Ontarians have chance to inform the future of health-care

We purchase hybrid cars, buy environmentally friendly products, and recycle, all in the name of preserving the world for future generations. So why not take forty minutes out of your day to register for the Ontario Health Study? This study could lead to an important discovery that could save your great grand-daughter from breast cancer or your great- great grandson from suffering with asthma. All it requires is a 30 minute commitment today and one hour per year for the rest of your life for follow-up questionnaires.

Researchers are currently looking to the 9.5 million eligible Ontarians to sign up for the study in hopes that it will help us to understand the cause of common diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, etc., and to develop better preventive strategies to combat them. The goal of the study is to learn how the environment, lifestyle and genetics play a role in the onset of these diseases and how they can be prevented.

The Ontario Health Study is a landmark national and international scientific project, and the largest community-based health study ever undertaken in North America. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? This study gives everyday people an opportunity to help the future of health-care. As Canadians we are notorious complainers (albeit nice ones). One of our beloved issues to complain about – our health-care system. Well, here’s an opportunity to do something about it. With this study, there is an opportunity to help inform the future of health-care. While we may not see the benefits the data will have, our children and grandchildren might.

To date, just under 33,000 Ontarians have signed up. Anyone 18 and over is eligible, regardless of their health or history. The study will continue indefinitely, growing with the population. Researchers are hoping to have two million people sign up and follow them through-out their life.

The study’s website highlights that it was a study of this kind that led to important discoveries: That smoking causes cancer and that diabetes can increase a person’s risk of heart disease. As a result of previous studies, we have better health-care. And this study is even bigger, hoping to uncover many more discoveries that will improve the health of Canadians.

Ontarians aren’t the only ones being asked to help future generations. The Ontario Health Study is part of the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project, which involves five regional teams – in Alberta, Atlantic Canada, British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec – its aim is to recruit and track a total of 300,000 healthy Canadians over decades. For more information about that project visit: www.partnershipfortomorrow.ca

One thing both of these studies is completely dependent on is participants. Without them, it will be all for naught. We are living in a time where people are hesitant to give out personal information and are very protective of their privacy. You, as health-care professionals will play an important role in the success of this study. Ontarians trust you and will look to you for input on their participation in the study.

“As trusted professionals on the frontlines of patient care, health-care workers play a vital role in the success of the Ontario Health Study,” says Bill Bobek, Senior Communications Manager for the Study. “By communicating the importance of the Study to their patients and clients, these influential individuals will help elevate the number of participants, thereby enhancing the Study’s value. In turn, physicians and health researchers will benefit from the advancement of knowledge in various disciplines.” Health-care facilities, private businesses, anyone really – can contact the study for information or posters to display in their workplace. For more information visit ontariohealthstudy.ca

I just signed up and am happy to be a participant in the study. It took me 21 minutes. I am also going to send out an email to my colleagues, with a link to the study. I will also encourage my friends and family to sign up. I think it’s a worthwhile investment of my time – especially considering that I do spend that much time waiting in line for coffee (over the course of a week anyway).  What have you got to lose? The return on your investment could change the world.