Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS)

The objective of the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) is to gather information that will help improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses and to promote the health and wellness of Canadians. This survey will ask you questions about your health history and health-related lifestyle behaviours. The data collected will be used by researchers to further understand the relationships between disease risk factors and risk conditions such as obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, exposure to infectious diseases, and to environmental contaminants.

In addition, this survey will shed light on illnesses and reveal the extent to which many diseases may be undiagnosed among Canadians, and enable health professionals and researchers to face challenges in public health.

Your information may also be used by Statistics Canada for other statistical and research purposes.


Collection period:

Cycle 7 – From Fall 2022 to Fall 2024

Collection methods:

Personal interview in the respondent's home, followed by a visit to a mobile examination center, where physical measures are taken.

Survey participation:

Voluntary

Confidentiality

Data are collected under the authority of the Statistics Act, Revised Statutes of Canada, 1985, Chapter S-19. Your information will be kept strictly confidential.

Data sharing agreements and record linkage

Data sharing agreements

To avoid duplication of surveys, Statistics Canada has signed agreements with Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada to share the information collected during this survey. They have agreed to keep the information confidential and use it only for statistical purposes.

The information you provide to us can only be shared with your consent. Your name, address, telephone number and health number will not be shared.

Record linkage

At the end of the household interview:

To enrich the data from this survey, while minimizing the response burden, Statistics Canada will combine your survey responses with information from the tax data of all members of your household. Statistics Canada may also add information from other surveys or administrative data sources.

At the end of the mobile examination center visit:

Statistics Canada may combine information about you collected during this survey with information from other surveys or from administrative data sources. The results will be used for statistical purposes only.

Topics covered in the survey

The survey asks questions about

  • body composition
  • blood pressure
  • bone density
  • oral health
  • environmental contaminants in blood and urine.

For a copy of the fall Canadian Health Measures Survey content summary for cycles 1-8, please contact Statistics Canada's Statistical Information Service (toll-free 1-800-263-1136); 1-514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca.

Published data

Statistics Canada publishes the results of its surveys in many formats. To find all the documents related to this survey, follow the links below and type the name of the survey in the search engine located at the left of your screen to filter the results.

Data: You will find tables, profiles of a community or region, thematic maps, public use microdata files, and data visualization tools.

Analysis: You will have direct access to Stats in brief (e.g., releases from The Daily, fact sheets), articles and reports, and journals and periodicals.

Survey-specific questions

What is the Canadian Health Measures Survey?

The Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) is a national survey that collects information from Canadians about their general health and lifestyles.

Through interviews and the collection of some physical measurements, the survey will help us estimate the number of Canadians potentially at risk of developing certain diseases. It will also enable us to determine relationships between disease risk factors and health status, to explore emerging public health issues and to evaluate new measurement technologies.

How is the survey conducted?

The Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) is a two-step survey.

First step: An in-home interview

The questions include but are not limited to:

  • nutrition
  • tobacco usage
  • alcohol consumption
  • medical background
  • current health status
  • lifestyle
  • physical activity
  • environment
  • demographic, social, and economic data related to the household are also collected.

Second step: An appointment at the Mobile Examination Centre (MEC)

The MEC is composed of an arrangement of three semi-trailers.

At the MEC, trained and certified health specialists will:

  • take physical measurements
    • including height and weight
  • administer a series of physical measures tests to assess including
    • blood pressure at rest
    • oral health
    • musculoskeletal health
  • collect blood, urine, and saliva samples (biospecimens) which will be analyzed to evaluate targeted health outcomes such as:
    • cardiovascular health
    • nutritional status
    • exposure to environmental contaminants
    • presence of infectious and chronic diseases.

What are the objectives of this survey?

By collecting direct physical measures and lifestyle characteristics that are related to health and disease, this survey will

  • determine relationships among disease risk factors and health status
  • estimate the numbers of individuals in Canada with selected health conditions, characteristics and exposures to environmental contaminants
  • estimate the distribution of selected diseases and risk factors
  • monitor health trends based on available historical data
  • collect information that cannot be gathered by self-report
  • provide participants with important information about their health
  • explore emerging public health issues and new measurement technologies.

How long will the survey be active?

The survey is ongoing. At the moment, there is no end date.

Why should I participate in this survey?

By participating in this survey, the participant will play an important role in

  • understanding the health of Canadians
  • developing health services that affect all Canadians.

The participant will be entitled to

  • a report of the results of certain physical and laboratory tests
  • a reimbursement for the costs of transportation, child-care and parking related to the participant's visit to the Mobile Examination Centre (MEC). Everyone who takes part in physical measures testing at the MEC will receive $150. If two people are selected from the same household, and they both participate, they will each receive $150.

Does the selected participant have to participate by law?

Participation in the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) is voluntary. However, since every participant is randomly selected to represent other members of their community, participation is encouraged. As a result, the CHMS may obtain the most accurate and reliable results possible.

Do I have to take part in this survey?

