Hypertensive male barbershop patrons whose barbers offered BP screenings and physician referrals at the time of their haircut exhibited better hypertension control rates than male patrons who received only pamphlets, a study found.
Such health outreach programs are becoming common in barbershops across the country, according to the study. They may ultimately reach more blacks than church-based programs, which only certain sections of the population attend regularly. ???Black-owned barbershops hold special appeal for community-based intervention trials because they are a cultural institution that draws a large and loyal male clientele and provides an open forum for discussion of numerous topics, including health, with influential peers,??? the researchers wrote.
Ronald G. Victor, MD, and colleagues identified 17 black-owned barbershops with 95% black male clientele in Dallas County, Texas. All black male customers were offered baseline BP screenings during a 10-week period. The researchers then randomly assigned the barbershops into an intervention group, in which barbers were trained to continually offer BP screenings and promote physician follow-up with peer-based messaging, or a comparison group, in which patrons received a standard BP pamphlet.
???The intervention???s theoretical underpinning was adapted from the successful AIDS Community Demonstration Projects that mobilized community peers to deliver intervention messages with role model stories and made medical equipment available in the daily environment,??? the researchers wrote.
Interventions were performed in nine shops with 75 hypertensive men per shop. The comparison group consisted of eight shops with 77 hypertensive patrons per shop. At the end of 10 months, the hypertension control rate increased in the intervention group vs. the comparison group (absolute group difference, 8.8%; 95% CI, 0.8-16.9). The intervention???s effect on hypertension control was not affected by adjusting for several covariates, including age, baseline BP, college education, marital status or smoking status, and participation at both baseline and follow-up (P=.03). The researchers observed a borderline effect of intervention on systolic BP change (absolute group difference, ???2.5 mm Hg; 95% CI, ???5.3 to 0.3).
???If the intervention could be implemented in the approximately 18,000 black-owned barbershops in the United States to reduce systolic BP by 2.5 mm Hg in the approximately 50% of hypertensive US black men who patronize these barbershops, we project that about 800 fewer MIs, 550 fewer strokes, and 900 fewer deaths would occur in the first year alone, saving about $98 million in CHD care and $13 million in stroke care,??? the researchers wrote.
Victor R. Arch Intern Med. 2010;doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2010.390.