Risk Communication and Ebola-Specific Knowledge and Behavior during 2014-2015 Outbreak, Sierra Leone

Emerg Infect Dis. 2018 Feb;24(2):336-344. doi: 10.3201/eid2402.171028.


We assessed the effect of information sources on Ebola-specific knowledge and behavior during the 2014-2015 Ebola virus disease outbreak in Sierra Leone. We pooled data from 4 population-based knowledge, attitude, and practice surveys (August, October, and December 2014 and July 2015), with a total of 10,604 respondents. We created composite variables for exposures (information sources: electronic, print, new media, government, community) and outcomes (knowledge and misconceptions, protective and risk behavior) and tested associations by using logistic regression within multilevel modeling. Exposure to information sources was associated with higher knowledge and protective behaviors. However, apart from print media, exposure to information sources was also linked to misconceptions and risk behavior, but with weaker associations observed. Knowledge and protective behavior were associated with the outbreak level, most strongly after the peak, whereas risk behavior was seen at all levels of the outbreak. In future outbreaks, close attention should be paid to dissemination of information.

Keywords: Ebola; Risk communication; Sierra Leone; global health security.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Data Collection
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / epidemiology*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Sierra Leone / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult