The lasting influence of Ebola: a qualitative study of community-level behaviors, trust, and perceptions three years after the 2014-16 Ebola epidemic in Liberia

Ronan F. Arthur*, Lily M. Horng, Amos F. Tandanpolie, John R. Gilstad, Lucy K. Tantum, Stephen P. Luby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The majority of disease transmission during the 2014-16 West Africa Ebola epidemic was driven by community-based behaviors that proved difficult to change in a social paradigm of misinformation, denial, and deep-seated distrust of government representatives and institutions. In Liberia, perceptions and beliefs about Ebola during and since the epidemic can provide insights useful to public health strategies aimed at improving community preparedness. In this 2018 study, we conducted nine focus groups with Liberians from three communities who experienced Ebola differently, to evaluate behaviors, attitudes, and trust during and after the epidemic. Focus group participants reported that some behaviors adopted during Ebola have persisted (e.g. handwashing and caretaking practices), while others have reverted (e.g. physical proximity and funeral customs); and reported ongoing distrust of the government and denial of the Ebola epidemic. These findings suggest that a lack of trust in the biomedical paradigm and government health institutions persists in Liberia. Future public health information campaigns may benefit from community engagement addressed at understanding beliefs and sources of trust and mistrust in the community to effect behavior change and improve community-level epidemic preparedness.

Original languageEnglish
Article number682
JournalBMC Public Health
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Community trust
  • Ebola Virus Disease
  • Liberia
  • Misinformation
  • Social epidemic preparedness

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The lasting influence of Ebola: a qualitative study of community-level behaviors, trust, and perceptions three years after the 2014-16 Ebola epidemic in Liberia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this