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More workers urged to participate in Ontario Health Study

By COS staff

Researchers embarking on a province-wide Ontario Health Study are urging more Ontarians to participate, a statement from the Workplace Safety and Prevention Services said.

Several research studies are already underway using health information provided by Ontarians who have already volunteered for the Ontario Health Study. As of March 26, 185,000 Ontarians have signed up — but more are needed for this comprehensive health study.

Primarily through questionnaires, the Ontario Health Study will follow participants’ health over time, creating an accurate picture of how lifestyle, environment and genes interact to determine people's health. The information could uncover common risk factors for many chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes, asthma, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Workers can contribute to the study — and raise their own understanding of their personal health — by completing a confidential 30-minute survey. According to study researchers, the results will improve Ontarians’ personal lifestyle choices, promote healthy workplace behaviour, influence future clinical care, and shape government health policy, the WSPS said.

Working life is an essential component of this ongoing research. “Forward-thinking companies stand at the forefront of developing and implementing positive workplace culture,” notes Lyle Palmer, the study's executive scientific director. “Studies like this have the potential to uncover previously unknown environmental risk factors that could affect employees.”

In addition to conducting research, study organizers will be opening an assessment centre in May, which will add more value to the health information being collected. They are also finalizing a mental health questionnaire that participants will be invited to fill out.

Participation to the Ontario Health Study begins with the 30-minute online survey, open to Canadians aged 18 and older who have their own email address.

Once people have enrolled in the Ontario Health Study, they will be invited to update their health information once a year. Participants will also have the choice of participating in optional follow-up questionnaires on such topics as mental health, diet and physical activity. Ongoing participation is optional. Participants can opt out at any time.

More information about the Ontario Health Study is available on its website.

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