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Ebola and healthcare worker stigma

Wester, Misse LU and Giesecke, Johan (2019) In Scandinavian Journal of Public Health 47(2). p.99-104
Abstract

Aims: Exposure to infection is a risk for all healthcare workers. This risk acquires another dimension in an outbreak of highly contagious, lethal disease, such as the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014. Healthcare workers are usually well and correctly informed about the risks from such diseases, but family, neighbours, friends, or colleagues may react strongly to the risk that staff might bring infection home from an epidemic overseas. Research around such stigmatization is scarce. We wanted to investigate how common it is, which expressions it assumes and how it is influenced by dissemination of information. Methods: We interviewed a sample of Swedish healthcare workers who had worked in West Africa during the 2014 outbreak of... (More)

Aims: Exposure to infection is a risk for all healthcare workers. This risk acquires another dimension in an outbreak of highly contagious, lethal disease, such as the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014. Healthcare workers are usually well and correctly informed about the risks from such diseases, but family, neighbours, friends, or colleagues may react strongly to the risk that staff might bring infection home from an epidemic overseas. Research around such stigmatization is scarce. We wanted to investigate how common it is, which expressions it assumes and how it is influenced by dissemination of information. Methods: We interviewed a sample of Swedish healthcare workers who had worked in West Africa during the 2014 outbreak of Ebola, as well as one close contact for each of them, about reactions before leaving and after returning, and also about information received. Results and conclusions: The majority of contact persons reported no or little concern, neither when the healthcare worker revealed the plan to leave, nor on the healthcare worker’s return. The prevailing reason was trust in the judgement of ‘their’ healthcare worker, mainly using information received from the healthcare worker to assess risks, and relying little on other information channels. This means that the person assessing the risk was at the same time the hazard. There were indications that instructions regarding quarantine and self-isolation were less stringently followed by healthcare workers than by other aid workers in the outbreak, which could give confusing signals to the public. Simple, clear and non-negotiable rules should be preferred – also from an information perspective.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
healthcare worker, infectious disease, Outbreak, risk assessment, stigma, transmission
in
Scandinavian Journal of Public Health
volume
47
issue
2
pages
99 - 104
publisher
Taylor & Francis
external identifiers
  • scopus:85042070900
ISSN
1403-4948
DOI
10.1177/1403494817753450
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
efd973fc-c15e-4421-99c9-9b800fda49a0
date added to LUP
2018-03-16 08:00:41
date last changed
2019-05-27 17:28:51
@article{efd973fc-c15e-4421-99c9-9b800fda49a0,
  abstract     = {<p>Aims: Exposure to infection is a risk for all healthcare workers. This risk acquires another dimension in an outbreak of highly contagious, lethal disease, such as the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014. Healthcare workers are usually well and correctly informed about the risks from such diseases, but family, neighbours, friends, or colleagues may react strongly to the risk that staff might bring infection home from an epidemic overseas. Research around such stigmatization is scarce. We wanted to investigate how common it is, which expressions it assumes and how it is influenced by dissemination of information. Methods: We interviewed a sample of Swedish healthcare workers who had worked in West Africa during the 2014 outbreak of Ebola, as well as one close contact for each of them, about reactions before leaving and after returning, and also about information received. Results and conclusions: The majority of contact persons reported no or little concern, neither when the healthcare worker revealed the plan to leave, nor on the healthcare worker’s return. The prevailing reason was trust in the judgement of ‘their’ healthcare worker, mainly using information received from the healthcare worker to assess risks, and relying little on other information channels. This means that the person assessing the risk was at the same time the hazard. There were indications that instructions regarding quarantine and self-isolation were less stringently followed by healthcare workers than by other aid workers in the outbreak, which could give confusing signals to the public. Simple, clear and non-negotiable rules should be preferred – also from an information perspective.</p>},
  author       = {Wester, Misse and Giesecke, Johan},
  issn         = {1403-4948},
  keyword      = {healthcare worker,infectious disease,Outbreak,risk assessment,stigma,transmission},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {99--104},
  publisher    = {Taylor & Francis},
  series       = {Scandinavian Journal of Public Health},
  title        = {Ebola and healthcare worker stigma},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1403494817753450},
  volume       = {47},
  year         = {2019},
}