Public Release: 

Quebec Government funds study of Dawson shooting impact

McGill University Health Centre

Montreal, 13 September 2007 - A year ago, the actions of a lone shooter at Dawson College resulted in a well-known tragedy: one dead, nineteen injured and hundreds traumatized. Life has continued more or less for the affected individuals, but the question remains as to how they benefited from psychological support services and how the tragedy continues to impact their daily lives. Today during a commemorative ceremony Quebec Premier, Jean Charest and Minister of Education, Leisure and Sports, Michelle Courchesne, announced a grant of $460,000 for a collaborative research project spearheaded by a team from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).

Led by Dr. Pierre Bleau, Director of the Anxiety Disorders Program of the MUHC Mental Health Mission, this project will bring together a team of psychiatric researchers : Dr. Alain Lesage, Psychiatrist at the Fernand-Seguin Research Centre at the Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital, Dr. Warren Steiner, MUHC Psychiatrist-in-Chief, and Dr. Nadia Szkrumelak, Director of the MUHC Psychiatric Outpatient Clinic.

The researchers will begin this three-phase study by measuring the impact of the shooting on the emotional and physical health of the "Dawson community." With anonymous records provided by the Régie de l'assurance maladie du Québec, among other tools, they will be able to determine any changes in how this group uses health services. The researchers will also examine the impact on the college's teaching activities by analyzing data from the Ministry of Education. This information will be provided with the strictest respect for individual anonymity.

An important component to the study will be measuring the effectiveness and adequacy of the psychological support services implemented in response to the tragedy. These services will be evaluated through individual and group interviews of the health care personnel involved and the victims. "No one has studied closely the impact of this kind of psychological follow-up, and we may discover treatment gaps that we can use as opportunities for improvement," stated Dr. Steiner.

The data and analyses will then help establish a standard response protocol to crisis situations in a school setting. "The Dawson shooting forced us to define a methodology on the fly because procedures for this kind of situation do not exist," explained Dr. Steiner. "Our goal now is to create an effective procedure to follow if this should ever happen again."


This study will be carried out in collaboration with the Crime Victims Assistance Centre (CAVAC) and the Centre de Santé et des Services sociaux de la Montagne.

The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programs, research and teaching. The MUHC is a merger of five teaching hospitals affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University--the Montreal Children's, Montreal General, Royal Victoria, and Montreal Neurological Hospitals, as well as the Montreal Chest Institute. Building on the tradition of medical leadership of the founding hospitals, the goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field, and to contribute to the development of new knowledge.

The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) is a world-renowned biomedical and health-care hospital research centre. Located in Montreal, Quebec, the institute is the research arm of the MUHC, a university health center affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. The institute supports over 500 researchers, nearly 1000 graduate and post-doctoral students and operates more than 300 laboratories devoted to a broad spectrum of fundamental and clinical research. The Research Institute operates at the forefront of knowledge, innovation and technology and is inextricably linked to the clinical programs of the MUHC, ensuring that patients benefit directly from the latest research-based knowledge. For further details visit:

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