dr. Bell: Oh I'm find