Your participation in this survey is voluntary. However, as each person selected represents many other people, your participation will help to ensure that survey results are complete.

Health is an important part of everyone's life. It's important that we have representation from all sorts of people, including those in good health, if the results of the survey are to be representative.

The data we collect from you and other participants will provide policy makers, provincial health departments, researchers and health professionals with a comprehensive source of information to assist them in addressing the health needs of all Canadians, now and in the future.

I've already been in a survey. Why must I do more?

Your contribution has been important and we hope we can count on your support for this survey too. You have been randomly selected to represent others in your community, you cannot be replaced by anyone else.

Does this mean I am going to be chosen every year for a survey?

Not necessarily. Participants are normally selected at random.

Who is involved in conducting this survey?

The survey is being conducted by Statistics Canada, in partnership with Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

How are people selected for this survey?

Your address was randomly selected. Once we find out who lives in a household, the selection takes into account the number of people living in the household and the age of each member.

Approximately 1 in 5,400 Canadians will be invited to participate in this survey. Because you represent many others in your community, your input is vital. Your participation in our survey ensures that we have an accurate and up-to-date picture of the health status of the population.

How long will it take to complete this survey?

It takes, on average, about one hour to complete the household interview and about two hours for the portion at the Mobile Examination Centre (MEC). The length of the appointment at the MEC varies depending on which tests or measures you are eligible for.

Why does the Government need more health information?

The focus on health has been shifting over time to health promotion and disease prevention. As a result, information needs have changed. The Canadian Health Measures Survey has been designed with the help of Canadian doctors, researchers and policy-makers to not only provide a more accurate picture of the health status of Canadians than we have ever had, but also to help us make predictions about the extent of conditions like heart disease or diabetes in the future. With this in mind, we are collecting only the information required to meet these goals.

Why do you want to know my total income?

Total income is one factor needed to determine an individual's overall economic situation. Although many health expenses are covered by health insurance, there is still a relationship between people's health and their economic situation. The survey will help us learn more about that relationship. Please be assured that, like allother information you have provided, your income will be kept strictly confidential.

My child is too young to answer these questions.

In order to design appropriate health programs for youth in Canada, we need information about them with your help. We will ask you to answer questions about your child, and he or she can help you if required. Please rest assured that we will not continue with certain questions if it becomes obvious that your child is uncomfortable.

What is the difference between the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) and the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS)?

While a previous version of the CCHS included a couple of direct measures such as height and weight, the CHMS has many more, including oral health, and bone density measurements. The CHMS also tests participants' blood and urine samples, something the CCHS does not do. Although both surveys have a household interview component, they are otherwise quite different in design.

They also have different goals. The CHMS is designed to provide baseline data on health measures at the national level, while the CCHS is focused on providing data on Canadians' health at provincial and regional levels.

What is the difference between gender and sex?

Gender refers to the gender that a person internally feels ('gender identity' along the gender spectrum) and/or the gender a person publicly expresses ('gender expression') in their daily life, including at work, while shopping or accessing other services, in their housing environment or in the broader community. A person's current gender may differ from the sex a person was assigned at birth (male or female) and may differ from what is indicated on their current legal documents. A person's gender may change over time.

Why can my 15-year-old child sign his/her own consent form?

The age of 15 was determined in consultation with several expert groups; the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) Expert Advisory Committee, the CHMS Physician Advisory Committee, the federal and provincial privacy commissioners and others. In addition, the age of consent for health care in Canada is generally 14.

If I consent to participate, do I have to do all the parts of the survey?

No. You may choose to withdraw from any part of the survey at any time. If for any reason we find that you should not take part in a certain test or are ineligible, we will exclude you from that test. Parents or guardians can choose to withdraw their 1 to 14 year-old child from any part of the survey or subsequent studies until the child reaches the age of 15.

At the age of 15, the child can withdraw himself/herself. We will be re-contacting participants who were under the age of 15 when they took part in the survey shortly after they turn 15 to inform them that they can, at that point decide, whether or not to withdraw the use of their blood, urine and saliva samples that have been stored for future health studies.

What does the clinical portion consist of?

The clinical portion of the Canadian Health Measures Survey consists of:

  • physical measurements, such as your height, weight and waist circumference
  • a measurement of your resting blood pressure
  • an assessment of your oral health
  • a test of your bone mineral density and body composition
  • an oral health exam.

All measures are taken by health professionals in our specially designed mobile examination centre. We also collect blood, urine, and saliva samples to measure, among others, cardiovascular health, nutritional status, infectious disease markers and environmental exposure to contaminants, such as lead.

Are the procedures at the Mobile Examination Centre safe?

For this unique survey, Statistics Canada is taking every precaution to ensure that the collection of health data and all biospecimens such as blood, urine, and saliva are safe for all participants. The staff are trained and certified health professionals who use universal precautions and standard clinical procedures to conduct the physical tests and measurements and to take blood and urine samples.

