While it would have been ideal to use an instrument that had previously been validated for this data collection, no instrument was identified that addressed the specific questions that were the focus of this inquiry. Hence, an instrument was developed and pilot tested, first with focus interviews and focus groups and then with a sample of 208 women before being used in the current study. The survey included questions regarding participants’ perceptions of the most serious health threats for African-American women, their perceptions of their capacity to influence their health, their sources of information and their use of screening examinations for the early detection of the most common causes of premature mortality among African-American women. Data related to demographics as well as adherence to recommended screening guidelines were also collected.
African-American clergy and female lay church leaders personally spoke with cosmetologists they believed would be receptive to participating in the Black Cosmetologists Promoting Health Program. The principal investigator then met with each of the 24 interested stylists, and 20 of them enrolled their salons in the study. Once a lead stylist entered her salon in the study, all other stylists in the salon were invited to join the research project. Of the four stylists who did not join the study, one stylist’s salon remodeling project meant she could not accommodate the project for several months, one had recently become seriously ill and one was not interested. The fourth was dropped from further consideration because she repeatedly forgot to attend the protocol training sessions she had set up for herself in her own salon. The participating cosmetologists’ clients were recruited via undergraduate African-American research assistants (RA). When the RAs were not present, the cosmetologists encouraged their clients to join the study and directed them to a display of self-administered consent documents and surveys. As an incentive to participate, women who completed the consent document and survey were entered in a drawing for a large basket of beauty supplies that was displayed next to the self-administered subject recruitment materials.
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The RAs worked in each salon on a variety of days and times to recruit a representative sample.
They sequentially invited every client to join the program. The RAs assured methodological consistency among the salons and gave a reliable estimate of the clients’ refusal rate. When a woman said she was not interested in participating in the in-depth data collection, the RA asked her if she would be willing to complete an IRB-approved four-question survey anonymously to allow comparisons to be made between participants and nonparticipants.
Of the 530 women who were asked to participate in the study by an RA, 13.3% (71/530) refused. Chi-squared analysis showed no difference in age or education level between the women who refused to participate versus those who participated, nor between those women who were recruited by an RA versus the self-administered display.
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Chi-squared tests were conducted to assess associations between the participants’ age group and educational background with their listing of serious health problems and reports of recent screening examinations. A p value of <0.05 was considered statistically significant.