How do factors such as diet, physical activity and genetics impact human health and disease? The Ontario Health Study (OHS) has been working to answer this and other questions since it began four years ago. The OHS is a not-for-profit, population-based study that collects health and lifestyle information from volunteers through an online survey, as well as physical measures such as blood pressure and grip strength. This information is being used to help researchers better understand chronic diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes and develop improved strategies for prevention and treatment.
To date, more than 225,000 participants have signed up for the OHS questionnaire and over 20,000 have provided blood samples. Recently, the Study opened its first Local Study Centres to further engage participants across the province. These temporary centres allow participants to participate in the Study conveniently within their own communities.
The Study will be visiting towns and cities across Ontario. So far it has visited Mississauga, Markham, and most recently Peterborough. Completing the OHS online questionnaire is an easy way to help improve the health of future generations in Ontario and worldwide. By attending a Local Study Centre, participants aged 35-69 are able to enhance the impact of their questionnaire data for researchers and learn more about their own health in the process.
“We understand that between work, family and other commitments people don’t have as much time as they used to. That’s why we wanted to make providing a blood sample and physical measures as easy and as enjoyable as possible,” says Nina Chan, OHS Senior Manager, Clinical Operations and Quality Assurance. “It has been great to be able to bring this opportunity to more people.”
The Study encourages individuals interested in visiting a Local Study Centre in their area to contact the Study by calling 1-866-606-0686 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ontario Health Study recently had additional exciting news – the appointment of Dr. Mark Purdue as OHS’s new Principal Investigator and Executive Scientific Director.
Dr. Purdue most recently worked as an Investigator in the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. He also gained valuable experience working for Cancer Care Ontario and Health Information Partnership of Eastern Ontario. Dr. Purdue attended the University of Toronto where he earned a PhD from the Department of Public Health Sciences.
With new leadership in place and the Local Study Centre program up and running, the Study is looking forward to engaging more Ontarians across the province. “Looking back over the last four years it is impressive how far we have come. It is inspiring to see so many Ontarians volunteering to help us answer important questions about our health,” says Dr. Karen Menard, OHS Chief Planning and Administrative Officer. “I encourage anyone over the age of 18 to take a small amount of time out of their day and contribute. Together we will have a real impact.”
The Ontario Health Study is one of the largest long-term health studies in Canada. Since 2010 almost 225,000 Ontarians have taken a short online survey to help researchers better understand the causes of chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and to develop new ways to prevent and treat them. The 158,000 OHS participants that were 35 to 69 years of age at the time of enrollment are also part of the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project, a harmonized, five-province, pan-Canadian cohort health study with 300,000 participants.
If you live in Ontario and you’re 18 years or older, you’re eligible to participate. A small investment of your time today will help to improve public health for generations to come.
For more information or to participate please visit www.ontariohealthstudy.ca