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Barbershop Interventions Reduce Hypertension Rates in Black Men

Barbershop Interventions Reduce Hypertension Rates in Black Men

In an effort to reduce the high hypertension rates that plague black men in the U.S., many interesting approaches have been applied.   Blood pressure screenings at Barber Shops and churches, for example, have become a popular way to reach individuals who do not regularly visit a doctor, but many have questioned just how effective these types of public health interventions actually are.

A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that barbershop interventions for increasing hypertension control among black men are, in fact, effective. More specifically, the study found that allowing barbers to act as health educators, monitor blood pressure and encourage patrons with high blood pressure to make follow-up appointments with a doctor works to lower blood pressure rates among this high-risk group.

In addition to encouragement, incentives were involved in the study as well. If a patron with hypertension hadn’t scheduled an appointment with his doctor by his next visit, the barber would schedule an appointment for him. But if the patron proceeded to see the doctor, he would receive a free haircut, according to an article on Time.com.

The rather small study was limited to 17 barber shops in and around Dallas, Texas, so further research is suggested, but the results hold promise for a future of reduced blood pressure rates among black men, who have the highest incidence of hypertension related death among any group in the U.S. 

“If the intervention could be implemented in the approximately 18,000 black-owned barbershops in the United States to reduce systolic BP…in the approximately 50% of hypertensive U.S. black men who patronize these barbershops [an estimated 2.2 million people], we project that about 800 fewer myocardial infarctions, 550 fewer strokes and 900 fewer deaths would occur in the first year alone, saving about $98 million in [coronary heart disease] care and $13 million in stroke care,” the authors of the study were quoted as saying, in the Time.com article.

Additionally, the study serves as a reminder that fairly straight forward community-based public health interventions can be an integral method for reducing the incidence of specific health issues within high-risk populations.

 

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photo credit: thanks to H.L.I.T. via flickr

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35 comments

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12:39PM PDT on Nov 4, 2010

Sounds like a simple, serene solution. :-)

1:39PM PDT on Nov 3, 2010

Not all that many people that I know make regular visits to the doctor just for a simple check-up. Non-hospital methods of monitoring your health, preferably in a public place like these with trained folks nearby to help interpret the results for you, should be more widely used.

10:08AM PDT on Nov 2, 2010

We can use all the help we can get in doing public health interventions like this.

10:34PM PDT on Nov 1, 2010

Increasing awareness an encouraging screenings ae positive, but what if the person can't afford the screening or medications?

6:58AM PDT on Nov 1, 2010

They could try a Healthy Life-Style.

2:00AM PDT on Nov 1, 2010

Really simple idea, I reckon the staff will be properly trained. Extend the area to all hair shops!

3:03PM PDT on Oct 31, 2010

Sounds like a great idea.

2:31PM PDT on Oct 31, 2010

Seems like a little thing that could lead to big changes. I don't want to be cynical, but I hope that the AMA does not cry out against this, saying that these barbers are practicing medicine without a license.

11:56PM PDT on Oct 30, 2010

I never would have guessed...

9:34PM PDT on Oct 30, 2010

Like the ideas this article elicited. Wonderful to know this idea works.

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