Washington Post Examines Local Program That Trains Barbers, Hairstylists To Screen, Educate Clients on Hypertension, Obesity
The Washington Post on Friday examined the Hair Heart and Health program, a collaboration between CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and MedStar Research Institute that trains local barbers and beauticians to screen clients for obesity and high blood pressure and urge them to seek follow-up care.
Officially launched in Washington, D.C., in October, the program is modeled after a similar Baltimore program established by the University of Maryland Department of Medicine in which physicians administered blood pressure screenings in churches to reach more blacks. Under the district's program, barbers and beauticians at five shops were given blood pressure machines and digital scales and taught how to use them. Organizers hope to expand the program to at least 12 shops across the city by the end of the year.
According to a University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill survey, 80% of blacks visit a barbershop or salon at least once a month. Women spend two-and-a-half to three hours per salon visit, and men spend a little less time at the barber. A separate UNC study found that nearly one in five conversations in hair salons are health-related, and study leader Laura Linnan said the idea is to teach barbers and stylists how to incorporate targeted health messages into their conversations (Schrank, Washington Post, 11/16).