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Degree Name

DrPH (Doctor of Public Health)


Public Health

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Deborah Slawson

Committee Members

Mary Ann Littleton, Megan Quinn


Disaster, community-wide trauma, and epidemics can have devastating effects on a child’s emotional and psychological wellbeing (Wethington, Hahn, Fuqua-Whitley et al., 2008). The 2014-2015 Liberian Ebola epidemic was detrimental to a country still recovering from a 14-year war. In Liberia alone there were 10,678 confirmed cases and 4,810 Ebola deaths (CDC, 2016). The physical, emotional, and psychological toll of this epidemic was extraordinary. An United States non-profit, Playing to Live (PTL), worked alongside the Liberian government, ministries and local and international organizations to find an innovative solution to the psychological and emotional healing of children and families most affected. This solution used best practices in expressive arts therapy, mental health, and train the trainer models. The purposes of these studies were to evaluate the process of the PTL programming, the outcome effects based on pre-and posttests of child participants psychological stress symptoms (PSS), and explore lessons learned and implications for future programming. Process evaluation results indicated positive reactions to programming from both facilitators and child participants. Results also brought forth considerations for future programming. Outcome data from the pre-and post PSS symptoms showed a significant decrease for both 5-months and 3-months of PTL programming. In addition, a significant difference on pre-and post-symptoms for the 5-month and 3-month treatment groups was found, indicating that longer treatment yields greater results. A review of best practices and lessons learned was discussed for future implications for PTL and similar programs.

Document Type

Dissertation - restricted


Copyright by the authors.