DOI: 10.1093/annweh/wxad044 ISSN:

A participatory approach to designing and implementing an occupational health intervention for the nail salon community in the Greater Philadelphia region

Trân B Huỳnh, Dương T Nguyễn, Nga Vũ, Lucy Robinson, Emily Trần, Nancy Nguyễn, Amy Carroll-Scott, Igor Burstyn
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health



The nail salon industry in the US comprises mostly immigrant-owned, small mom-and-pop salons that employ primarily first-generation immigrant workers from Asia. Because of the cultural and language barriers, both owners and workers may not avail themselves of the occupational safety resources. We formed an academic-community partnership to co-design a feasibility study and multi-level occupational health intervention for Vietnamese-speaking salon owners, workers, and community-based organization.


The intervention for each salon included (i) 2-h in-person training covering chemical safety, infection control, musculoskeletal prevention, and workers’ rights for both the owners and their employees, (ii) a tailored recommendation report for the owner, and (iii) check-ins with the owner during the 3-month follow-up. Community partner was trained to deliver the in-language training with technical assistance from the research team. Baseline and post-intervention individual data about health symptoms and behaviors, as well as personal chemical exposures were collected and analyzed.


A total of 44 participants from 12 consented salons enrolled in the study. One salon dropped out at follow-up due to change of ownership. Analysis of the differences between post-and pre-intervention showed a tendency toward reduction in some self-reported symptoms in the respiratory system, skin, and eyes, neurotoxicity score, as well as chemical exposures. We could not rule out seasonality as an explanation for these trends. Increase in self-efficacy in some areas was observed post-intervention.


Our study demonstrated a successful academic-community partnership to engage community members in the intervention study. While the intervention effects from this feasibility study should be interpreted with caution, our preliminary results indicated that our community-based intervention is a promising approach to reduce work-related exposures among Asian American nail salon workers.

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