Barbershop Program Linked to Blood Pressure Benefits

In intervention, barbers promoted blood pressure screening, treatment to black male customers
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 26 (HealthDay News) -- A program in which barbers with predominantly African-American clients conduct blood pressure monitoring and referral may improve hypertension control among black men, according to research published online Oct. 25 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Ronald G. Victor, M.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues analyzed data from black male customers of 17 black-owned barbershops. Sites were randomly assigned to a comparison group receiving pamphlets about blood pressure or an intervention group in which barbers offered blood pressure screening with haircuts and recommended physician follow-up to those with elevated blood pressure.

The researchers found that, over 10 months, the rate of hypertension control increased more at the intervention sites, with an absolute group difference of 8.8 percent. The findings showed a borderline intervention effect for change in systolic blood pressure (absolute group difference, −2.5 mm Hg; P = .08).

"It is worth noting once again that those African-Americans in the current study were largely insured patrons, and thus access to care cannot be invoked as an excuse for limited health care. Are we as health care providers sufficiently culturally competent to provide best health care experiences to all of our patients? A biopsy of our usual care practices appears to be in order," writes the author of an accompanying editorial.

Victor disclosed financial relationships with Pfizer and Biovail.

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