Exploring the psychological support for humanitarian workers: clinicians who responded to the Ebola crisis

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Exploring the psychological support for humanitarian workers: clinicians who responded to the Ebola crisis

Exploring the psychological support for humanitarian workers: clinicians who responded to the Ebola crisis in West Africa 2014-2016


You are invited to take part in this research study. Joining the study is entirely up to you, before you decide please take some time to understand why the research is being done and what it would involve for you by reading this information sheet. Please feel free to talk to others about the study if you wish. The first part of the Participant Information Sheet tells you the purpose of the research and what will happen if you take part. Then you will be given more detailed information about the conduct of the study. Please do not hesitate to ask if anything is unclear.


This study seeks to explore what psychological support was available for UK based clinicians who responded to the Ebola crisis of 2014 to 2016 in West Africa, and how this affected their deployment at all stages. This study will be done in the form of in depth interviews. You will have one interview, either in person or on Skype, and the interview will take approximately one hour. To participate in this study you must be a UK based clinician (not required to be currently practicing), who travelled to West Africa as a clinical humanitarian worker for the Ebola response between 2014 and 2016. This study will involve between 10 and 12 participants.

Purpose to the research and invitation:

The nature of this research is qualitative and data will be collected through in depth interviews. The purpose of the research is to explore what psychological support was available for clinicians who contributed to the Ebola response and how this support affected them pre-deployment, during deployment, and post-deployment. For the psychological support offered post-deployment, this study will be looking at the support available for clinicians immediately upon return to the UK and up until now. There will also be part of the interview that explores the support clinicians received from their families and friends.

What Would Taking Part Involve:

  • The study will begin in May 2017 and the write up of the results will be completed at the end of August 2017.
  • You will be asked to take part in ONE in person or Skype interview that will take approximately ONE HOUR. This interview will be recorded and transcribed by the principle investigator.
  • The interviews will take place at a location of your choosing, the only restriction being that they may not take place on NHS premises. This limitation is because you will in no way be interviewed in your capacity as an NHS clinician.
  • You are welcome to invite a third party of your choosing to accompany you to the interview should this make you more comfortable.
  • The interviewer will be the MSc student conducting this study.
  • The information collected will be about your experience during the Ebola response and the psychological support available to you at all stages of deployment. There will also be questions how family and friends affected your deployment.
  • The transcripts will not be available to anyone, except the MSc student conducting this study unless the opportunity to publish arises. In the case of publication, a second coder may have access to these transcripts.
  • The write-up of the data will be publically available through the LSHTM library. Confidentiality of all participants will be protected. No names, identifying features, or names of the participants’ employers (past or present) will be used or shared.

What are the possible benefits of taking part?

The benefit of taking part in this study would be to add to the evidence base on the topic of psychological support for humanitarian workers to help formulate policy and provide guidelines to organisations that send volunteers into humanitarian crises. It is also an opportunity for participants to share their experiences and feelings about the subject.

What are the possible risks of taking part?

Risk to confidentiality: Although personal experiences and employers will be discussed, the anonymity of you and your employers will be maintained as far as possible. There will be no names or identifying features of you or your employer used in the transcripts of the interview or the write up of the data. You are also not required to provide such identifying information in order to take part in this study. You may also ask that specific information is not included.

Psychological risk: The interviews may touch upon sensitive memories for you, as the questions are specifically investigating potentially challenging experiences and mental health issues. Should this become an issue for you, you may stop the interview at any time and withdraw yourself from the study.  You are also welcome to invite a third party of your choice to the interview. In addition, it is recommended, should you feel you would like to speak with a trained mental health professional after the interview, that you contact the provider of your choice or the NHS mental health services: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/counselling/pages/introduction.aspx

Withdrawal from the study:

Your decision to take part in this study is completely voluntary. Should you wish to withdraw from the study, you may do so at any time and all information provided by you will be destroyed and will not be used in any way.

What will happen to the results of this study? As the interviews being conducted are the basis for a MSc dissertation, firstly the study will be marked by academic staff at The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Kings College London. The author has no plans at this time to publish the study, but it is the hope that it is published for the optimal use of this data. After completing the study and submitting the dissertation, Ms Hudson may wish to publish the results in a peer-reviewed journal. Anonymity of all interviewees will be maintained in future publication.

Funding: The principle investigator is receiving no funding or sponsoring for this work.

Who has reviewed this study? All research involving human participants is looked at by an independent group of people, called a Research Ethics Committee, to protect your interests. This study has been reviewed and given favourable opinion by The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Ethics Committee.

Consent process: You will be given and asked to sign a Participant Consent Form prior to participating in any way. You will be given a copy of this form and a copy of this information sheet to keep for their personal records.

If you have a concern about any aspect of this study, please speak with the researcher, Louisa Hudson, who will do her best to answer your questions [louisa.hudson@kcl.ac.uk].