Diabetes and Barbershops

Diabetes and heart disease education at barbershops controls diabetes and high blood pressure in African American men

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Even though it is clear that certain lifestyle changes can prevent heart disease and diabetes, many people still do not make these needed changes. The barbershop may be one place to convince people to change.

Local barbershops can play an important role in educating African American men about controlling and preventing diabetes and high blood pressure.

"Listen to your friends and family."

African American men have a higher risk of complications from disease like diabetes and heart disease, compared to women and people from other racial or ethnic backgrounds.

For example, African American men are more likely than others to suffer diabetes-related foot complications - something that Dr. Bill J. Releford, a podiatric surgeon in Los Angeles, knows too well.

"Because African Americans experience diabetes related amputations disproportionately more than other groups, I decided to take my health advocacy beyond the walls of my practice and into the streets," Dr. Releford explains.

His idea to take health advocacy to the streets turned into the Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program - an initiative designed to promote diabetes awareness and education among African Americans.

The barbershop outreach program works with volunteers who screen barbershop patrons for diabetes and high blood pressure. These volunteers also recommend lifestyle habits for preventing conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

In a recent study, which was led by Dr. Releford, researchers found that the Black Barbershop Health Outreach program could be an effective tool for educating people about these diseases.

If volunteers find that a barbershop patron has, or is at risk of, high blood pressure or diabetes, they refer that person to a doctor or health care facility.

The Barbershop Health Outreach Program - which uses a grassroots organization approach to partner with advertising and media agencies - has screened over 7,000 African American men in almost 300 barbershops in more than 20 cities across six states.

According to the study's authors, the barbershop outreach program is "a rapidly growing, replicable model for health promotion through barbershops."

"[The Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program] is among several successful programs that have sought to promote health in barbershops," they write.

The authors concluded that the barbershop outreach program could be an especially effective way to promote healthy choices among African American men, one of the most at-risk populations in the United States for diabetes and heart disease.

For their study, the researchers reviewed previous studies in order to compare this barbershop program to other barbershop efforts.

The results were published in the Journal of the National Medical Association

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 1, 2012
Last Updated:
August 25, 2012