James Smith, a barber in Dallas, has spent four decades tending to the hair care needs, and more, of his African-American clientele. “In the black barbershop, we talk about the most important things in life—politics, religion, business. Now we’re adding health to the list,” he says.

Smith belongs to a pioneering team of barbers who have received training to perform blood pressure screenings. The goal of that training is to help reduce the epidemic rates of hypertension among...

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