Trimming health misinformation in the barber’s chair

Anthony Pettiford

Trimming health misinformation in the barber’s chair
April 20
15:15 2022

By Sarah Fedele, American Heart Association

“The barbershop and the gym have honestly saved my life,” shared Anthony Pettiford, owner of United Barber Shop off Randleman Road in Greensboro. “I was able to work off life’s stresses at the gym and go to the barbershop to take my mind off my own situation and listen to other people’s problems. It helped to make me unselfish and forget about whatever problems I was dealing with.

“The people that come through this door just open up and talk about life. No matter what mood you come into the shop with, you feel better on your way out. There is nothing like it. It’s the type of shop I’ve always wanted,” shared Anthony.

Anthony has been a barber for over 35 years and shares about the variety of conversations that happen from the barbershop floor. “People open up more in the barbershop. It could be about family stuff, sports, or politics. Sometimes it turns to health and loss,” said Anthony.

Anthony’s barbershop is one of seven shops and salons in the Triad that are part of the Hair, Heart & Health program, an initiative with the American Heart Association and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. Through this program, salon and barbershop staff have been trained, blood pressure checks are being encouraged, and stylists and barbers are engaging their clients with heart health information to help reduce risk factors for heart disease and stroke.  

During COVID-19, talk of sickness, loss of relatives, and clients fighting for their lives were common in conversations in the shops. Death became very real and health topics came up even more often. 

“There are times in the past that I’ve noticed some clients with swollen ankles and urged them to get to a doctor to get it checked out. One of our clients had a very high blood pressure reading. When I showed him the blood pressure chart, he didn’t believe that it was real. Lots of Black males don’t like to go to the doctor. I’m glad that clients feel comfortable enough to talk about health, but the biggest thing we see in the barbershops when it comes to health conversations is misinformation,” said Anthony. 

“Everyone thinks they know something about health. We feel what we learned from our families and friends growing up may have more value than actually going to the doctor. Learning more about the risk factors and warning signs for heart disease and stroke, has let me and my barbers be able to share right information when health conversations come up. We are not doctors, but we can direct people to where to learn more so they can get the info they need. It’s nice to be able to give more right information when it comes to health,” shared Anthony. 

According to research published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, barbershop-based health interventions are effective in lowering high blood pressure in Black men. The American Heart Association shares that the prevalence of high blood pressure among Black adults in the United States is among the highest in the world. More than 40% of non-Hispanic Black men and women have high blood pressure, with Black Americans often developing high blood pressure earlier in life.  

“Some people may be receptive to accurate health info and some may not. You maybe can’t change everyone, but you might help save somebody,” said Anthony. 

For more information on the Hair, Heart & Health program and the participating barbershops and salons, visit

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