Illnesses and deaths related to high blood pressure (hypertension) and cancer of the colon (colorectal cancer, or CRC) are more common in African-American men than in the general U.S. population. Poor eating habits and lack of physical activity contribute to hypertension, and men who neglect to be screened for CRC contribute to the high prevalence of that disease. Researchers at New York University School of Medicine (NYU SoM) are comparing three approaches to improving blood pressure control and CRC screening rates, focusing on African-American men in central Harlem, New York City.
Taking part in the project are 1,440 African-American men aged 50 years or older that have uncontrolled high blood pressure and are eligible for CRC screening. The researchers are recruiting participants from barbershops owned and run by African Americans and men from black churches. Participants are randomly assigned to either a blood pressure or CRC intervention. The blood pressure intervention focuses on lifestyle counseling by using a technique called motivational interviewing. Trained counselors recruited from the local community encourage participants to adopt habits that lower blood pressure, such as limiting sodium intake, increasing physical activity, and following a low-fat diet. The CRC intervention recruits trained patient navigators (PNs) from the community who encourage participants to learn about CRC screening options, make appointments for tests, and get follow-up care. A third approach combines the lifestyle counseling and PN interventions and is aimed at improving both blood pressure control and CRC screening rates in participants also recruited from churches and barbershops.
The researchers will examine how well lifestyle counseling, PN, and the combination of the two work at improving blood pressure control and CRC screening rates among the participants. They also will compare how well the three interventions work in the barbershop versus the church setting. Additionally, the researchers will identify what combination of these interventions would be most cost-effective if widely used.