Principal Investigators: Phuong Pham & Patrick Vinck; Brigham and Women's Hospital
The study will investigate public perceptions and behaviours of populations in eastern DRC in response to the current EVD outbreak and response. Key research topics include identification of the most important factors influencing adherence to Ebola risk reduction and avoidance behaviours; community knowledge of Ebola vaccination, treatment, and survival/prognosis; understanding how perceptions of the response affect Ebola-related behaviours; and how Ebola Risk Communication and Community Engagement strategies effect perceptions.
Social and behavioral sciences and community engagement are essential to any infectious disease outbreak response. In DRC, we have a unique ability to engage communities in assessing and monitoring critical elements for the control of the Ebola outbreak, like trust, misinformation or behaviour changes. We seek to understand why some people seek care and others don’t, why some accept vaccines and others don’t. Understanding the socio-behavioral factors that shape the response to outbreaks is the starting point for co-creating interventions that actually succeed at mobilizing communities for the rapid containment of outbreaks
The study findings will be rapidly shared with operational partners in the current EVD outbreak and provide essential information on community attitudes to inform the on-going response. The research will improve Ebola responders’ understanding of community perceptions of the outbreak and response; identify and monitor factors driving risk-adherence and risk-modification behaviours; support more coordinated approaches to Ebola-related community assessments; and support local researchers conducting data collection and analysis.
The project employs a multi-stage explanatory sequential mixed-method research approach that includes two quantitative surveys among communities affected by or at-risk of Ebola. To further understand the complex drivers of behaviours and practices, the team will conduct focus group discussions (FGDs) and key informant interviews before and after each survey.
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