About the Study

What is the Ontario Health Study (OHS)?

The Ontario Health Study is an ongoing research study investigating risk factors that cause diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and Alzheimer’s. If you live in Ontario and are 18 or older, you can take part in the OHS by filling out health-related questionnaires online. Researchers will use this health information to study how our lifestyle, environment and family history affect our health over time and to develop strategies for the prevention, early detection and treatment of diseases. The Ontario Health Study also collects physical measures and samples at its Assessment Centre (AC). While you do not have to visit the Assessment Centre to participate in the Ontario Health Study, the measurements and samples that are collected will help researchers to better understand the factors that influence our health and quality of life.

What's involved if I join?

There’s never been an easier way to make a difference in the health of your family, friends and future generations. Begin by filling out the Ontario Health Study’s online questionnaire – it takes approximately 40 minutes to complete. Annual optional follow-up includes a yearly questionnaire on another area of health (such as mental health or diet and physical activity) and an annual questionnaire updating your health (totaling approximately 60 minutes a year to complete). The information you share will help researchers here and around the world to develop better strategies for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. Participants who have completed the baseline questionnaire may be invited to visit the OHS Assessment Centre. If you choose to visit the AC, you will spend approximately one hour with Assessment Centre staff, who will collect physical measurements and blood and urine samples. For information on how your confidentiality is protected, visit Your Privacy.

Is this a government study?

No. Currently, more than 320 senior scientists and clinicians at universities, hospitals and research institutes across Ontario are collaborating in the development of the Study and the design of its online health questionnaires. Their areas of expertise include: heart disease and stroke, obesity and diabetes, respiratory health, aging, hearing, nutrition, mental health, vision, neurology, dentistry and the effect of the environment on health.

Who is funding the Ontario Health Study?

The not-for-profit Study is funded by four organizations: the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Cancer Care Ontario, Public Health Ontario and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. The Ontario Health Study is part of the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project, which is made up of five regional health studies across Canada.

Will the information I provide really make a difference?

Similar studies have led to important discoveries in the past. For instance, the Framingham Heart Study in the United States, which began in 1948 and continues today, led to the discovery in 1960 that cigarette smoking increases the risk of heart disease. In fact, much of what we understand today about the causes of common diseases comes from health studies of the general population. What sets the Ontario Health Study apart from other studies is its potential to reach a large and diverse population residing in Ontario. With it being possible to follow the health of so many diverse people, the Study may detect new risk factors or combinations of risk factors and may be able to investigate many less common diseases. The OHS will also take advantage of the opportunity to link to many valuable sources of information that are unique to Ontario, such as the Ontario Cancer Registry. Some of the best-linked health data in the world – collected for routine administrative purposes – exists in Ontario.

Getting started:

  • Read the information on this website (including Your Privacy, FAQs) and complete the Study’s consent form
  • Complete the online questionnaire

Optional follow-up:

  • Optional follow-up will include questionnaires updating your health, additional studies collecting more detailed information in various areas of health and the opportunity to visit an OHS Assessment Centre.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:
What is the Ontario Health Study?
A:
The Ontario Health Study (OHS) is an ongoing research study investigating risk factors that cause diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and Alzheimer’s. If you live in Ontario and are 18 or older, you can take part in the OHS by filling out a health-related questionnaire online (if you’re ready to sign up and start now, click here). Researchers will use this health information to study how our lifestyle, environment and family history affect our health over time and to develop strategies for the prevention, early detection and treatment of diseases. After you complete the questionnaire, you may be invited to take part in a number of programs including the Blood Collection Program, our Toronto Assessment Centre and occasional follow-up questionnaires on a range of health-related topics.

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