Barbershops Helping to Improve Black Men’s Health in USA
A study has found that having pharmacists in barbershops have helped improve black men’s health in the USA. The research has helped lower the rates of hypertension among African-American men in a community in Los Angeles.
The year-long study, which was published in the journal Circulation, was led by Dr. Ronald Victor a professor of medicine at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. At the start of the study, all of the 319 men at 52 different barbershops in Los Angeles county had hypertension. It found that men who got their hair cut at barbershops, where they could also see pharmacists who prescribed blood pressure-lowering medications, reduced their systolic pressure by nearly 30 mmHg (compared to 7mm Hg among men who went to shops where barbers talked to their clients about blood pressure but encouraged them to see their doctors).
African-American men are at higher risk of developing hypertension than people of other ethnicities. This is thought to be because they are less likely to see their doctors for diagnosis and treatment. The study’s leader Victor had previously conducted research in Dallas testing the idea of using barbershops to reach more men in this at-risk population. While the studies showed some benefit it was minimal, so for the LA study he added pharmacists who would be on site to prescribe medications.
When the program continued, these positive changes were maintained for a year. Could the barbershop blood pressure program become a way to reach people who traditionally don’t use the health care system? It seems the key to its success is about making health care as easy to access as having your hair cut.
Do you think that barbershops should be looking out for their client’s health? We’ve already seen barbers looking out for their client’s mental health with the growing spread of The Lions Barber Collective in the UK, could physical health be the next frontier?