An LA men’s health project that uses barbershops to reach African American men has recorded a sustained reduction in blood pressure among at-risk males.
A group of pharmacists based themselves in barber shops across Los Angeles County to offer blood pressure check-ups and medication.
“Our initial six-month data showed a marked reduction of blood pressure in the intervention group,” said Adair Blyler, who took part in the initiative at the Smidt Heart Institute Cedars-Sinai.
“Now, our 12-month data shows that this significant reduction in blood pressure can be sustained, and in some cases, even improved, despite fewer in-person visits with a pharmacist,” added Blyler.
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.
Hypertension is a life-threatening condition and can lead to heart failure, stroke and kidney disease if left untreated.
Easy to go undetected, those with hypertension typically have a blood pressure reading above 130 over 80.
After 12 months, the barbershop initiative saw blood pressure readings fall dramatically and health practitioners are now looking for ways to continue and expand the approach to reach more at-risk males.
Said Director of the Smidt Heart Institute, Eduardo Marbán: “This study will have a lasting impact on one of our nation’s most at-risk populations when it comes to high blood pressure.”
There are a number of men’s health initiatives around the world that use barbershops as male-friendly settings through which to reach men. These include the Black Barbershop Outreach Program, the Lions Barber Collective and Stigma Cutz.