Going for a haircut usually means getting pampered, feeling more groomed and getting a chance to socialize with the person giving the cut. An additional benefit was shown in a study performed in Dallas, Texas; going for a regular cut helped screen and monitor groups of African American men for hypertension. African-American men have the highest incidence of hypertension in the U.S. The local barbershop turned out to be a great place to provide preventive health care services.
The study took place in 17 African-American owned barbershops between the years of 2006 to 2008. Barbers in nine shops were trained how to measure blood pressure and they offered free blood pressure checks with every cut. If the blood pressure turned out to be high, the barber encouraged the customer to go see his doctor.
If the customer did not indicate he would go, the barber would let a nurse from the study know, who would then arrange for a doctor visit. The customer would receive a free haircut if, when he returned to the shop, he had a signed check-up card by the doctor.
In the other eight barbershops an initial blood pressure screening was made on the customer’s first visit but afterwards the customers were only offered educational materials regarding hypertension. These shops served as the control groups for the study.
At the end of the study, 20 percent of the customers from the screening blood pressure barbershops had their hypertension under control with medication. Only 10 percent of the men who visited the educational information alone barbershops had theirs under control.
Uncontrolled hypertension is a major risk factor for strokes, heart attacks and premature death in this country. Forty percent of African-American men have hypertension and they have three times the risk of premature death from complications of the disease than Caucasian men.
According to science daily, African-American owned barbershops and hair salons have hosted screening programs for various medical conditions since the 1980’s. Clearly, these places of business provide an ideal non-threatening location to monitor the health of their local neighborhood.