For black men in the US, combining health checks and haircuts is proving to be a successful formula for identifying serious medical conditions.
Twelve months ago AMHF reported on an LA health project involving a group of pharmacists offering blood pressure check-ups and medication across Los Angeles County barber shops.
Now on the American East Coast, eight NY City barber shops are giving customers free diabetes screenings.
"For a long time, barbershops have been a place of trust, especially for black people. Because we had the barbers on board with us, people trusted us. Barbers are often important health advocates," said the study's senior author, Dr. David Lee, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.
Lee said black men have significantly higher rates of diabetes complications once diagnosed. So far the study has shown 10% of those taking the test showed signs of type 2 diabetes.
The barbershops are owned by black people and in areas of Brooklyn known for poor blood sugar control.
The study ran from September 2017 to January 2019 and 290 men were tested. Of those with undiagnosed diabetes, 62% were obese, with a body mass index reading of 30 or more.
Lee also said those diagnosed with diabetes from a screening test have “half the premature mortality rate that those who find out later.”
The LA study showed a marked reduction of blood pressure in the intervention group.
Targeting black males for health check-ups in barber shops was the brainchild of the late Ronald G Victor, an expert in hypertension and a pioneer of community-based healthcare intervention.
Victor’s studies found that establishing health services in less threatening settings could have profound effects on the health of target groups.
Other Barbershop settings with a health twist are the East Brisbane Stigma Cutz, which trains its barbers in first mental health first aid.
Another example is the Lions Barber Collective, started in the UK, an international collection of top barbers who have come together to help raise awareness for the prevention of suicide.
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