François Bourque

Study program:
Ph.D. Epidemiology and Social Psychiatry
Current affiliation:
Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London

François is exploring social determinants of mental health in migrant and ethnic minority groups.

A Mixed Methods Study of the Relation between Immigration, Social Environment and Psychosis among Migrant and Ethnic Minority Groups in different European contexts, including London (UK), Amsterdam (the Netherlands) and Paris (France)

Current evidence indicates that first- and second-generation immigrants are at higher risk for psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia. In addition, this risk appears to vary across ethnic groups and social contexts. My doctoral proposal seeks to disentangle the relation between migration and psychostic disorders and to explore how social contexts contribute to the onset of psychosis among migrants and ethnic minorities.  Attached to a large-scale European Union study on the incidence of psychotic disorders, this mixed methods study includes a population-based component that will examine the risk of psychosis among first- and second-generation immigrants in four European countries. Nested in the epidemiological study, a qualitative component will explore how the social experience and the sense of identity and inclusion of migrants might have contributed to the onset of their illness in each host society context. It is hoped that converging qualitative and quantitative data will yield new perspectives and a deeper understanding of this important health problem.

A certified psychiatrist since 2008, François Bourque has since then completed a two-year clinician-investigator fellowship in first episode of psychosis and cultural psychiatry at McGill University, as a Fonds de recherche en santé Québec scholar. In 2010, he was awarded a Master of Science degree for a thesis on the risk of psychosis among first- and second-generation immigrants.

Having tackled medical and musical studies at the same time, François Bourque has a doctoral degree in medicine and a master's in piano performance from the Laval University, as well as an undergraduate diploma in music from the Conservatoire de Musique de Québec. Still musically active, he hopes with his fellow musicians and physicians to build bridges between arts and and healthcare and help battle the stigma of mental illness.

Very engaged in the field of physician health and wellbeing, Doctor Bourque has long been involved in the Federation of Medical Residents of Quebec  as Chair of the Resident Wellness Committee. He strives to to promote a healthier medical culture in order to improve the health of tomorrow's doctors. In 2007, the Canadian Association of Interns and Residents granted him the Derek Puddester Award for his exceptional contribution to the wellbeing of his peers. He is currently a consultant psychiatrist with the Quebec Physician Health Program.
During his psychiatry residency, Doctor Bourque was especially affected by issues related to immigrants, Aboriginals and youth suffering from psychosis, such as social exclusion and stigma. He is presently involved in providing mental health services for the Cree and Inuit communities in Northern Quebec. In recent years, he has committed himself to study  the social determinants that contribute to the onset of mental health problems. His graduate studies showed that both first- and second-generation immigrants have an increased risk of developing psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. Indeed, the risk varies considerably based on ethnicity and host societies, suggesting that the social environment plays a determining role.

François Bourque's doctoral project seeks specifically to better understand the connections between society, ethnicity and psychosis. He carries his work in epidemiology and social psychiatry at the renowned Institute of Psychiatry (at the Maudsley Hospital) at King's College London in the United Kingdom. He is planning to take up a career as a clinician-researcher and aspires to shed light on the relationship between the social world and mental illness, in order to improve public health.