DALLAS March 1, 2011 Will Marshall saw a physician about his blood pressure at his barber's urging.
Yes, his barber.
"The barber and beauty shops for men and women are kind of their own private escapes," Mr. Marshall said. "Every conversation you can imagine goes on in the barbershop. I wouldn't have put the barbershop and blood pressure together but that visit to my physician for my blood pressure saved my life."
Mr. Marshall now has a healthy blood pressure thanks to lifestyle and dietary changes.
He is one of about 1,300 participants in a study described online and in the Feb. 28 print issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. The study was designed to ascertain if barbers could influence African-American men to consult a physician about elevated blood pressure, or hypertension.
"Black men tend to suffer the complications of uncontrolled hypertension heart disease and kidney failure more than black women and other ethnic groups, and they tend to be affected at younger ages. No one has addressed this issue well, so we went to a social setting where you find black men to see if we could improve things," said Dr. Robert Haley, chief of epidemiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center and senior author of the study, designated Barber-Assisted Reduction in Blood Pressure in Ethnic Residents (BARBER-1).
UT Southwestern investigators found that patrons of black-owned barbershops who had their blood pressure regularly measured there and who were encouraged to follow up with their physicians were nearly nine times more likely to see a physician than patrons who were simply given hypertension literature.
"There is a long tradition of barbers taking part in medical care," Dr. Haley said. "Barbers were the original surgeons. They have the confidence of their customers and other characteristics of health care providers.
"In this study, they only did blood pressure measuring and referring
|Contact: LaKisha Ladson|
UT Southwestern Medical Center