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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 2012-2021

  • Applications using OHS data: 58*
  • Applications investigating cancer: 23
  • Applications requesting biosamples: 7
  • Datasets requested: 56
  • ICES data linkage required: 19
  • Ontario Health (Cancer Care Ontario) linkage required: 8
  • Time to project approval (from a fully-complete application): ~60 days

*Includes 17 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: Using population cohorts to support COVID-19 research

Aug 27, 2020

Dr. Philip Awadalla, (National Scientific Director, CanPath; Executive Scientific Director, Ontario Health Study) discusses how data from large population health cohorts like CanPath can be harnessed to support research into COVID-19 such as the socioeconomic and mental health impact, as well as disease severity, infection rates, and mapping of where people are most likely to

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What’s behind a cancer diagnosis in women under 50? Researcher looks to OHS data for clues

Feb 3, 2020

A University of Calgary epidemiologist is using data from Ontario Health Study (OHS) participants to explore how environmental or lifestyle factors could be associated with breast cancer in younger women. Dr. Darren Brenner recently gained approval to study the de-identified data for female participants who were ages 35 to 50 and cancer-free at the time they

Latest Research Findings Resulting from OHS Data

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Normal sex and age-specific parameters in a multi-ethnic population: a cardiovascular magnetic resonance study of the Canadian Alliance for Healthy Hearts and Minds cohort

Apr 4, 2022

Using cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) data from the Canadian Alliance for Healthy Heart and Minds (CAHHM) cohort (of which a subset are OHS and CanPath participants), researchers used this large and diverse group of participants to set reference values for cardiac morphology and function that are specific to age and sex. Read the full paper

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Evaluation of Adiposity and Cognitive Function in Adults

Apr 4, 2022

An analysis of data from two cohort studies, the Canadian Alliance for Healthy Hearts and Minds (CAHHM) which includes a subset of OHS and CanPath participants, and the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiological–Mind (PURE-MIND) study, suggests that adiposity or excess body fat is associated with lower cognitive scores. Read the full paper in the journal Nature