Frequently asked questions

What is the National Population Health Survey (NPHS)?

The National Population Health Survey (NPHS) is a longitudinal survey that interviews the same group of Canadians every two years. It is the first national health survey of its kind conducted in Canada.

What is a longitudinal survey?

Most surveys gather information about the population at one specific point in time; a longitudinal survey gathers information about the same group of people over an extended period. A longitudinal health survey can measure changes in health status over time, and can provide information on possible causes and effects of those changes.

What are the advantages of longitudinal health data?

Longitudinal data are critical for health research and policy development. Many of the most significant medical discoveries of the 20th century began with the analysis of longitudinal data. Two of the most important discoveries were the relationship between smoking and cancer and the long-term health benefits of aspirin to reduce heart disease and Alzheimer's.

Why is your participation important?

While taking part in the National Population Health Survey (NPHS) is voluntary, your co-operation helps ensure that we collect reliable, accurate survey information.

Because we must interview the same people every second year, we cannot substitute you with someone else. And as part of a survey sample, you represent thousands of other Canadians. Each participant is irreplaceable.

Your survey answers help us more precisely assess the influence of factors such as physical activity, lifestyle, and financial status on Canadians' health over time. Understanding these health-related factors helps decision makers and health practitioners make better policy choices for Canadians. A longitudinal health survey such as NPHS also highlights new directions for medical and scientific research that could not have been found otherwise.

Why is this survey so important?

As our population ages, understanding Canadians' health, and how it is affected by their behaviour, lifestyle and other choices affect their health becomes crucial. The results from this survey help determine how to best allocate health resources to support our aging population.

Longitudinal data are especially important. Data that span a significant portion of a person's life provide a window to the future that can reveal the kinds of issues that others may face as they age. This can help policy analysts and researchers foresee needs and ensure that good policies and programs are in place. Longitudinal data also point the way for health research by uncovering relationships between people's lifestyle choices and health outcomes many years later.

Where and when can I get the NPHS results?

The results for Cycle 8, which was conducted in 2008-2009, are available in The Daily, Statistics Canada's official release bulletin, and the results of Cycle 9 will be available in the spring of 2012.

Consult Facts and figures to access published survey results and analyses. The publication Healthy Today, Healthy Tomorrow? Findings from the National Population Health Survey presents a series of research articles based on NPHS results.

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