To Empower An Underserved Population, The Pharmacy Meets Patients At The Barbershop

Photo: Hugh Sitton

Access to wellness is far from equal, varying based on where you live, what you earn, and the color of your skin. One population that modern health care has been failing is black men, who have an elevated risk of developing high blood pressure, which can cause strokes and heart attacks. Roughly half of Americans with high blood pressure receive the care they need to treat their condition; the half who don't are disproportionately black. But a new project has had runaway success treating this crucial demographic. How? Not by bringing men to pharmacies but by bringing the pharmacy to the men.

Fifty-two barbershops across Los Angeles participated in the experiment, which involved two different interventions. One group of participants was given informational pamphlets and tips about lowering blood pressure while they were getting their hair cut. The other group was introduced to pharmacists offering blood pressure treatments right there inside their barbershop.

After six months, the men who were given advice lowered their blood pressure by an average of 9 points. Those who saw pharmacists lowered their blood pressure by an average of 27 points. Almost two-thirds of the men who saw pharmacists lowered their blood pressure to within healthy limits.

"There's open communication in a barbershop. There's a relationship, a trust," Eric Muhammad, owner of A New You Barbershop, told the Associated Press. "We have a lot more influence than just the doctor walking in the door."

It's another reminder of the power of community in promoting health. Wellness isn't something we do on our own; it's something You. We. All. achieve together.

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