UK healthcare workers are being encouraged to complete a survey about helping with the Ebola outbreak in west Africa.
The results will help to identify and, therefore, address any modifiable barriers there might be.
So far, in the UK 800 people have volunteered to go to west Africa, but Tom Solomon and colleagues from the Institute of Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool say this is far short of the thousands more that are needed.
In a letter to The BMJ, they say they are launching the survey to better understand the factors that hold people back from signing up.
They hope this will identify any modifiable barriers that policy makers and those recruiting staff could potentially address. "This would encourage more healthcare workers to volunteer in west Africa, which should in turn help lead to a swifter end to the epidemic," they write.
They point out that a range of factors may influence healthcare workers' decisions on going to west Africa. Some of these, such as fear of becoming infected or personal home circumstances, are not easily changed, they say. "But there are other factors, which potentially could be dealt with if it were clear that they are important. These might include reassurance about the training to be given, clarity over payment and backfill of posts, and allaying uncertainties over repatriation for anyone who becomes unwell."
The survey is part of a programme of work the University is undertaking to help tackle Ebola. This includes tracking the risk of further disease spread to developing new treatments.
Bringing the outbreak under control, "would not only benefit the people of west Africa but also help to protect the UK from imported cases," they say – and they encourage all UK healthcare workers to complete the survey, which can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/s/HPRUebola.