Article: Black Barbershop Hypertension Intervention Gets Telemedicine Update

The success of a barbershop hypertension intervention for Blacks continued with the addition of a telemedicine component to reduce costs and improve efficiency, according to a pilot study.

Blood pressure fell from an average of 155.1/84.9 mm Hg at baseline to 126.4/75.0 mm Hg after 12 months among Black men who received the intervention. The finding were presented in an oral abstract at the virtual Hypertension Conference hosted by the American Heart Association.

This study built on the success of the Los Angeles Barbershop Blood Pressure Project involving specialty pharmacists visiting barbershops that served Black men. Barbers encouraged patrons to meet with the pharmacists who prescribed drug therapy and monitored electrolytes under an agreement with the participants’ doctors. The men got better hypertension control from the barbershop intervention than if they were encouraged to seek medical care from their usual doctor. The intervention addressed several barriers to care, including awareness, trust and accessibility.

The biggest barrier to scaling the initial intervention was the approximately two hours that the pharmacists spent traveling each day to the barbershops. The original trial had 52 barbershops spread across 450 square miles in congested Los Angeles. The pilot study tested telemedicine as a potential solution to this obstacle. Pharmacists worked with participants in the barbershops until they reached a BP of <130/80 mm Hg, at which point the participants transitioned to telemedicine. Barbershops were equipped with a webcam and microphone in a private area to accommodate sessions.

The findings from the intervention with the telehealth component are important for future broad-scale implementation and development of cost-effective hypertension management programs for Black men in barbershops. Because Black men have higher rates of cardiovascular risk factors, sustained blood pressure reduction may reduce hypertension-related morbidity and mortality for this population. Read the abstract.