Surgery News

Barbers help customers control high blood pressure

September 01, 2015

All African-American men patronizing the participating shops were offered baseline blood pressure screenings for hypertension. The shops then were assigned randomly to the intervention or comparison group.

Barbers at the nine shops in the intervention group were trained to measure blood pressure properly and they offered free checks with every cut. If a customer's reading was high, the barber encouraged him to see his doctor, and, if he did not, the barber called the study's nursing staff to arrange a physician visit. The customer, in turn, got a free haircut if he returned to the shop with a doctor-signed referral card.

In the eight shops in the comparison group, customers received a blood pressure check at the study's outset, and then were offered standard educational pamphlets about hypertension.

At the study's conclusion, 20 percent more hypertensive patrons in the intervention group had their blood pressure controlled with medication compared to 10 percent in the control group.

"We need further exploration to make this kind of program scalable and sustainable," said Victor, who is launching a new study with African-American barbershops in Southern California. "If this kind of program could be applied to large numbers of African-American men, that would be an enormous asset in preventing heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and other serious complications of hypertension."

SOURCE Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute