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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

East Tennessee Studies Women Affected by Ebola

Ms Alexis Decosimo, doctoral candidate in the department of community and behavioral health in the East Tennessee State University College of Public Health and Founder/ executive director of the non-profit Playing to Live!, and Dr. Megan Quinn, assistant professor in the department of biostatistics and epidemiology, have co-authored a publication in the Journal of Social, Behavioral, and Health Sciences.  The lead author for the manuscript, “Diminished Quality of Life among Women affected by Ebola,” is Ms. Jessi Hanson, PhD research and teaching assistant at the University of Pittsburgh and cofounder of Playing to Live!.

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[Photo: Ms. Alexis Decosimo (left) and Dr. Megan Quinn]

The article analyzed survey findings regarding the quality of life of persons in households affected by Ebola, both during and after the recent epidemic in West Africa. The findings were obtained through a partnership between Playing to Live! and a Liberian non-profit organization, Renewed Energy Serving Humanity,

Data were collected from Liberian women afflicted by Ebola, both survivors of the virus and noninfected persons living in Ebola-affected homes. This research is one of the first statistical analyses examining factors diminishing quality of life: negative experiences, stigma, and psychosocial symptoms among females affected by the virus after the outbreak.

Dr. Quinn states, “Jessi and Alexis’s work in Liberia has been extremely timely and it is important in that it provides an understanding of how women were affected by the Ebola epidemic.  This study could help design future interventions to increase quality of life and reduce stigma of Ebola survivors.”

Ms. Alexis Decosimo leads Playing to Live!, a non-profit organization that works to meet the psychosocial and mental health needs in low-resource, high trauma communities globally.  The organization partners with local community based organizations to ensure the cultural relevance and sustainability of programming implemented in response to mental health in low-resource, high trauma settings.

Ms. Decosimo comments, “I am ecstatic to show the work of my nonprofit Playing to Live! (PTL), which was started during my first semester as a doctoral student of public health.”  She continues, “My education directly informed the development of PTL, even into my dissertation. Mental health during the Ebola epidemic is still scarce, and we are proud to be able to add to the body of literature.”