Ontario Health Study hits milestone with launch of first follow up questionnaire

Landmark study tracks health of more than 230,000 people

The Ontario Health Study (OHS) is taking an important step forward with the launch of its first follow-up questionnaire. The Study, one of Canada's largest population health studies and biobank, is looking for an update on the health of their more than 230,000 participants through this online questionnaire.

The OHS is a long-term study collecting information about their participants' health through online questionnaires and blood samples. The goal of the Study is to build a platform that researchers can use now and decades into the future to better understand and develop new treatments for cancer and chronic disease.

"Follow-up questionnaires are critical because, while the baseline questionnaire is a snapshot of a participant's health at a specific point in time, the follow-ups allow us to see how their health evolves over their lifetime", says Philip Awadalla, OHS Principal Investigator. "They also provide an opportunity to collect data on newly emerging health issues and priorities, such as eCigarette use and mental health."

Participants completed a baseline questionnaire when they registered for the Study, answering questions related to their family history, emotional health, lifestyle and habits related to sleep, alcohol consumption and smoking. In addition to providing an update on this information, the follow up questionnaire includes questions on eCigarette and marijuana use, over-the-counter-medication use and mental health.

The questionnaire is available to eligible participants who registered and completed the baseline questionnaire more than six months ago. Eligible participants can sign in to their secure OHS account and fill out the questionnaire online, which takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.

Discovery—it's in your blood

The OHS continues to collect blood samples from participants between the ages of 30 and 74 who have completed the baseline questionnaire.

"Blood samples compliment the data already collected through the health questionnaires," explains Awadalla. "The samples have the potential to shape our understanding of not only the environmental and lifestyle risk factors related to chronic disease but also what role our genes play."

To date, more than 35,000 participants have provided a blood sample. Through a partnership with LifeLabs, eligible participants can provide a blood sample at one of their more than 200 locations across the province. A requisition form can be accessed through the Study's secure participant portal.

Join the fight against cancer and chronic disease

The Ontario Health Study was launched in 2010 and is funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Cancer Care Ontario, and Public Health Ontario. To date, the Study has more than 230, 000 participants and has collected 35,000 blood samples from people across the province. Those interested in joining the Study can visit www.ontariohealthstudy.ca to register.

The OHS is just one piece of a larger national effort called the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project (CPTP). CPTP consists of the OHS and four other regional studies: The BC Generations Project, Alberta's Tomorrow Project, Quebec's CARTaGENE and the Atlantic PATH. Nationally, CPTP has more than 300,000 participants and more than 145,000 have provided a blood sample.