Healthcare providers on the frontlines: a qualitative investigation of the social and emotional impact of delivering health services during Sierra Leone’s Ebola epidemic
Although research on the epidemiology and ecology of Ebola has expanded since the 2014–15 outbreak in West Africa, less attention has been paid to the mental health implications and the psychosocial context of the disease for providers working in primary health facilities (rather than Ebola-specific treatment units).
Providers described feeling lonely, ostracized, unloved, afraid, saddened and no longer respected. They also discussed restrictions on behaviors that enhance coping including attending burials and engaging in physical touch (hugging, handshaking, sitting near, or eating with colleagues, patients and family members).
To mitigate psychiatric morbidities and maladaptive coping mechanisms—and to prevent the spread of Ebola—researchers and program planners must consider the psychosocial context of this disease and mechanisms to enhance psychological first aid to all health providers, including those in peripheral health settings.