Social and cultural factors behind community resistance during an Ebola outbreak in a village of the Guinean Forest region, February 2015: a field experience

Int Health. 2016 May;8(3):227-9. doi: 10.1093/inthealth/ihw018. Epub 2016 Apr 7.


Background: During the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, community resistance obstructed case investigation and response. We investigated a cluster of Ebola cases that were hiding in the forest, refusing external help, to identify sociocultural determinants related to community resistance.

Methods: Participant observation, interviews and focus group discussions were carried out.

Results: Most villagers feared the Ebola treatment centre (ETC) as there was the belief that people were killed in ETCs for organ trade. Four survivors accompanied back to the village from the ETC shared their experiences and reassured their neighbours. Subsequently, community compliance with contact tracing improved, leading to the timely detection of cases.

Conclusions: Engaging Ebola virus disease survivors improved community compliance. Understanding the sociocultural context and community perceptions may improve community engagement and prevent Ebola virus transmission.

Keywords: Anthropology; Community; Ebola virus disease; Guinea; Outbreak; Qualitative research.

MeSH terms

  • Cluster Analysis
  • Community Participation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control*
  • Focus Groups
  • Forests
  • Guinea / epidemiology
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / epidemiology
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Observation
  • Qualitative Research
  • Sociological Factors*