June 5, 2017

Ontarians come together to help Ontario Health Study collect 41,000 blood samples

Ontario Health Study logo

The samples will be combined with data from OHS’s online questionnaire to help researchers in the fight against chronic disease.

With the help of dedicated Ontarians across the province, The Ontario Health Study (OHS) has finished its blood collection phase, bringing the total number of samples donated by participants to over 41,000. This happened just in time to help the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project, of which the OHS is part, reach the 150,000-sample mark for Canada’s 150th birthday.

Now the OHS is focusing on updating and augmenting its data from 230,000 Ontario participants who have completed the OHS online questionnaire to date (participants who provide a blood sample also had to complete the questionnaire). The OHS will be sending out follow-up questionnaires that will gather additional important details on the health and lifestyle of participants. The combination of data gathered from the blood sample collection program and the questionnaires will be used to generate information to help researchers fight chronic diseases such as cancer.

“In early February we let Study participants know that we were nearing the end of our blood collection program and the response from participants looking to donate before it ended was outstanding,” says Ms. Kelly McDonald, Program Manager of the OHS. “I think the fact that people were motivated by this deadline shows how interested the public is in helping health research and being part of something positive.”

The follow up questionnaires will help to make the information collected so far even more relevant for researchers by adding new fields and tracking developments in participant’s health and behaviour. “There are areas where we could use more information,” says McDonald. “We can now address ‘blind spots’ such as the use of over-the-counter medications, marijuana and e-cigarettes.”

The OHS database would be a powerful resource on its own, but the Study has taken steps to make it even more useful for scientists. They are working on cleaning up the data to eliminate inconsistencies and are linking OHS data with those at the Institute for Clinical and Evaluative Sciences and Cancer Care Ontario, which hold OHIP claims records and the Ontario Cancer Registry.

The OHS is currently working to increase awareness amongst researchers about the availability of its samples and data, and some researchers are already taking advantage of its potential. A group of Toronto-based researchers have used OHS data in a study looking at the mental health status of ethnocultural minorities in Ontario and their mental health care. In addition, another study called the Canadian Alliance for Healthy Hearts and Minds included OHS participants as a partner cohort.

OHS data will also be supporting research in several of OICR’s new Translational Research Initiatives, which were announced on May 25, 2017.

More information about the Study and further updates can be found at https://ontariohealthstudy.ca/

January 17, 2017

First follow-up questionnaire to strengthen Ontario Health Study data

Illustration of four arms holding up surveys

For scientists working to understand diseases and develop new treatments, access to data is key. Ontario Health Study (OHS) participants have already provided the Study with a wealth of information about their health and lifestyle through the OHS online survey, and in some cases, blood samples and physical measures. Researchers can use this information to uncover the causes of various chronic diseases and to inform further research. Now, OHS participants are being given an opportunity to further help researchers by completing a follow-up questionnaire.

Continue reading – First follow-up questionnaire to strengthen Ontario Health Study data

June 16, 2016

Study examines mental health in common ethnic minorities in Ontario

Large Group of People

Ethnocultural minorities are more likely to report suffering from mental health issues but are less likely to access treatment, a study out of York University using Ontario Health Study (OHS) survey data has found.

Continue reading – Study examines mental health in common ethnic minorities in Ontario

May 13, 2016

OICR researcher receives $2 million in federal funding to study metabolic conditions that can lead to cancer

The OHS Team

Dr. Philip Awadalla and the Ontario Health Study team.

Chronic health conditions place a heavy burden on patients and their families, and cost the healthcare system and the Canadian economy staggering amounts. Chronic diseases were behind 67 per cent of total direct costs in health care and 60 per cent of total indirect costs as a result of early death, loss of productivity and foregone income, according to a 2006 study by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Globally, non-communicable disease (NCD) was made a priority by the World Health Organization, leading to the formation of the NCD Alliance and the Sharjah Declaration, which aims to reduce the global burden of NCDs.

Continue reading – OICR researcher receives $2 million in federal funding to study metabolic conditions that can lead to cancer

May 2, 2016

$2 million in new funding from Canadian Institutes of Health Research will help Ontario team study metabolic syndromes

Dr. Philip Awadalla

Dr. Philip Awadalla

Toronto (May 2, 2016) – Dr. Philip Awadalla, Senior Investigator at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and Principal Investigator for the Ontario Health Study has been awarded $2 million by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).  The award will fund the study of the role of both genes and the environment on the development of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of medical conditions that are common in aging adults, including obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and insulin resistance.

These conditions are considered to be both risk factors and causal factors in the development of cancer and chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke and diabetes. A better understanding of how to prevent and treat the conditions of metabolic syndrome could also help in the design of new strategies to prevent these diseases before they develop.

Continue reading – $2 million in new funding from Canadian Institutes of Health Research will help Ontario team study metabolic syndromes

November 15, 2015

New study on effect of trees rooted in Ontario Health Study data

Trees provide us with shade and help to clean the air, but new research shows they may also be helping us out in other ways. Using data from the Ontario Health Study (OHS) and City of Toronto forestry records, researchers at the University of Chicago have shown the positive effect that living near trees can have on our health.

Trees! Like the article

The study is the first to use data from the OHS, one of the largest health studies of its kind in Canada, and shows the power of this data for researchers studying how to help prevent chronic disease in our communities.

Continue reading – New study on effect of trees rooted in Ontario Health Study data