The Ebola Crisis and the Corresponding Public Behavior: A System Dynamics Approach

PLoS Currents: Outbreaks
[Accessed 5 November 2016]

The Ebola Crisis and the Corresponding Public Behavior: A System Dynamics Approach
November 3, 2016 · Research Article
Background: The interaction of several sociocultural and environmental factors during an epidemic crisis leads to behavioral responses that consequently make the crisis control a complex problem.
Methods: The system dynamics approach has been adopted to study the relationships between spread of disease, public attention, situational awareness, and community’s response to the Ebola epidemic.
Results: In developing different simulation models to capture the trend of death and incidence data from the World Health Organization for the Ebola outbreak, the final model has the best fit to the historical trends. Results demonstrate that the increase of quarantining rate over time due to increase in situational awareness and performing safe burials had a significant impact on the control of epidemic. However, public attention did not play a significant role.
Conclusion: The best fit to historical data are achieved when behavioral factors specific to West Africa like studying the Situational Awareness and Public Attention are included in the model. However, by ignoring the sociocultural factors, the model is not able to represent the reality; therefore, in the case of any epidemics, it is necessary that all the parties and community members find the most significant behavioral factors that can curb the epidemic.