The Ontario Child Health Study (OCHS) is a prospective
study to evaluate the impact of early childhood
experiences and development on later adult health,
quality of life and functioning.
In 1983, Statistics Canada and McMaster University
in Hamilton, Ontario, collected information on
3,294 Ontario children aged to 4 and 16 years living
in 1869 families.
The main purpose of this original survey was to
look at the overall health of children in Ontario,
to see how their health needs were being met and
to identify factors which help or hinder their
A follow-up study with these same children was conducted in 1987. The study
provided important information on the extent to which the health of these children
had changed over four years, and which factors seemed to influence these changes.
A second follow-up was completed in 2001 when
the original group of children were young adults
between 21 and 33 years of age. These assessments
will make it possible to examine the possible influences
of early experiences on important life transitions,
such as joining the workforce, entering into a
relationship with someone or becoming a parent.
The information collected over this 17-year period
will be unique in Canada because it will allow
health to be studied over the long-term. In analyzing
data from the three cycles of collection, researchers
will be able to address a wide variety of questions
on child development, such as:
Which childhood emotional problems and difficulties
disappear as a child matures and grows up and
which tend to persist and need attention?
Does childhood health, early family life or
the neighbourhood in which you grew up exert
an influence, on adult health, employment, lifestyle
What impact have the earlier rounds of this study
had on the lives of children?
Information from the first two cycles of OCHS
have played a vital role in changing social, health
and educational policy in Ontario. The information
was key in:
raising the profile of children and what they
need to grow up healthy;
adding motivation for government initiatives
directed towards child health;
triggering changes in service delivery and
fostering more co-operation and collaboration
between those organizations aimed at helping
children and their families.
principal investigators for this study are Drs.
Mustard and the late
Dan Offord. Dr. Boyle is a core member and Dr.
Offord was first Director of the Offord Centre
for Child Studies which is co-sponsored by McMaster
University and Hamilton Health Sciences. Dr. Mustard
is President & Senior Scientist at the Institute
for Work & Health. The study was funded by
the Canadian Institutes for Health Research.