CIHR Team in Social and Psychiatric Epidemiology – The Social and Psychiatric Epidemiology Catchment Area of the South West of Montreal


sud-ouest-carte-enThe CIHR Team in Social and Psychiatric Epidemiology was established in 2006 through a grant from CIHR to develop the first Epidemiological Catchment Area in Canada (ECA). These longitudinal studies have established in the 1980s the modern methods of psychiatric epidemiology in enabling a detailed picture of the prevalence of mental disorders in a general population according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III, III- R. IV, IV-TR, and V). These new population data have permitted to quantify the prevalence of mental disorders, related disabilities and adequacy of the provision of mental health services to guide national and international mental health policy.

The Social and Psychiatric Epidemiology Catchment Area of the South West of Montreal (ZEPSOM) is the only ECA in Canada and one of the few in the world. In addition to meeting the scientific quality requirements specific to ECA studies, the ZEPSOM is the only study of its kind to be based on an ecological model. A geographic information system (GIS) using different data banks from municipal, provincial and federal instances allows for more indepth analysis of  interrelations between mental health and mental disorders as well as several environmental factors from ecological contexts within the study zone.

The ZEPSOM is situated in the southwest of Montreal and has more than 258,000 residents of the neighborhoods of Dorval / Lachine, LaSalle, Pointe-St-Charles / St. Henri and Verdun. Of these, a representative sample of 2400 residents was randomly selected -600 per neighborhood – at the first cycle of the study and a second sample was recruited at 3rd cycle.

Exploited by 21 researchers and several students, The Social and Psychiatric Epidemiology Catchment Area of the South West of Montreal represents a rich pool of new knowledge for the benefit of people with mental illness. Since 2006, it develops educational opportunities and knowledge transfer mechanisms for the benefit of decision makers and knowledge’s users of Quebec health care system.

Knowledge’s translation and sharing between the ZEPSOM and the health care sector are supported by a Committee of researchers and decision makers from organizations providing mental health services within the catchment area: Douglas Hospital Research Center, Ministère de la Santé et des Services Sociaux, Centres Intégrés universitaires de Santé et Services Sociaux de l’Ouest-de-l’ile-de Montréal and the Centre-sud-de-l’ile-de-Montréal as well as the Organismes Communautaires du sud-ouest de Montréal and the Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal.


Xiangfei Meng



CIHR Team in social and psychiatric epidemiology