Beauty is a balancing act – new study brings falls-prevention education to NC hair salons

September 17, 2015

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Dr. Laura Linnan

According to the North Carolina Injury and Violence Prevention Branch of the N.C. Division of Public Health, falls are the leading cause of injury among North Carolinians ages 65 and older.

In 2013, falls resulted in 17,861 hospitalizations and 820 deaths across the state. Falls are the leading cause of emergency room visits for people of nearly all ages, though previous falls or fear of falling can affect older adults in particular, leading to depression and lack of mobility.

“BEAUTY is a Balancing Act” is a new study that aims to address this largely preventable community health issue. It was developed by Laura Linnan, PhD, professor of health behavior at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Linnan and her research team, which includes the BEAUTY and Barbershop Advisory Board, will strive to bring fall-prevention awareness to a nontraditional environment – beauty salons.

BEAUTY is a Balancing Act - logo design purple green FINAL 03 02 2015The relationship a woman has with her hair stylist is unique. Hairdressers serve as confidantes for their clients, creating a strong bond that can last for many years. Salons provide a safe atmosphere for open and honest conversation, making them ideal locations to cultivate falls-prevention awareness.

The BEAUTY study will work in salons to identify individuals who are at high risk of falling and refer them to evidence-based falls-prevention programs in the community. In addition, study representatives will inject meaningful, potentially life-saving information into the salon environment by introducing customers and stylists to techniques for retaining balance, spacial awareness and range of motion.

The overarching goal of the BEAUTY initiative is to protect those who are at risk of falling, including seniors who are at especially high risk, caregivers of older adults and individuals of all ages who can benefit from the information. N.C. Governor Pat McCrory has declared the first week of fall, Sept. 21-26, to be Falls Prevention Awareness Week.

The BEAUTY is a Balancing Act research team will host a project kickoff celebration with participating salon owners and stylists on Monday, Sept. 21, at UNC’s William and Ida Friday Center for Continuing Education. The event, which will run from 4–6:30 p.m., will include dinner and a demonstration of the health and balance screenings which will be offered to participating salon customers.

To learn more about BEAUTY is a Balancing Act, visit beautybalanceproject.web.unc.edu.


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Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or dpesci@unc.edu

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