Ontario Health Survey aims to answer big questions

A new study being conducted by Ontario Health is asking Ontarians to help in the research effort to identify contributing factors and ultimately find treatments and preventions for diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and Alzheimer's.

The Ontario Health Study (OHS) is an online survey that is open to all Ontario citizens over the age of 18. It takes roughly half an hour to complete and asks participants questions regarding the status of their own health, family medical history and various lifestyle factors.

Issues surrounding privacy have been taken into consideration by the OHS, so you need not fear your medical information becoming public knowledge. The OHS has implemented various strategies to protect the privacy of participants as, according to the website, the study has taken measures to ensure, “information is stored with all identifying information removed, all information is password- protected and encrypted and access is kept to a minimum.”

As of mid-March, of the 9.5 million citizens who are eligible to participate in the study, 175,000 had done so, with 7,700 of those participants hailing from London. The OHS aims to have one million participants by the conclusion of the study, which as of yet has no end date, and has plans to roll out a new recruitment initiative later this spring.

The OHS is a not-for-profit study that receives funding from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Cancer Care Ontario, Public Health Ontario and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. The OHS is just one component of the nationwide Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project, which is gathering similar studies from five regions around the country in a larger research initiative surrounding the diseases focused on in the OHS.

For more information on the OHS, or to sign up and participate in the study, visit ontariohealthstudy.ca.