A neighborhood barbershop might seem to some Americans like a thing of the past. Today men often get their hair cut at the same salons as women. But the traditional barbershop still holds a special place in black culture. A barbershop is a place of trust where men can talk about things they might not want women to hear.
This is black-owned barbershops why offers more than just a haircut. Men also receive health education and testing that could save their life. Right now a program called the Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program is traveling to fifty cities across the United States. A doctor started the program in California in two thousand seven. It tests men for diabetes, high blood pressure and other conditions, and provides information about how to stay healthy.
Black men in the United States are three times more likely than white men to die from high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. They are also more likely to get diabetes.A new study has examined the barbershop health-care model in Dallas, Texas. The study involved about one thousand three hundred customers at seventeen black barbershops. Researchers had the barbers at eight of the shops continue to just give haircuts. The other barbers learned how to measure blood pressure and offered it with every haircut.
If a customer had high blood pressure, the barber would intervene. The customer would be to see a doctor. If the man did not have a doctor, then a visit to one would be set up. Customers who went to a doctor would get their next haircut free of charge.The study lasted ten months. All of the men had their blood pressure taken at the start. They also received educational materials about hypertension. The study found that blood pressure rates decreased at the shops where the barbers interfered and also at those where they did not. But the difference was in the amount.
Twenty percent of the men who were to see a doctor got their blood pressure down to a healthy level. So did only eleven percent of the men who just got haircuts. Researchers from the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles did the study, reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Dr. Ronald Victor, the leader, says barbers study were members of the medical profession. So he thinks it makes a lot of sense for today’s barbers to act as “health care extenders” by sharpening their skills. For VOA Special English, I’m Alex Villarreal.
Words in This Story
outreach – n. an effort to bring services or information to people where they live or spend time
hypertension – n. a medical condition in which your blood pressure is extremely high
diabetes – n. a disease in which the body cannot control the level of sugar in the blood
intervene – v. to reluctantly become involved in a difficult situation in order to improve it or prevent it from getting worse
urge – v. to strongly advise or try to persuade someone to do a particular thing
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