Stroke Education and African American Women

Stroke continues to be one of the leading causes of pain and suffering among the African American women. However, a large population of women does not initially know that they are affected by a stroke until they visit a healthcare facility. Many of the African American women have an idea of what stroke entails and disorders which are likely to cause it. Beal (2015) conducted a research that aimed at establishing the issue of stroke prevalence among the african American women. There is the need to raise the awareness of stroke among African Americans to reduce the death impacts which are prevalent due to the low knowledge levels. The purpose of this paper, based on a study by Beal (2015), is to examine the knowledge of African American women regarding stroke and their access to healthcare information away from medical facilities.  

Research Questions

Two central questions guided the study conducted by Beal (2015), on African American women’s insights regarding stroke. The first research question was ;What is the African American women’s understanding of the causes, severity, and effects of stroke?” Stroke is associated with various signs and symptoms which may be similar to those of other disorders. Also, the causes are numerous and better understanding of the causes, signs, and symptoms may aid in alleviating the adverse impacts that befall people. According to (“Stroke Signs and Symptoms | cdc.gov”, 2017), stroke is caused by a sudden cut in blood supply to the brain or bursting of a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. Some of the common symptoms include sudden headaches, numbness, and inability to speak. Persons have different perceptions about the causes and impacts of a disease which may influence the results of this study. The second research question addressed by the research was “How do women in the African American community access healthcare details and data outside of the hospital settings?” It is imperative that people have information about health issues even when they are not visiting medical facilities. Having information helps individuals to beware of the symptoms of a disease way before they visit the hospital. Such information includes the early signs and symptoms of the disease. Having uncooperative or unwilling participants may lead to collection of unreliable data hence affecting the research questions of the study. Also, if the research is conducted in a short time period and without the right sample size, the research questions would not be answered adequately. 

Research Design

The study employed an explorative, descriptive qualitative design. A qualitative approach is used to define life situations and experiences to attach meaning to them. Many researchers apply the qualitative approach to reconnoiter the experiences, behaviors, and perspectives of persons (Creswell, 2013). In the study, the qualitative method enabled them to capture the opinions of the African American women regarding stroke. By applying an exploratory approach, a researcher can help in addressing a topic that is surrounded by high levels of uncertainty or ignorance (Creswell, 2013). The latter means that an exploratory design is helpful in describing a phenomenon that is not well understood or has not been widely studied. To boost the study, the researcher further employed a descriptive approach. A descriptive method offers room for the correct and valid depiction of those factors pertinent to the research questions (Creswell, 2013). The explorative, descriptive qualitative research design applied in the study ensured that the cultural sensitivity among the African American community remained flat. The latter was made possible by laying emphasis on the cultural experiences as well as historical events that may have brought into existence the current situations of the community.  

The applied research design has several advantages as well as some disadvantages. The first significant advantage that an exploratory-descriptive qualitative survey bear is that the researcher can gather a lot of credible information from the participants. The conclusions derived from the research are viable and reliable. Also, the approach is helpful in finding the best way to achieve the objectives of the study. Also, the method is time and cost efficient. The latter is possible as the researcher can eliminate dead-end procedures at an early stage which are not beneficial to the study (Creswell, 2013). 

Study Sample

Much of the research was conducted in churches with a high population of the African Americans. The churches were selected since they had a central function in the daily lives of a majority of the African Americans. Therefore, the participants of the research were drawn from these churches since they also offered cardiovascular screening to the members regularly. Before conducting the study, the co-researcher, an African American, approached pastors from four different churches and gave a briefing of the intended study. Afterward, the pastors introduced the researchers to the women leaders in the church. The selected lower age limit was set at 35 years since the prevalence of stroke among the African American women is established to be between 35 and 44 years. The sample size selected for the study was 48 participants with the age boundaries set between 38 and 88. The average age for the sample size selected was 68.6 years.

Each of the four churches provided a group of 6-10 members. Considering that the study was to draw conclusions of an entire community, a sample size of forty-eight persons was not suitable. The African American community is the second largest in the American society, and thus conclusions drawn from a sample size of forty-eight would be inaccurate and unreliable. Ideally, the whole population should be involved in a study but the latter is not possible, and thus it is imperative to derive a suitable sample. One can only draw reliable results and findings from an appropriate sample from the entire population (Nayak, 2010).

