DALLAS, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Barbers, long linked to medical care, are effective in testing blood pressure and encouraging their clientele to seek a doctor's care, U.S. researchers say.
Senior author Dr. Robert Haley of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas says the study involved in about 1,300 participants who were patrons of 17 black-owned barbershops in Dallas County from March 2006 to December 2008.
Eight shops gave customers pamphlets about hypertension, while nine shops hung posters with messages about hypertension, checked patrons' blood pressure and encouraged the men to see a physician if their numbers were elevated.
The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found men in the intervention group who controlled their hypertension increased from 33.8 percent at the start of the study to 53.7 percent at follow-up. In those who received pamphlets, the number increased from 40 percent to 51 percent at follow-up.
"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," Haley says in a statement. "The barbers were the heroes of this story. They really stood forward and made it part of their barber practice. They helped us show that social settings can be an integral part of healthcare in the black male population."