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P24 - Do Fitbits® Encourage Health Tracking and Lower Blood Pressure in Barbershop Initiatives? A Feasibility Study

Background and significance: Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States. According to the 2019 American Heart Association Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics, non-Hispanic, African-American men have higher rates of hypertension (HTN) and the highest rate of hypertension-related deaths of any racial, ethnic, or sex group in the United States. African-Americans often go undiagnosed for much longer than other populations, leading to the development of cardiovascular disease at a younger age and increased morbidity (heart disease, kidney disease, eye disease) and mortality.

To help reduce modifiable risk factors including hypertension in African-American men, health promotion interventions have been implemented in barbershops. Barbershops are often centers of the community and serve diverse populations. While this form of health outreach is becoming more common, no studies reported combining health promotion with the use of activity trackers, such as Fitbits®, as part of a barbershop initiative. A number of studies, however, have shown health improvement due to monitoring through activity trackers such as Fitbits®, although most have found that activity trackers are more often adopted by people who are white, non-Hispanic, women, and have incomes over $100,000. This study would involve a more diverse population focusing on low income, African-American men in an urban area.

Aims: Using a quantitative approach, this study will investigate the feasibility of an activity tracker intervention to measure heart rate, steps, and sleep in low income, African-American men to determine 1) if the use of these activity trackers impacts health behaviors and blood pressure, 2) the relationship among wearing patterns, steps, heart rate, sleep, and blood pressure, and 3) any technical or wearability issues with the Fitbits®.

Study design/methods: African-American male barbers will be given Fitbits® to wear for a month. Fitbits® will be purchased and registered to emails managed by the PI in order to collect heart rate, steps, and sleep data from participants. IRB approval and funding has been obtained, and data will be collected between July and September 2020. After signing a consent form, each participant will be assigned a study number and complete a survey about their basic demographics, history of hypertension, and any experience using an activity tracker. Participants will then have their blood pressure measured by the investigators using an automated blood pressure device. At the end of the month, participants will be asked (via survey and interviews) about their wearing patterns and any issues with wearing the device, as well as updated health information. Main comparisons of interest include: heart rate with pre- and post-blood pressure, steps, and sleep, as well as general wearing patterns.

Learning Outcome: After completing this learning activity, the participant will be able to assess innovations being used by other professionals in the specialty and evaluate the potential of implementing the improvements into practice.

Proposed outcomes: Information about the feasibility of this population’s willingness to wear activity trackers, as well as issues with Fitbits® will be shared. Results will help investigators determine if this population can benefit from wearing these devices, if these devices can be distributed to a larger population in order to assess health outcomes and to generate more studies. 


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