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The largest population-based health study ever conducted in North America, the Ontario Health Study is attempting to uncover common risk factors that lead to a variety of diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, Alzheimer’s and depression. Recruiting Ontarians aged 18 and older, the long-term study aims to arm researchers with information that will help them develop strategies for the prevention and treatment of diseases.
Ontario Health Study participants fill out an online questionnaire that can be found at OntarioHealthStudy.ca. The questionnaire examines environmental, lifestyle and familial factors associated with both disease and good health. Signing up for the Study and completing the initial questionnaire takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes. If participants agree to it, they will be asked to fill out a yearly follow-up questionnaire on their health and occasional questionnaires on topics like psychosocial health, diet and physical activity.
"The Ontario Health Study is an exciting opportunity to conduct big-vision science that will have a lasting impact on the health of people in Ontario and around the world," says Professor Lyle Palmer, the Study’s executive scientific director. "Those who choose to participate are contributing to a study with the potential to improve health care and health-care policy for all Canadians."
More than 200 scientists and clinicians at universities, hospitals and research institutes across Ontario are overseeing the not-for-profit Study. Population-based health research has led to many 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 that cigarette smoking is linked to an increased risk of heart disease.