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Using OHS Data for Research

With 225,000 participants, the Ontario Health Study (OHS) is a rich resource for researchers investigating cancer and other chronic diseases. Researchers can now apply for access to de-identified data and biospecimens collected by the Study.

Approved OHS Research Applications 2012-2023

  • Applications using OHS data: 61*
  • Applications investigating cancer: 22
  • Applications requesting biosamples: 5
  • Datasets requested: 59
  • ICES data linkage required: 19
  • Ontario Health (Cancer Care Ontario) linkage required: 9
  • Time to project approval (from a fully-complete application): ~60 days

*Includes 19 applications to use OHS data via CanPath

Here’s what you need to know about using OHS data for research:

  • Collaboration amongst researchers is strongly encouraged to maximize the access to and use of Study data and biosamples.
  • Access is time-limited and for approved analyses only.
  • Proposals will be accepted for access to:
    – Questionnaire data
    – Physical measures
    – Biorepository materials
  • OHS data can be linked with datasets through data custodians such as ICES and Cancer Care Ontario.
  • Only de-identified data and biosamples will be provided to investigators.
  • Exclusive access to any data and/or biosamples will not be permitted.
  • Researchers will not receive exclusive access to an analysis or question of interest.

Applications will be reviewed by our Data Access Committee who will consider:

  • Scientific merit of the research project
  • Potential impact on research participants
  • Appropriate use of limited resources

Latest Research Underway Using OHS Data

Diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes are the primary causes of death in Canadian adults and treating these and other illnesses costs the Canadian health care system billions of dollars annually. The researchers using Ontario Health Study data are investigating factors that increase the risk of developing various diseases, as well as what can be done to reduce the chance of developing them. These risk factors may include where people live and work, what they eat, how much they exercise, whether they smoke and other factors that have not yet been identified.

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CanPath Webinar: Real-world insights on COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness and infection risk factors from CanPath’s SUPPORT-Canada study

Jun 28, 2023

Photo: Dr. Victoria Kirsh, OHS Scientific Associate. Photo Credit: Greg Sigurdson   At a hybrid event presented live and via webinar on May 30, 2023, OHS Scientific Associate Dr. Victoria Kirsh provided an update on CanPath’s national COVID-19 Antibody Study. Using real-world data from the SUrveying Prospective Population cOhorts for COVID-19 pRevalence and ouTcomes in Canada

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PHD student using OHS data to look for early signs of cancer

Mar 3, 2023

Nicholas Cheng is using data to compare over 400 OHS participants who’ve experienced a cancer diagnosis, with matched cancer-free participants, to look for biomarkers in the blood that could be used to detect breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers several years before a traditional diagnosis. Hear what motivates this PHD student, as he reflects on his

Latest Research Findings Resulting from OHS Data

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Boosting Immunity Insights: Collaborative Canadian Effort Contributes to Nationwide COVID-19 Immunity Study

Aug 17, 2023

TORONTO, Monday, August 14, 2023 – Today, CanPath (the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health) has contributed to the first peer-reviewed publication showcasing pan-Canadian seroprevalence estimates – published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). Seroprevalence refers to how many people across Canada developed antibodies in response to infection or vaccination. Studies like this give us an idea

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Provincial Variation in Colorectal Cancer Screening Adherence in Canada; evidence from the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health (CanPath)

Jul 24, 2023

Data from more than 158,000 Canadians, including almost 80,000 OHS participants, were used to examine why so few Canadians follow recommended screening guidelines for colorectal cancer, even though regular screening is shown to reduce incidents of the disease or death. Based on self-reported data from online questionnaires, it turns out only 47.7 percent of the