Principal Investigator: Joop de Jong, Universiteit Amsterdam
The research aimed to systematically evaluate Psychological First Aid (PFA), a WHO-recommended approach to providing humane, supportive and practical help to people who have suffered serious crisis events. It sought to investigate whether and how PFA strengthens the provision of effective mental health and psychosocial support to acutely distressed beneficiaries in humanitarian crises. The study sought to retrospectively investigate the widespread deployment of PFA approaches in the Ebola outbreaks in West Africa and, prospectively, its planned roll-out across the health sectors in Sierra Leone. The focus was on those trained to use the PFA approach, and how this training influenced their knowledge and practice, rather than on the effects of the PFA approach on those who received support.
The study team aimed to develop a framework for collating evidence of the impact of PFA training on those who offered support to people affected by crises. Findings were expected to establish a sound evidence-base to inform subsequent capacity building in the PFA approach as a means of humanitarian emergency preparedness and response. The study sought to identify key elements required to maximise successful training, scaling and messaging of PFA, with a particular focus on the enhanced capacities of front-line responders to deliver appropriate support to beneficiaries.
The first phase of the study conducted qualitative interviews with a sample of those trained as PFA trainers or who had participated in PFA training during the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone and Liberia. This was followed by a second phase prospective Randomised Controlled Trial in Sierra Leone, which investigated the effects of PFA training on healthcare providers’ knowledge, attitude and skills in relation to providing support to individuals in distress. A survey was conducted at three time periods with 400 healthcare providers in five districts across Sierra Leone, half of whom were trained in PFA after the baseline survey, and the other half of whom were trained after the research had ended. The survey was designed to assess retention of PFA knowledge, ability to apply this knowledge in hypothetical scenarios, professional attitude, confidence in administering psychosocial support following adversities and whether providers themselves had an improved professional quality of life.
The research findings are expected to contribute towards adaptations to how PFA training will be provided in future by War Trauma Foundation and other PFA delivery organisations.
The Effect of Psychological First Aid Training on Knowledge and Understanding about Psychosocial Support Principles: A Cluster-Randomized Controlled TrialView
The Myth Of The 1-Day Training: The Effectiveness Of Psychosocial Support Capacity-Building During The Ebola Outbreak In West AfricaView
Strengthening Evidence for the Scaling of Psychological First Aid in Humanitarian Settings Sharing the findings in Sierra Leone Our Elrha funded study on the ways in which Psychological First Aid…View
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