Background: In February 2014, the first Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) case in West Africa was confirmed in the Republic of Guinea. It then quickly spread to neighbouring countries, and became the largest Ebola outbreak ever. By March 2016, there was reported 28,639 cases of EVD and 11,316 deaths worldwide. As the largest humanitarian network in the world, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) played an active role in stopping the spread of the deadly virus. IFRC also provided psychosocial support to affected families, and assisted in the management of dead bodies. Previous research concerning the Ebola outbreak has focused on practical guidance, such as protective equipment, protective behaviours infection control and emergency management. Very few studies have focused on health care staff’s own experiences from caring for these patients under very extreme conditions. Nurses play a key role in global disaster response at disaster centers, nevertheless, they are often not prepared for the challenges they are facing and what nursing skills that are required by nurses who are first responders to a disaster situation.
Objectives: To investigate how returnee nursing staff experienced their deployment before, during and after having worked at an Ebola Treatment Center (ETC) during an acute viral haemorrhagic fever (VHF) outbreak, and to supply knowledge on how to better prepare health care staff for future VHF outbreaks.
Design: A cross-sectional approach.
Participants: Nurses having returned after working with Ebola patients at an ETC in Kenema, Sierra Leone, during 2014 and 2015.
Measurements: Data were collected through a self-administered questionnaire via mail covering aspects of pre-deployment training, personal health and stress management, leadership styles and knowledge transfer, socio-cultural exposure, and attitudes from others when returning home.
Results: Before employment, there is a need for practical exercises specific for the task, and information adapted to the mission. Further, information to family and colleagues can be deepen. During employment, the participants are in need of interpersonal contacts, team work and strong dynamics. After deployment there is a need for mental health support and hands-on coping strategies.
Conclusions: Participants stressed the importance of mental health support combined with psychosocial care after deployment. There is also a need for more specific practical training. An active dialogue and communication with colleagues were perceived as primordial, and information given to family and colleagues was relevant but not sufficient.
8th Young Researchers' Forum - ASPHER - EPH Conference, Vienna, November 10, 2016.