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Across the African Diaspora, hair is synonymous with identity. As such, Black women use a variety of hair products, which often contain more endocrine-disrupting chemicals than products used by women of other races. An emerging body of research is linking chemicals in hair products to breast cancer, but there is no validated instrument that measures constructs related to hair, identity, and breast health. The objective of this study was to develop and validate the Black Identity, Hair Product Use, and Breast Cancer Scale (BHBS) in a diverse sample of Black women to measure the social and cultural constructs associated with Black women’s hair product use and perceived breast cancer risk.

Participants completed a 27-item scale that queried perceptions of identity, hair products, and breast cancer risk. Principal Component Analyses (PCA) were conducted to establish the underlying component structures, and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was used to determine model fit.

Participants (n = 185) were African American (73%), African, and Caribbean Black women (27%) aged 29 to 64. PCA yielded two components that accounted for 61% of total variance. Five items measuring sociocultural perspectives about hair and identity loaded on subscale 1 and accounted for 32% of total variance (α = 0.82; 95% CI = 0.77–0.86). Six items assessing perceived breast cancer risk related to hair product use loaded on subscale 2 and accounted for 29% of total variance (α = 0.82 (95% CI = 0.74–0.86). CFA confirmed the two-component structure (Root Mean Square Error of Approximation = 0.03; Comparative Fit Index = 0.91; Tucker Lewis Index = 0.88).

The BHBS is a valid measure of social and cultural constructs associated with Black women’s hair product use and perceived breast cancer risk. This scale is useful for studies that assess cultural norms in the context of breast cancer risk for Black women.


This article was originally published in PLoS ONE, volume 14, issue 12, in 2019.

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