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Open AccessArticle

A Salutogenic Approach to Disaster Recovery: The Case of the Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster

Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC J1H5N4, Canada
Eastern Townships Public Health Department, Sherbrooke, QC J1H1R3, Canada
Health Technology and Social Services Assessment Unit, Eastern Townships Integrated University Health and Social Services Centre, Sherbrooke, QC J1H 4C4, Canada
Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5, Canada
Department of Human and Social Sciences, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Saguenay, QC G7H2B1, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(5), 1463;
Received: 29 January 2020 / Revised: 20 February 2020 / Accepted: 20 February 2020 / Published: 25 February 2020
In July 2013, a train carrying crude oil derailed in Lac-Mégantic (Canada). This disaster provoked a major fire, 47 deaths, the destruction of 44 buildings, a massive evacuation, and an unparalleled oil spill. Since 2013, Public Health has undertaken several actions to address this challenging situation, using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Community-based surveys were conducted in Lac-Mégantic in 2014, 2015 and 2018. The first two surveys showed persistent and widespread health needs. Inspired by a salutogenic approach, Public Health has shifted its focus from health protection to health promotion. In 2016, a Day of Reflection was organized during which a map of community assets and an action plan for the community recovery were co-constructed with local stakeholders. The creation of an Outreach Team is an important outcome of this collective reflection. This team aims to enhance resilience and adaptive capacity. Several promising initiatives arose from the action plan—all of which greatly contributed to mobilize the community. Interestingly, the 2018 survey suggests that the situation is now evolving positively. This case study stresses the importance of recognizing community members as assets, rather than victims, and seeking a better balance between health protection and health promotion approaches. View Full-Text
Keywords: disaster; psychosocial impacts; community resilience disaster; psychosocial impacts; community resilience
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MDPI and ACS Style

Généreux, M.; Roy, M.; O’Sullivan, T.; Maltais, D. A Salutogenic Approach to Disaster Recovery: The Case of the Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 1463.

AMA Style

Généreux M, Roy M, O’Sullivan T, Maltais D. A Salutogenic Approach to Disaster Recovery: The Case of the Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(5):1463.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Généreux, Mélissa; Roy, Mathieu; O’Sullivan, Tracey; Maltais, Danielle. 2020. "A Salutogenic Approach to Disaster Recovery: The Case of the Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster" Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 17, no. 5: 1463.

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