Project blog

Strengthening Evidence for the Scaling of Psychological First Aid in Humanitarian Settings

Grant awarded: £343.403

Lead organisation: WarTrauma Foundation

Partnering organisations: Queen Margaret University; Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; University of Makeni; Liberia Center for Outcomes Research in Mental Health (LiCORMH)

Project length: 2016-2018

Study locations: Liberia (Grand Cape Mount, Margibi and Montserrado) and Sierra Leone (Freetown, Makeni, Bo, Kenema)

Principal Investigator: Marian Tankink, WarTrauma Foundation


The overall objective of this research is to establish a sound-evidence base to inform capacity building in the Psychological First Aid (PFA) approach as a means of humanitarian emergency assistance and response.

In this research, by means of (post-hoc and prospective) analysis of PFA capacity building of Ebola response teams in Liberia and Sierra Leone, the impact of PFA will be systematically evaluated.
Subsequently, this research will help to identify key elements to maximize successful training, scaling and messaging in each country for PFA response and innovative delivery.

Given that PFA is a mechanism for developing capacity for the sharing of basic principles of psychosocial support in emergency contexts, within this research, a key focus is on the enhanced capacities of front-line responders to deliver appropriate support to beneficiaries.

Based on the outcomes of this research, a multi-method measurement strategy framework to assess impact of PFA is developed.

Expected outcomes:

The project leads to development of a multi-method measurement strategy framework to assess impact of PFA. Research outcomes can inform future processes of roll-out in both countries. Additionally, the framework can support replications in other humanitarian contexts where PFA is increasingly being adopted as well.

On the long-term, the research will enable effectiveness of other key public health issues as well, by contributing to improved understanding of effective mechanisms for facilitating community-based psychosocial support.

Based on study outcomes three articles will be published. Subjects include: 1) the study protocol, 2) factors shaping the roll-out of PFA training in the context of the EVD outbreak in both countries and perceptions of PFA-trained health providers of its value in their work and 3) the impact of PFA-training on health provider knowledge and competence.


Elrha is a registered charity in England and Wales (1177110).

Web design by Teamworks