The largest outbreak of Ebola virus disease ever started in West Africa in December 2013; it created a pressing need to expand the workforce dealing with it. The aim of this study was to gain insight into the experiences of volunteers from the European Union who worked in deployable laboratories in West Africa during the outbreak. This study is part of the EMERGE project. We assessed the experiences of 251 volunteers with a 19-item online questionnaire. The questions asked about positive aspects of volunteering such as learning new skills, establishing a new path in life, and changing life values. Other questionnaire subjects were the compliance to follow-up measures, the extent to which volunteers felt these measures restricted their daily activities, the fear of stigmatization, and worries about becoming infected or infecting their families. The volunteers reported positive effects that reached far beyond their daily work, such as changes in life priorities and a greater appreciation of the value of their own lives. Although the volunteers did not feel that temperature monitoring restricted their daily activities, full compliance to temperature monitoring and reporting it to the authorities was low. The volunteers did not fear Ebola infection for themselves or their families and were not afraid of stigmatization. With respect to the burden on the families, 50% reported that their family members were worried that the volunteer would be infected with Ebola virus. Altogether, the positive experiences of the volunteers in this study far outweigh the negative implications and constitute an important argument for inspiring people who intend to join such missions and for motivating the hesitant ones.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0196320, hdl.handle.net/1765/106126
Journal PLoS ONE
Citation
Belfroid, E. (Evelien), Mollers, M. (Madelief), Smit, P.W. (Pieter W.), Hulscher, M.E.J.L, Koopmans, M.P.G, D.V.M., Reusken, C.B.E.M, & Timen, A. (2018). Positive experiences of volunteers working in deployable laboratories in West Africa during the Ebola outbreak. PLoS ONE, 13(4). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0196320