The Role of Fear-Related Behaviors in the 2013–2016 West Africa Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak

James M. Shultz, Janice L. Cooper, Florence Baingana, Maria A. Oquendo, Zelde Espinel, Benjamin M. Althouse, Louis H Marcelin, Sherry Towers, Maria Espinola, Clyde B McCoy, Laurie Mazurik, Milton L. Wainberg, Yuval Neria, Andreas Rechkemmer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The 2013–2016 West Africa Ebola virus disease pandemic was the largest, longest, deadliest, and most geographically expansive outbreak in the 40-year interval since Ebola was first identified. Fear-related behaviors played an important role in shaping the outbreak. Fear-related behaviors are defined as “individual or collective behaviors and actions initiated in response to fear reactions that are triggered by a perceived threat or actual exposure to a potentially traumatizing event. FRBs modify the future risk of harm.” This review examines how fear-related behaviors were implicated in (1) accelerating the spread of Ebola, (2) impeding the utilization of life-saving Ebola treatment, (3) curtailing the availability of medical services for treatable conditions, (4) increasing the risks for new-onset psychological distress and psychiatric disorders, and (5) amplifying the downstream cascades of social problems. Fear-related behaviors are identified for each of these outcomes. Particularly notable are behaviors such as treating Ebola patients in home or private clinic settings, the “laying of hands” on Ebola-infected individuals to perform faith-based healing, observing hands-on funeral and burial customs, foregoing available life-saving treatment, and stigmatizing Ebola survivors and health professionals. Future directions include modeling the onset, operation, and perpetuation of fear-related behaviors and devising strategies to redirect behavioral responses to mass threats in a manner that reduces risks and promotes resilience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104
JournalCurrent Psychiatry Reports
Volume18
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016

Fingerprint

Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever
Western Africa
Fear
Disease Outbreaks
Faith Healing
Therapeutic Touch
Burial
Social Problems
Pandemics
Psychiatry
Survivors
Psychology

Keywords

  • Ebola
  • Ebola virus disease (EVD)
  • Fear
  • Fear-related behaviors
  • Outbreak
  • Pandemic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

Shultz, J. M., Cooper, J. L., Baingana, F., Oquendo, M. A., Espinel, Z., Althouse, B. M., ... Rechkemmer, A. (2016). The Role of Fear-Related Behaviors in the 2013–2016 West Africa Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak. Current Psychiatry Reports, 18(11), [104]. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-016-0741-y

The Role of Fear-Related Behaviors in the 2013–2016 West Africa Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak. / Shultz, James M.; Cooper, Janice L.; Baingana, Florence; Oquendo, Maria A.; Espinel, Zelde; Althouse, Benjamin M.; Marcelin, Louis H; Towers, Sherry; Espinola, Maria; McCoy, Clyde B; Mazurik, Laurie; Wainberg, Milton L.; Neria, Yuval; Rechkemmer, Andreas.

In: Current Psychiatry Reports, Vol. 18, No. 11, 104, 01.11.2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Shultz, JM, Cooper, JL, Baingana, F, Oquendo, MA, Espinel, Z, Althouse, BM, Marcelin, LH, Towers, S, Espinola, M, McCoy, CB, Mazurik, L, Wainberg, ML, Neria, Y & Rechkemmer, A 2016, 'The Role of Fear-Related Behaviors in the 2013–2016 West Africa Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak', Current Psychiatry Reports, vol. 18, no. 11, 104. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-016-0741-y
Shultz, James M. ; Cooper, Janice L. ; Baingana, Florence ; Oquendo, Maria A. ; Espinel, Zelde ; Althouse, Benjamin M. ; Marcelin, Louis H ; Towers, Sherry ; Espinola, Maria ; McCoy, Clyde B ; Mazurik, Laurie ; Wainberg, Milton L. ; Neria, Yuval ; Rechkemmer, Andreas. / The Role of Fear-Related Behaviors in the 2013–2016 West Africa Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak. In: Current Psychiatry Reports. 2016 ; Vol. 18, No. 11.
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