This paper summarises a project based in Sierra Leone in 2015 to develop a greater understanding of public perceptions, attitudes and behaviours associated with the 2014-15 West African Ebola outbreak. The study involved focus group discussions in four locations across Sierra Leone, chosen based on their epidemiological profiles during the outbreak.

Image: Map showing the number of focus group discussions that took place in areas across Sierra Leone | Nuriddin et al, 2018

Participants were asked their opinions on four topics:

  • Trust in the healthcare system

  • Interactions with Ebola survivors

  • The impacts of Ebola on lives and livelihoods

  • Barriers and facilitators to ending the outbreak

Findings show that community perceptions of these topics varied over time, with trust in the healthcare system, for example, increasing as disease incidence decreased. Different community groups also had differing perceptions, with results influenced by factors such as the number of women in the discussion group and past personal experience of patient-healthcare worker interactions. The authors argue that the deeper understanding of public perceptions of the disease and its impacts can help support more targeted social mobilisation campaigns in future outbreaks.

Read the full paper here (PDF) for more detail on each of the topics and the results.

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