The Journal of Health Communication has published a special supplement examining the role of communication, community engagement, and social mobilisation during and after the Ebola response. The collection of articles reflects some of the work at the early stage of the outbreak during a period of great uncertainty and urgent need, as well as research accounts and in-depth analysis of communication strategies developed and implemented throughout and towards the end of the outbreak. As explained in the introductory article, “The articles reflect stages of the research and practice response as it unfolded at the time: the early use of conceptual frameworks to organize thinking and analysis; conducting rapid formative research to understand the dynamics of the affected communities; understanding the role of local communication media; implementing strategies for community engagement, service delivery, and trust building; and applying lessons from the Ebola experience to other health issues.”
Although the articles are focused on the Ebola experience in West Africa, “the observations and recommendations conveyed in the articles will be of interest to a broad range of public health practitioners. They propose, for example, that communities be regarded as experts in their own culture and as sources of solutions and innovation. They maintain that communication is most effective when information is conveyed by individuals who are known and trusted by communities and when communication channels encourage participatory dialogue. They suggest that care is taken to appreciate the impact of social media and new communication technologies - and to use these means sensitively. They indicate the ways in which efforts to reach marginalized or out-of-reach communities (whether due to economic, political, geographic, or social factors) should take their literacy, language, and access to technology into account” (from the Preface).
The articles contained in this special edition are as follows:
Community Engagement and the Communication Response to Ebola - J. Douglas Storey, Ketan Chitnis , Rafael Obregon & Kama Garrison
A Theory-Based Socioecological Model of Communication and Behavior for the Containment of the Ebola Epidemic in Liberia - Maria Elena Figueroa
Health Communication in the Time of Ebola: A Culture-Centered Interrogation - Shaunak Sastry & Mohan J. Dutta
Use of SMS-Based Surveys in the Rapid Response to the Ebola Outbreak in Liberia: Opening Community Dialogue - Amanda Berman, Maria Elena Figueroa & J. Douglas Storey
Facilitators and Barriers to Community Acceptance of Safe, Dignified Medical Burials in the Context of an Ebola Epidemic, Sierra Leone, 2014 - Seung Hee Lee-Kwan, Nickolas DeLuca, Rebecca Bunnell, Heather B. Clayton, Alhaji Sayui Turay & Yayah Mansaray
Barriers and Enablers to Treatment-Seeking Behavior and Causes of High-Risk Practices in Ebola: A Case Study From Sierra Leone - Simone E. Carter , Marion O’Reilly, Vivien Walden, Jack Frith-Powell, Alpha Umar Kargbo & Eva Niederberger
The Development of Standard Operating Procedures for Social Mobilization and Community Engagement in Sierra Leone During the West Africa Ebola Outbreak of 2014–2015 - Danielle Pedi, Amaya Gillespie, Jamie Bedson, Mohamed F. Jalloh, Mohammad B. Jalloh, Alusine Kamara, Kathryn Bertram, Katharine Owen, Mohamed A. Jalloh & Lansana Conte
Digital Health Communication and Global Public Influence: A Study of the Ebola Epidemic - Hal Roberts, Brittany Seymour, Sands Alden Fish II, Emily Robinson & Ethan Zuckerman
The Opposite of Denial: Social Learning at the Onset of the Ebola Emergency in Liberia - Sharon Abramowitz , Sarah Lindley McKune, Mosoka Fallah, Josephine Monger, Kodjo Tehoungue & Patricia A. Omidian
Treatment Seeking and Ebola Community Care Centers in Sierra Leone: A Qualitative Study - Simone E. Carter , Marion O’Reilly, Jack Frith-Powell, Alpha Umar Kargbo, Daniel Byrne & Eva Niederberger
Community-Led Total Sanitation, Open Defecation Free Status, and Ebola Virus Disease in Lofa County, Liberia - Jean Meyer Capps , Haron Njiru & Pieter deVries
Community Engagement in Liberia: Routine Immunization Post-Ebola - Juliet Bedford , Ketan Chitnis , Nance Webber, Phil Dixon, Ken Limwame , Rania Elessawi & Rafael Obregon
The preparation of this Special Issue was facilitated by the U.S. Agency for International Development Cooperative Agreement to the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs through the Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (HC3) project, and by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
HC3 website on September 6 2017.
Image credit: Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (HC3)