Bar­ber­shop chats lead to im­proved can­cer screen­ing rates

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS - By Steven Ross John­son

Hos­pi­tals look­ing to im­prove the health of the com­mu­ni­ties they serve might con­sider new av­enues for out­reach now that a team of re­searchers have suc­cess­fully in­creased cer­tain screen­ing rates by reg­u­larly vis­it­ing bar­ber­shops.

A new study pub­lished in the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Pub­lic Health ex­am­ined the ef­fec­tive­ness of per­form­ing pa­tient nav­i­ga­tion ser­vices in lo­cal bar­ber­shops, and found there was an in­crease in the can­cer screen­ing rate stud­ied. Com­mu­nity health work­ers vis­ited more than 100 bar­ber­shops in New York City be­tween 2009 and 2013 to pro­vide pa­tient nav­i­ga­tion to more than 700 black men.

The idea was to get to know mem­bers of the com­mu­nity well enough that they be­lieved the re­searchers who were urg­ing them to get screened for col­orec­tal can­cer. Dr. Joseph Ravenell, as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of pop­u­la­tion health and medicine at NYU Lan­gone Health who led the re­search, said any type of com­mu­nity out­reach re­lies on es­tab­lish­ing trust.

As such, Ravenell’s re­searchers spent sev­eral years talking with bar­ber­shop work­ers and pa­trons in New York City, aim­ing to see if de­vel­op­ing such re­la­tion­ships out­side clin­i­cal set­tings could help to ad­dress some of the so­cial fac­tors that lead to health dis­par­i­ties. “We put a lot of time into de­vel­op­ing a re­la­tion­ship with the bar­ber­shops,” Ravenell said.

Par­tic­i­pants were split into three groups, with the first paired with a pa­tient nav­i­ga­tor who ed­u­cated them on the im­por­tance of col­orec­tal can­cer screen­ing and helped them ad­dress po- ten­tial bar­ri­ers to get­ting screened, such as a lack of in­sur­ance. A con­trol group was given ad­vice on con­trol­ling blood pres­sure and a third group re­ceived both a nav­i­ga­tor and the blood pres­sure con­trol coun­sel­ing.

The study found 17.5% of men who worked with a nav­i­ga­tor and 17.8% of men who got help nav­i­gat­ing the sys­tem and re­ceived coun­sel­ing got screened for col­orec­tal can­cer six months af­ter they en­rolled in the trial com­pared with 8% of men who just re­ceived coun­sel­ing.

Sev­eral fac­tors played a role in con­tribut­ing to the health dis­par­i­ties many of the trial par­tic­i­pants faced. Only 60% had a per­sonal physi­cian, while only 40% had re­ceived a checkup within the past year. Many were unin­sured and lacked knowl­edge about their health and how to man­age it. The me­dian salary of trial par­tic­i­pants was $16,726, al­most one-third had less than a high school ed­u­ca­tion, and nearly half were un­em­ployed.

But Ravenell said the re­sults of the trial showed the im­por­tance of hav­ing health­care providers meet the health needs of pa­tients who may not oth­er­wise be seen within a clin­i­cal set­ting.

Com­mu­nity en­gage­ment has be­come more preva­lent at hos­pi­tals in re­cent years as health­care has fo­cused greater at­ten­tion on pop­u­la­tion health man­age­ment to im­prove health out­comes and lower health­care costs through pre­ven­tion and well­ness.

“What keeps peo­ple healthy of­ten has to do with what’s go­ing on within their com­mu­ni­ties,” said Dr. James Plumb, a pro­fes­sor of fam­ily medicine and co-di­rec­tor for the Cen­ter for Ur­ban Health at Jef­fer­son Health, a nine-hospi­tal sys­tem based in Philadel­phia.

Com­mu­nity en­gage­ment has be­come more preva­lent at hos­pi­tals in re­cent years as health­care has fo­cused greater at­ten­tion on pop­u­la­tion health man­age­ment to im­prove health out­comes and lower health­care costs through pre­ven­tion and well­ness.

Dr. Joseph Ravenell talks with a cus­tomer at a Har­lem bar­ber­shop as part of the com­mu­nity en­gage­ment project.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.