An evaluation of psychological distress and social support of survivors and contacts of Ebola virus disease infection and their relatives in Lagos, Nigeria: a cross sectional study--2014

BMC Public Health. 2015 Aug 27:15:824. doi: 10.1186/s12889-015-2167-6.


Background: By September 2014, an outbreak of Ebola Viral Disease (EVD) in West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Nigeria, had recorded over 4500 and 2200 probable or confirmed cases and deaths respectively. EVD, an emerging infectious disease, can create fear and panic among patients, contacts and relatives, which could be a risk factor for psychological distress. Psychological distress among this subgroup could have public health implication for control of EVD, because of potential effects on patient management and contact tracing. We determined the Prevalence, pattern and factors associated with psychological distress among survivors and contacts of EVD and their relatives.

Methods: In a descriptive cross sectional study, we used General Health Questionnaire to assess psychological distress and Oslo Social Support Scale to assess social support among 117 participants who survived EVD, listed as EVD contacts or their relatives at Ebola Emergency Operation Center in Lagos, Nigeria. Factors associated with psychological distress were determined using chi square/odds ratio and adjusted odds ratio.

Results: The mean age and standard deviation of participants was 34 +/ - 9.6 years. Of 117 participants, 78 (66.7%) were females, 77 (65.8%) had a tertiary education and 45 (38.5%) were health workers. Most frequently occurring psychological distress were inability to concentrate (37.6%) and loss of sleep over worry (33.3%). Losing a relation to EVD outbreak (OR = 6.0, 95% CI, 1.2-32.9) was significantly associated with feeling unhappy or depressed while being a health worker was protective (OR = 0.4, 95% CI, 0.2-0.9). Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) showed losing a relation (AOR = 5.7, 95% CI, 1.2-28.0) was a predictor of "feeling unhappy or depressed", loss of a relation (AOR = 10.1, 95% CI, 1.7-60.7) was a predictor of inability to concentrate.

Conclusions: Survivors and contacts of EVD and their relations develop psychological distress. Development of psychological distress could be predicted by loss of family member. It is recommended that psychiatrists and other mental health specialists be part of case management teams. The clinical teams managing EVD patients should be trained on recognition of common psychological distress among patients. A mental health specialist should review contacts being monitored for EVD for psychological distress or disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Communicable Diseases, Emerging
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / epidemiology
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nigeria
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Support*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Young Adult