Over 175,000 registered participants complete online questionnaire at ontariohealthstudy.ca
TORONTO, March 16, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - More than 175,000 Ontarians have joined the Ontario Health Study (OHS), the ambitious research effort designed to help scientists understand the complex factors behind heart disease, cancer, diabetes, asthma, Alzheimer's and other common diseases. The milestone makes the OHS the largest single health study in Canadian history, and one of the most important health research efforts in the world.
"The Ontario Health Study is being watched around the globe because of the novelty of its online approach, the significance of its large scale and the diversity of participants," said Professor Lyle Palmer, Executive Scientific Director of the Ontario Health Study. "We will be following individuals over their entire lifespan, giving us the ability to look at the development and progression of common conditions in the general population."
Every Ontario adult aged 18 and over can enroll in the OHS and complete an online health questionnaire at ontariohealthstudy.ca. The questionnaire, which takes 30 to 40 minutes to complete, asks participants to provide information about health-related subjects such as personal and family medical history, where they live, and their lifestyle and diet. Approximately 9.5 million Ontarians are eligible to volunteer for the Study.
"The opportunity of the Study is enormous and the larger the pool of participants, the richer our research insights and outcomes will be," said Palmer. "We have exceeded our expectations, but the goal is to recruit one million Ontarians into the Study."
All information provided to the OHS by participants is protected by embedded privacy tools built into the core of the Study's technology, delivering the maximum degree of privacy and ensuring that personal data is "de-identified" and automatically protected. When participants sign up for the Study and complete the online questionnaire, all identifying information, such as their name and address, is separated from the health information provided.
"It is important that we continue to recruit participants from all regions of the province as lifestyle, diet, culture, ethnicity and environmental factors vary greatly from region to region," said Palmer. "This range and diversity is a defining difference in our work and one of the key factors that drew me to the opportunity."
Palmer came to Canada in 2010 to lead the Ontario Health Study, leaving his post as the founding Winthrop Chair in Genetic Epidemiology and the founding Director of the Centre for Genetic Epidemiology & Biostatistics at the University of Western Australia, where he was also a Professor in the Schools of Medicine & Pharmacology and Population Health.
Prior to that he was Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Director of Statistical Genomics at the Channing Laboratory, Boston.
"Simply put, the Ontario Health Study is big science capable of advancing scientific knowledge related to how people develop certain diseases, as well as what can be done to prevent them," said Palmer.
More than 320 senior scientists and clinicians at universities, hospitals and research institutes across the province oversee the Study, collaborating on its development and the design of the online health questionnaire. They will also work in partnership on future follow-up questionnaires as the Study follows participants' health over the coming decades.
Surpassing 175,000 participants puts the Ontario Health Study on an upward trajectory for its next phase, set to roll out later this spring.
About 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.
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