The article by Ferguson et al. (2018) “Factors associated with elevated blood pressure or hypertension in Afro-Caribbean youth: A cross-sectional study” provides information on risk factors for high blood pressure (BP) among Afro-Caribbean young adults. It is a cross-sectional study involving data analysis of relevant variables, including anthropometric and BP measurements, as well as demographic characteristics and socioeconomic status. The investigation concludes that characteristics associated with high BP among Jamaican young people include obesity, high glucose, high triglycerides, and others. Certain differences by sex in risk factors are also established and discussed.
The research was conducted in compliance with the required norms for human rights protection. The approval by the University of the West Indies/Faculty of Medical Sciences Ethics Committee was received prior to the start of examination procedures. All the 898 participants gave written informed consent.
Due to existing cultural, behavioral, and physiological racial differences, this work was designed to involve Afro-Caribbean young adults specifically to estimate risk factors among Jamaican populations. Therefore, the aim of the study is aligned with maximizing benefits to participants because it investigates the problem in the ethical context. No one from the sample can be identified by the public using the information provided in the article.
The first part of the study includes a comprehensive introduction describing the significance of the problem. The authors mention the necessary BP statistics regarding different groups, ages, and sexes that have been discussed in the relevant literature. According to the data, the problem of identifying risk factors for high BP holds major concerns among medical workers. The purpose of conducting the research is clearly explained.
Ferguson et al. (2018) state, “Given the high burden of hypertension and prehypertension in Jamaica, studies evaluating the relative contribution of various risk factors would provide necessary information to direct public health interventions” (p. 3). Moreover, important implications have been found for further research in this area. Consequently, the answer to the problem provides not only insight into the clinical applicability of the problem but the essential information for designing future medical interventions.
In the next part of the article, the authors present the variables analyzed in the study. Trained research nurses performed all data collection and measurements, including “anthropometric and BP measurements and performed venepuncture for analysis of blood glucose, lipids, insulin and creatinine” (Ferguson at al., 2018, p. 4). A standardized protocol developed for the International Collaborative Study of Hypertension in Blacks was used while performing BP measurements. In addition, the participant’s weight and height were taken using adequate methods; their waist and hip circumference were also recorded. Researchers followed standard laboratory protocols analyzing obtained blood samples. Therefore, the study has been designed to minimize risk to participants.
Furthermore, data on demographic characteristics and socioeconomic status, behavioral confounders, such as physical activity, smoking, and alcohol consumption, and also general health and medical history were gathered for the analysis. To collect socioeconomic information, the authors used a locally developed questionnaire. Its form included questions about parental education and occupation and the number of household possessions that could be selected and evaluated from a list of 17 points. The list of relevant possessions was normalized according to the average distribution in the Jamaican population.
Research questions and hypotheses are not formally stated in the article. Consequently, study variables are not addressed through research questions or hypotheses. However, the authors describe an established etiology of hypertension, which involves “complex interactions between genetic, environmental, behavioral and social factors” (Ferguson et al., 2018, p. 3). Certain risk factors and underlying mechanisms have been previously investigated and proved and are mentioned in the introduction. Therefore, the hypothesis is not included due to existing medical evidence. In conclusion, the underlying research questions naturally flow from the problem and the theoretical and practical framework.
The prediction for the research results is apparent. As it is noted by the authors, previously established risk factors for hypertension include “increasing age, higher levels of adiposity, high dietary sodium, high alcohol consumption, family history of hypertension and lower socioeconomic status” (Ferguson et al., 2018, p. 3). Consequently, the risk factors found in the study are generally consistent with the published literature. However, some differences in the results are found for female and male participants related to general obesity and socioeconomic status. The former shows a stronger association for men, and the latter – for women.
Regarding a possible hypothesis for the study, there could be one that encompasses discovered sex discrepancies. In particular, the authors could suggest that the examined risk factors would differ for men and women, taking into account what has been previously reported in the literature. For example, it could be hypothesized that body weight is a less important factor for women than for men in the whole structure of BP relevant variables. Similarly, the greater relevance of material possessions for women could also be anticipated. The formulation of appropriate research questions would allow investigating chosen variables in this context more thoroughly. In addition, such an angle could motivate the researchers to acquire a corresponding number of female participants and avoid one of the limitations of the study.
Ferguson, T. S., Younger-Coleman, N. O. M., Tulloch-Reid, M. K., Bennett, N. R., Rousseau, A. E., Knight-Madden, J. M., … Wilks, R. J. (2018). Factors associated with elevated blood pressure or hypertension in Afro-Caribbean youth: A cross-sectional study. PeerJ, 6:e4385, 1-26. Web.