Ebola virus disease: caring for patients in Sierra Leone – a qualitative study
Abstract Aim The aim of this study was to describe Norwegian healthcare staffs’ experiences of participating in care of patients with Ebola virus disease in Sierra Leone. Background Ebola is one of the most feared viruses known. Ebola virus disease is highly contagious with high mortality. The few qualitative studies made on experiences among healthcare professionals have highlighted problems as lack of protective resources, insufficient personnel and risk of societal stigmatization. Design Descriptive study with qualitative approach. Method Individual narrative and focus group interviews were obtained during 2015 with eight nurses and one physician who had worked in Ebola care in Sierra Leone. The interviews were analysed using qualitative content analysis. Result The analysis resulted in the two themes: ‘Experiencing security by learning to manage risks’; and ‘Developing courage and growth by facing personal fears’. Subthemes were: ‘Relying on safeguard actions’, ‘Managing risk of contagion’, ‘Developing strategies for care despite risks’, ‘Constantly reminded of death’, ‘Successively defeating fears’ and last, ‘Increasing motivation through meaningfulness’. The participants described the reliance on training, organized effort, strict guidelines and equipment. They were respectful of the risk of transmission, made risk assessments, took responsibility, handled risky situations and were reminded of suffering and death. Conclusion Despite challenges, the hazardous work with Ebola virus disease patients was experienced as meaningful which was an important motivator. Safe care was central in working with Ebola patients, but the care relation was challenged.
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