Nevertheless, we will not ask you to perform any test or procedure that is inappropriate for you because of a prior or existing health problem or condition. At the beginning of your appointment, we will ask you a series of questions about chronic conditions you may have, your medication use and other health factors. Through careful screening of your answers, we will determine whether a test is suitable for you.

What is the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) biobank?

The CHMS collects blood, urine and saliva samples from consenting participants. Some of these samples are stored in freezers in a secure location for future health studies. To obtain approval for the use of these samples, research projects undergo a thorough scientific, ethical and security review process. The primary purpose of the CHMS biobank is to allow for health research opportunities on a nationally-representative scale.

Key advantages to biobanking include:

  • reduced costs of health research
  • accelerated research process due to samples being readily available for analysis
  • facilitated discovery of new cures and treatments related to various health conditions.

Will I get my test results?

Yes. Test results that are immediately available will be provided to you at the Mobile Examination Centre (MEC). If these results reveal possible health problems, we will advise you to consult a doctor or a regulated health professional for further investigation.

With your consent, we will send you a report of the final test results about six to seven months after your visit to the MEC. We will send this report only to the person examined or to the parent/guardian of participating children aged 1 to 14 years. Whether or not a result is included in the final report depends on your age group and sex, whether you were fasting prior to your appointment, whether the test was conducted on a subsample of survey participants, and whether there are national guidelines or reference ranges for the test.

This final report will include the following information:

  • laboratory analysis of your saliva, blood and urine samples (cycle 7)
  • results of the tap water analysis will only be sent to participants who take part in the MEC part of the survey (cycle 7)
  • information on your level of physical activity (activity monitor data) (cycle 7)
  • body composition and bone density results (cycle 7).

Why will it take so long for me to get my results?

We are dependent of the different laboratories across Canada (for blood, urine, bone density) to obtain all the results. Once received at our head office, they are to be verified by a subject-matter specialist. These measurements results will not represent a medical diagnosis. If you are worried about your health, we suggest that you set-up an appointment with your doctor or other health care professional. This means we will be able to compile a report with your final test results in about six or seven months.

I have/my child has moved. How do I change my/their address?

If you/your child move to a new address, please fill out the change of address card provided during the clinic visit or e-mail statcan.chms-biobank-ecms-biobanque.statcan@statcan.gc.ca with the following information:

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Complete new home address
  • Home address at the time of the mobile examination center visit
  • Approximate date of the mobile examination center visit

To whom will Statistics Canada disclose lab results?

Statistics Canada will not disclose individual lab results to anyone without participants' consent. To protect confidentiality, all specimens going to and coming from any of the reference laboratories used by the Canadian Health Measures Survey are labeled with generic identification numbers that only authorized Statistics Canada personnel working in head office can match to a participant's identity.

Who uses the information collected?

There are many users of the data collected, including

  • Health Canada
  • Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI)
  • provincial ministries of health
  • health planners across the country
  • physicians
  • health researchers
  • journalists, decision makers and policy makers

How will the data be used? Who will use it?

Objective statistical information is vital to researchers, analysts and decision-makers across Canada. Results of the Canadian Health Measures Survey could be used by:

  • Parliament and other policy makers, to track major initiatives, set priorities for prevention and research programs, and evaluate policy and program outcomes
  • epidemiologists, biomedical and health service researchers, to understand trends in diseases and the relationship of observed risk factors to diseases
  • individual physicians, to evaluate health and risk factors of their patients (using, for example, the reference standards and norms for height and weight and blood pressure that will be developed)
  • public health professionals, to track preventable illnesses and evaluate the impact of prevention and intervention programs
  • advocacy groups, to raise awareness and assist in their surveillance of health issues such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, child nutrition, obesity and health disparities.

Can doctors use the information produced by the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS)?

In time, information collected from the CHMS can assist local practitioners. With national baseline data, physicians and other health professionals can compare their patients' information to the national average and determine any potential health concerns.

How can people get a copy of the survey results?

The results from previous cycles of the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) have been published in a variety of scientific and medical publications and on Statistics Canada's website. Links to Statistics Canada and external publications that have used CHMS data can be found here: Definitions, data sources and methods - Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS). The results are also available at Statistics Canada's regional data centres (RDCs), approximately 700 public libraries across Canada and the media.

How will you safeguard the confidentiality of my information?

As with all Statistics Canada surveys, any information provided will remain confidential pursuant to the Statistics Act. Statistics Canada takes the privacy of Canadians very seriously. Published data can never identify you or your household.

To find out more about the measures in place to safeguard the confidentiality of your information, visit Statistics Canada's Trust Centre.

Are answers kept confidential for kids?

To encourage truthful answers during the household interview, youths 12 years of age or older are interviewed privately away from other members of the household.

Adolescents 15 to 17 years of age can request that results are sent directly to him/her. Results for participants under 15 years of age will be sent to the parent or guardian.

General enquiries

For more information related to you/your child's participation in the Canadian Health Measures Survey, please contact our respondent relations team:

Resources for respondents

For more information about this survey