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Cardiovascular Diseases in African Americans


Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in African Americans while stroke is among the biggest problems affecting women from this race. Beal (2015) conducted a study titled “Stroke education needs of African American women” to investigate the perceptions about stroke and health information seeking behaviors in African American women beyond medical encounters. The research provides essential information to impact nursing practice because it informs key measures professionals should use to eliminate racial disparities in the prevention of stroke. This paper provides a detailed critical analysis of Beal’s study that was published in the Journal of Public Health Nursing.

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Research Questions

The article states the research questions, which are appropriate for providing adequate information concerning the study topic. The first question was to explore the perceptions of black women about the etiology, seriousness, and effects of stroke (Beal, 2015). Secondly, the researcher wanted to know how African American women obtain health information without medical encounters. Previous studies have provided adequate information concerning the study topic, which may have guided the development of these questions. Furthermore, awareness and perceptions about stroke may be a contributing factor to higher prevalence rates of the disease in African-American women, which further determined the development of the study topic and the research questions.

Research Design

The researcher utilized an exploratory, descriptive qualitative study design. Grove, Burns, and Gray (2013) explain that this design is appropriate when views are required from affected groups of people about interventions or problems. The design was advantageous for Beal (2015) because of its appropriateness in emphasizing sociocultural factors including African American women’s attitudes, perceptions, and knowledge acquisition behaviors about stroke. It is the best design for acquiring views from the participants through focused group discussions the researcher used in data collection. Beal (2015) may have decided to use this design since it was the most appropriate to gather data from one racial group.

Study Sample

The sample comprised of African American women because they were the most affected race by the stroke. The minimum age of participants was 35 years, and Beal (2015) managed to recruit 48 women between the age of 38 and 88 years, and an average age of 68.6 years. 40% of them were widowed, 40% were married, and the rest were unmarried. This sample size was small to achieve the study intention because the findings cannot reflect the practical situations among black women. Furthermore, the study solely relied on participants from four urban churches (Beal, 2015). Therefore, the findings cannot be generalized for black women because the study ignored non-churchgoers and rural women.

Data Collection

Data was collected using three tools. Beal (2015) used focused group discussions held at church premises and interviews guided by open-ended questions, all of which were digital audio-recorded. The ethical considerations were comprehensively addressed. First, the study was approved by the university review board (Beal, 2015). Pastors from the four churches gave permission for carrying the study on church premises. Additionally, participants gave informed consent before completing a demographic questionnaire. However, Beal does not explain the issue of information confidentiality and privacy, which is an essential ethical concern.

Study Limitations

The author acknowledges several study limitations, which are mainly related to the generalization of findings beyond the sample. Beal (2015) failed to consider all factors in sampling such as including women from rural areas and different religious affiliations. Also, the study did not collect information on income levels yet this variable can influence its results. That notwithstanding, women joined the study through volunteering, something that can attract the majority of participants with an interest in cardiovascular diseases (Beal, 2015). Therefore, their views may not depict that of the wider population of African-American women. It is important to list the limitations to reveal to other scholars the study’s weaknesses and the need to conduct further research to fill the gaps. Subsequent studies can overcome these limitations by recruiting participants from different religions, geographical areas, and controlling for confounding variables like income levels.

Research Findings

The results were credible and offered the right answers to the research questions. Most of the knowledge on stroke comes from the interaction with acquaintances or family members who have the disease rather than health professionals and stroke campaigns (Beal, 2015). The study further found high levels of confusion about symptoms of stroke and information about its symptoms does not provide a meaningful representation of symptoms. Furthermore, women had more information about breast cancer than stroke. Television programs, the internet, and other women were the primary sources of stroke information outside medical encounters. The results are consistent with Tedesco, Di Giuseppe, Napolitano, and Angelillo’s (2015) findings which assert that the television and the internet are the main sources of cardiovascular disease information other than medical encounters. Therefore, the results are credible, and comprehensively addresses the research questions.

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This study explored African American women’s perception of stroke and their health-seeking behaviors beyond health professional encounters. Data were collected from women of four urban churches through focused group discussions and interviews. In answering the question on the sources of stroke information, the study found that women acquired knowledge of the disease from the television, the internet, and close acquaintances. The findings have a high probability of being implemented into practice because the evidence is robust and consistent with other findings. Therefore, the television, the internet, and group forums are effective in communicating stroke information to black women.


Beal, C. C. (2015). Stroke Education Needs of African American Women. Public Health Nursing, 32(1), 24-33.

Grove, S. K., Burns, N., & Gray, J. R. (2013). The practice of nursing research: Appraisal, synthesis, and generation of evidence (7th Ed.). St. Louis: Elsevier Saunders.

Tedesco, L. M. R., Di Giuseppe, G., Napolitano, F., & Angelillo, I. F. (2015). Cardiovascular diseases and women: knowledge, attitudes, and behavior in the general population in Italy. BioMed Research International, 2015(2015), 1-7. Web.

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