Research Example #3: High-altitude illness

The journal article “High-altitude illness,” published in The Lancet, 361(9373), 1967-1974, Basnyat, B., and Murdoch, D. R. shed some light into high-altitude illness. Being that there is not much knowledge regarding high-altitude illness, Basnyat and Murdoch proposed the question: What patterns can be discovered by analysing reports and articles about high-altitude illness? Using the database accessing search engine PubMed, the researchers collected reports regarding acute mountain sickness (AMS), high-altitude cerebral oedema (HACE), and high-altitude pulmonary oedema (HAPE) and implemented grounded theory to find hidden physiological traits associated with those illnesses. The findings suggest that brain swelling and heightened blood pressure in the lung vasculature play a role in high-altitude illness, a term referring to the effects of any of the three mentioned sickness.


The research has mapped out the physiological traits that lead to brain swelling and ultimately AMS and HACE. Similarly, the researchers proposed a pathophysiology to HAPE. The data collected in this research was qualitative data rather than quantitative data thus numerical analysis serves no use. Instead, searching for patterns was performed as the method of data analysis. By having a collection of literature in the topic of high-altitude illness, the researchers were able to explore recurring conditions pertaining to high-altitude illness. Some of things they discovered were the presence of “increased cerebral blood volume” and “increased cerebral blood flow” that can eventually lead to brain swelling.

This is an interesting research because, unlike many other research, the researchers are not performing experiments or comparisons of variables. I find the results of this research to be useful in the scientific field because it provides knowledge that can be used for future studies since the information about high-altitude illness is limited. As for my own research, this article explains how high elevation may play a role in the well-being of people.