UT Tyler Office of Marketing and Communications

UT Tyler Uses Barbershop Interventions to Help Improve Health Outcomes in Underserved Populations

February 12, 2020

Media Contact: Beverley Golden
Senior Director of Media Relations
Marketing and Communications
The University of Texas at Tyler

The University of Texas at Tyler announced today that Dr. Takova Wallace-Gay, clinical assistant professor in the Fisch College of Pharmacy, is leading a research study to help improve health outcomes among underserved populations in East Texas.  

Wallace-Gay’s research focuses on evaluating hypertension among non-Hispanic Black men. In this pilot study, UT Tyler is conducting focus group discussions and educational sessions among regular patrons at a North Tyler barber shop.

According to Wallace-Gay, this intervention is based on data that has already proven that barbershop interventions are beneficial in conjunction with pharmacist interventions, and elevated blood pressure in Black men is a national and local issue that requires a focused approach to care.

“Understanding that the barbers and the barbershop carry a legacy of being a staple of the Black community in which loyal patrons commune under the guise of trust, comfort and socialization, we expect participants will be more aware of the risks of high blood pressure and will feel comfortable reaching out to counselors and clinicians about potential BP needs,” Wallace-Gay said.

The UT Tyler researchers are utilizing materials from the American Heart Association. Statistics show non-Hispanic Black males have the highest risk of high blood pressure when compared to Hispanics, non-Hispanic White, or non-Hispanic Asian males and females. Additionally, the prevalence of high blood pressure among Blacks living in the United States is one of the highest worldwide. National projections show that by 2030, prevalence of hypertension will increase 7.2 percent.

"Texas data shows that East Texas residents, especially African American men, have higher diagnoses of high blood pressure compared to most other areas of the state,” Wallace-Gay said. “This is consistent with national data and warrants targeted BP lowering efforts for this population.”

About 40 men are current participants, and the project concludes this May.

Working alongside Wallace-Gay on this project is UT Tyler pharmacy student Cherryl Joy Tronzon of Longview. She also serves as the University’s Student National Pharmaceutical Association chapter president.

“Our organization’s mission is to ‘serve the underserved,’ and I like knowing I can make a difference and help this underserved community as a pharmacy student,” Tronzon said.

For more information, contact Wallace-Gay, TWallaceGay@uttyler.edu.

A member of the prestigious UT System, The University of Texas at Tyler focuses on student success and innovative research in the more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs offered to nearly 10,000 students. Classified by Carnegie as a doctoral research institution and by U.S. News and World Report as a national university, UT Tyler has campuses in Tyler, Longview, Palestine and Houston.