Research Indicates Black Barbers Can Successfully Administer Hypertension Intervention to Clients
Training barbers to test their clients for hypertension appears to be an effective way to help black men with the condition receive treatment, according to new research in the May issue of Hypertension, Reuters reports.
For the study, Paul Hess of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and colleagues conducted two feasibility studies to determine whether barbershops would be good sites for hypertension detection, referral and follow-up.
In the first study, researchers examined two groups of black men with poorly controlled hypertension. Twenty-seven of the men received standard care -- written results of three blood pressure screenings, recommendations for follow-up care and brochures from the American Heart Association. Thirty-six other men participated in an enhanced intervention, where they received "BP report cards" from black research assistants and medical and premed students, who were supervised by a black nurse. They also learned of successful strategies others had used to control blood pressure, received referrals to local care providers and earned discounts on haircuts for participating.
Researchers found that after eight months, the proportion of men in the enhanced intervention group who received hypertension treatment increased from 47% to 92%. The rate of participants who successfully managed the condition increased from 19% to 58%. There was no change in treatment or hypertension control rates in the standard care group.
In the second study, researchers trained barbers to provide the same enhanced intervention care in the first study during a 14-month period. They found that six participating barbers performed 8,953 blood pressure checks during 11,066 visits. Each barber received a financial incentive for their participation. Researchers said the total amount of the incentive was less than what would be needed to pay one research assistant.
"Barbers successfully incorporated BP monitoring, as well as health education and medical referral, into their daily routine," the researchers wrote, adding, "The potential public health impact of this community-based research is high, with thousands of black-owned barbershops nationwide" (Reuters, 5/9).
An abstract of the study is available online.