Post-Ebola psychosocial experiences and coping mechanisms among Ebola survivors: a systematic review

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Tropical Medicine and International Health, 2019, 24 (6), pp. 671 - 691
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© 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd Objective: A myriad of physical and psychosocial sequelae have been reported among Ebola survivors from previous Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreaks, including the most recent in West Africa. This review examines the various forms of psychological distress experienced by EVD survivors, family and community reactions to EVD survivors and EVD survivors’ coping mechanisms. Methods: We conducted a literature search of original articles employing Medline (Ovid), PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, CINAHL, EBSCO host academic search complete, PsycINFO (EBSCO) and Embase databases. Results: Our search identified 1890 articles of which 24 met our inclusion criteria. Various forms of psychological distress were prevalent among EVD survivors including depression, anxiety, anger, grief, guilt, flashbacks, sadness, worthlessness, substance addiction, suicidal tendencies and self-stigmatisation. Family and community responses to EVD survivors ranged from acceptance to rejection, isolation, stigmatisation and discrimination. EVD survivors’ coping strategies included engagement with religious faith, EVD survivors associations and involvement in EVD prevention and control interventions. Conclusion: Psychological distress, including that resulting from family and community stigma and discrimination, appears common among EVD survivors. Community-based mental health and psychosocial interventions integrated within a broader package of care for EVD survivors that also recognises the physical health challenges are required. Well-designed longitudinal studies can provide clear insights on the nature and trajectory of the psychosocial issues currently experienced by EVD survivors.
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