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Utilisation of and Attitude Towards Traditional and Complementary Medicine Among Ebola Survivors in Sierra Leone


Utilisation of and Attitude Towards Traditional and Complementary Medicine Among Ebola Survivors in Sierra Leone

Peter Bai James et al. Medicina (Kaunas).


Background and objectives: In addition to conventional healthcare, Ebola survivors are known to seek traditional and complementary healthcare (T&CM) options to meet their healthcare needs. However, little is known about the general beliefs of Ebola survivors regarding T&CM and the impact of these beliefs in influencing their decisions around T&CM use. This study examines Ebola survivors' attitudes towards T&CM use in Sierra Leone. Materials and Methods: We conducted a nationwide quantitative cross-sectional study of 358 Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone between January and August 2018. We used descriptive analysis, chi-square tests and backward stepwise binary logistic regression for data analysis. Results: Close to half of the survivors (n = 163, 45.5%) had used T&CM since their discharge from an Ebola treatment centre. Survivors who viewed T&CM as boosting their immune system/resistance were 3.89 times (95%CI: 1.57-9.63, p = 0.003) more likely to use T&CM than those who did not view T&CM as boosting their immune system/resistance. Additionally, survivors who viewed T&CM as having fewer side effects than conventional medicine were more likely to use T&CM [OR = 5.03 (95%CI: 1.92-13.19, p = 0.001)]. Ebola survivors were more influenced to use T&CM based on their personal experience of the effectiveness of T&CM than by clinical evidence [OR = 13.72 (95%CI: 6.10-30.84, P < 0.001)]. Ebola survivors who perceived T&CM as providing them with more control than conventional medicine over their health/body were more likely to use T&CM [OR = 4.15 (95%CI: 1.74-9.89, p = 0.001)] as opposed to those who did not perceive T&CM in this way. Conclusions: Considering the widespread use of T&CM, an understanding of Ebola survivors' attitudes/beliefs towards T&CM is useful to healthcare providers and policymakers with regard to public education and practitioner-survivors communication, T&CM regulation and research in Sierra Leone. Ebola survivors appear to turn to T&CM not only for treatment, but also to fill gaps in conventional health care services.

Keywords: Ebola; Ebola survivors; Sierra Leone; attitude; beliefs; complementary medicine; traditional medicine.

Conflict of interest statement

Jon Wardle is a guest editor of Medicina. The other authors have no conflict of interest whatsoever.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Location of the five sampled districts (Bo District, Kenema District, Bombali District, Western Area Urban District and Western Area Rural District) in Sierra Leone.

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