With the threat of terrorist activities, both in the US and abroad, countries are forced to develop both short and long-term response strategies in the event of a bioterrorist attack or threat. These response strategies must also include early detection and prevention. Behavioural and psychological impacts of bioterrorism associated with the risk of massive outbreaks of human illnesses and death may well be the most widespread, long-last and costly consequence. Infrastructures required to address chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats or attacks include federal and local governments, police, fire and other emergency services, hospitals and specialized laboratories.

The McLaughlin Centre in partnership with Gap Santé has developed the Psychosocial and Bioenvironmental Risk Assessment and Management Tools project to develop strategies to deal with psychosocial impacts following CBRN

threats and attacks. This proposal seeks to understand and mitigate the psychosocial impacts arising from social disruption, stress, panic, acute individual trauma, and anticipated behavioural changes. The proposed program aims to develop an integrated psychosocial and bioenvironmental risk management framework for biological agents and practical field based training tools to enhance the capability of first responders to mitigate the human health and psychosocial impacts of bioterrorist threats and attacks. The Psychosocial Risk Assessment and Management Module includes surveys, field work and natural laboratory experiments to assess CBRN risk perceptions among Canadians.

Following the events of 9-11, Canada invested in the development of research to provide capacity and necessary infrastructure in response to terrorism. Under this premise, the McLaughlin Centre, in partnership with Gap Santé is conducting the Perception of Bioterrorist/Pandemic Influenza Risk by Canadian Nurses project. This project uses Canada’s experience with SARS as a model for a bioterrorist attack (infectious respiratory agent) to ascertain our hospital’s readiness, plans and preparedness emphasizing mechanisms in place to support health care workers. This project plans a multipronged approach including assessment of pandemic and emergency plans at multiple jurisdictions, focus groups with Canadian nurses (Ottawa (2), Toronto, Halifax and Vancouver), a risk perception survey of emergency room and ICU nurses across Canada, development of a sex and gender based analysis, the development of a risk framework and a policy forum.