Data Collection

The researcher and their co-worker collected data in the four churches. As earlier seen, each church had a focus group of between 6-10 members and met for approximately one and a half hours for the purpose of answering the interview questions. The researcher used open-ended questionnaires during the research. Also, the researcher used a recording device to keep track of the proceedings of the meetings. The audio device would be useful during analysis of the data collected for clarification and verification. The open-ended questions present an opportunity to participants to give broader information without being limited to particular responses. Through offering an open questionnaire, the possibility of bias is avoided since the respondent gives their opinion and not restricted to make a choice of what the researcher expects to be the answers (Reja et al. 2003). Recording of the sessions was necessary since the recorded information was used to compare the data collected from the questionnaires. Through a combination of both the survey responses and the audio records, data analysis would be simplified. However, these two tools of data collection also present various shortcomings. The main disadvantage of using open-ended questions is that they end up bringing different responses which are tough to compile and arrive at a standard conclusion. Also, the open-ended questionnaires present the challenge of the need for extensive coding and non-response to some questions by the participants (Reja et al. 2003). 

Study Limitations

The first limitation of the study was the use of urban churches to draw conclusions regarding the research problem. All the four churches used during the study were only from urban places meaning that those in rural areas were not included. For the latter reason, the results obtained from such a study are biased and cannot be used to develop reliable information regarding stroke among the African American women. Also, using the only the Church to find the sample population may also be seen as another major challenge of the study. Finally, a section of the participants only volunteered since they had special interests in their cardiovascular health. Therefore, information gathered from them was biased. The sample population should be drawn from a larger section probably from around the country to avert such limitations in future. To further avoid biases, the researchers should not use only churches but also visit the neighborhoods that are highly populated with the African Americans. It is important as a researcher to identify the study limitations rather than wait for other persons to identify them on behalf. By so doing, one can show that they were in control of the work they were conducting. Also, identifying limitations helps future researchers to avoid committing the same errors as the current researcher. 

Findings

After the data analysis had been conducted, the researcher drew four categories of the participants. The latter included those who claimed they had little information regarding the issue and those who believed that there was high likeliness of having a stroke just for being black. Also, there were two other categories for those who believed cancer was more likely to affect African Americans, and finally those who had no idea regarding stroke. Those who had limited information accessed it from television health shows, friends, and relatives, as well as through search engines. Using all these sources of information helped the women to develop the possible questions they could ask during an appointment with their physicians. Those who believed that being black was a direct factor that would result in strokes highlighted stress and hypertension as the main reasons. The majority of these individuals believed that they had the responsibility of paying bills, providing for their families, as well as economic instabilities which caused stress and hypertension which eventually would cause a stroke.

The findings of the study also indicate that African-American women have limited knowledge about stroke. A majority of the population is more interested in cancer issues than cardiovascular health. The respondents reported more knowledge on the effects of stroke rather than on its general physiology. The majority would not differentiate between a heart attack and a stroke. For the latter observation, many of the African American women are diagnosed with cardiovascular disorders at a later stage thereby increasing their mortality rate. From the generalization of the study findings, the researcher answered the two research questions that were developed. During research, credibility addresses the need for proper integration among data collection methods, the actual data collected, and aims of the study. For the purpose of this study, the researcher used the focus groups to ensure that data accumulated to a point that all participants’ issues were collected. After data collection, the participants were invited and the data collected and analyzed shown to them to ensure credibility was upheld.

Summary

African American women are at a considerable risk of developing cardiovascular disorders such as stroke. The researcher aimed at examining whether the African American women are knowledgeable about stroke prevalence. The findings of the research established that African American women are more concerned about the risk of cancer rather than stroke. Despite the sample used being limited to a particular region, the findings may help the medical practitioners to develop strategies such as public education in the African American neighborhoods. It is crucial to ensure that individuals have adequate information regarding common diseases as it helps to avert tragedies such as deaths.

References

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

Creswell, J. W. (2013). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Sage publications.

Nayak, B. K. (2010). Understanding the relevance of sample size calculation. Indian journal of ophthalmology, 58(6), 469.

Stroke Signs and Symptoms | cdc.gov. (2017). Cdc.gov. Retrieved 7 February 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/signs_symptoms.htm 

Reja, U., Manfreda, K. L., Hlebec, V., & Vehovar, V. (2003). Open-ended vs. close-ended questions in web questionnaires. Developments in applied statistics, 19(1), 160-117.