Behavioral Health Support for Patients, Families, and Healthcare Workers

  • David S. CatesEmail author
  • Paula G. Gomes
  • Arthur M. Krasilovsky


During the 2014–2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, over 850 healthcare workers contracted Ebola, and over 500 died. These tragic numbers underscore the need for strict adherence to infection control precautions when caring for patients with Ebola and other diseases that are both highly infectious and potentially fatal. In addition to the use of personal protection equipment (PPE), such measures include source isolation of infected patients. In the process of confining infectious pathogens, however, it is essential that health systems do not overlook the psychological needs of patients nor that of the medical staff who care for them. This chapter is divided into two sections. The first explores the experiences of patients cared for in source isolation, highlighting the possible iatrogenic psychological consequences of treatment in a biocontainment unit. Strategies for mitigating the potentially harmful psychological effects of isolation are reviewed, including considerations for children. The second section considers the experiences of healthcare workers. The discussion outlines the psychological impact of treating patients with infectious diseases, risk factors for emotional distress, and strategies to promote psychological well-being and resilience.


Source isolation Psychological effects Contact precautions Anxiety Depression Infection control Healthcare workers Biocontainment Patient experience Nursing Self-care Children Family members 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David S. Cates
    • 1
    Email author
  • Paula G. Gomes
    • 2
  • Arthur M. Krasilovsky
    • 2
  1. 1.Behavioral HealthNebraska Medicine/University of Nebraska Medical CenterOmahaUSA
  2. 2.Faculty Staff Assistance ProgramEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA

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