Barbershop checks may improve BP control among Black men
MedWire Newsm: Results from a US study suggest that hypertension outreach programs based in barbershops may improve blood pressure (BP) control among Black men with hypertension more than traditional management programs.
"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," explain Ronald Victor (Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, Los Angeles, California) and colleagues.
Over a 2-year period, Victor et al randomly allocated 17 Black-owned barbershops in Dallas County, Texas, to provide their hypertensive Black male clients with no intervention other than educational leaflets (695 men at nine shops) or active intervention such as on-site BP checks with haircuts, encouragement of physician follow-up, and promotion of gender-specific treatment-seeking behavior (602 men at eight shops).
The team recorded the BPs of all men at baseline and after a 10-month follow-up period. Hypertension was defined as self-reported use of prescribed antihypertensive medication, or a BP of 135/85 mmHg (130/80 mmHg for patients with diabetes).
In the Archives of Internal Medicine, the researchers report that at baseline 33.8% and 40.0% of men in the barbershop intervention and intervention-free groups, respectively, had controlled hypertension, defined as a BP < 135/85 mmHg (130/80 mmHg for patients with diabetes).
By the end of follow-up, both groups exhibited improved hypertension control rates, but this improvement was significantly greater among the men in the barbershop intervention group than among those in the intervention-free group, with a respective increase of 19.9% versus 11.1% (p=0.03), even after adjustment for variables such as age and smoking status.
Victor and colleagues also found a greater, albeit nonsignificant, improvement in hypertension treatment rates among the men receiving barbershop intervention compared with those receiving no intervention, with an increase of 11.2% versus 6.2%, respectively.
In a related commentary Clyde Yancy (Baylor Heart and Vascular Institute, Dallas, Texas) applauded the ingenuity of the strategy presented by Victor and team. He advised however, that "we must remain cautious and strictly evidence based; before we invest significant resources, more research is needed, especially to generate outcomes and cost-effectiveness data."
Victor et al conclude: "Our data suggest that barbers can deliver health messages that resonate with men and, more broadly, that the barbershop constitutes a unique opportunity for further research on improving the health status of this particularly vulnerable and understudied group of men-middle-income black men."
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By Lauretta Ihonor