FAQ

Frequently asked questions

About Healthy Future Sask
Taking part
Privacy and confidentiality

I. About Healthy Future Sask

Healthy Future Sask is a long-term research study that aims to learn more about the causes of cancer and other chronic diseases. The study will follow the health of volunteer Saskatchewan residents for up to 50 years. Our goal is to recruit more than 7000 participants between the ages of 30-74.

This study is part of a larger Canada-wide initiative called the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow's Health (CanPath) (formerly The Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project (CPTP)). CanPath is the largest health research study in Canada and has enrolled over 330,000 Canadians across the country. The purpose of CanPath is to understand better the causes of cancer and other chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and other health conditions. CanPath and the Healthy Future Sask are being created as a resource for researchers to study how different factors - like environment, genes, illness, diet, exercise, and lifestyle- interact to influence risk for cancer and other chronic health conditions. Results from these studies will help us over time to better understand why some people develop cancer and other chronic diseases while others do not, leading to improvements in health for Canadians.

What are the benefits for me and/or for society? For many chronic diseases, the causes are still unknown or not well understood. We know that our genetics, environment, lifestyle, behavior, and social factors all play a part in our health, but we still have more to learn about how and why. Studying how health changes over a long time in a large group of people can help us to understand the causes of chronic diseases. This knowledge could lead to better treatments, new tools to detect diseases earlier (when they may be easier to treat), and strategies to prevent diseases altogether. While we do not anticipate any direct benefits to you for participating, your involvement is an opportunity to pay it forward to benefit future generations by contributing to a better understanding of what influences health and illness for many Saskatchewanians and Canadians.

The study will follow the health of our participants for up to 50 years, so it depends on how old you are when you sign up! We will likely actively follow up with our participants up to 85 years of age. Cancer and chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease can take a long time to develop. By analyzing information provided over a substantial period, researchers may be able to determine why some people develop certain cancers and chronic diseases and others do not. In addition, it can be difficult to remember what you did 1, 5, or 10 years ago. Longitudinal (long-term) data collection from the same people over time helps researchers learn more about how lifestyle, behaviour, environmental exposures, genetics, and social factors contribute to disease risk.  

Healthy Future Sask is funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (CPAC), in conjunction with the University of Toronto, the National Coordinating Centre for CanPath. Further in-kind support will come from the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency.

A small blood sample will be taken. Blood collection performed by a professional can sometimes cause bruising, pain, or fainting. There is also a small risk of infection associated with blood draws. Some of the questions in the questionnaire(s) might be stressful or upsetting to you. Therefore, all questions are voluntary, and if you are not comfortable answering a question, you are free to skip it. There is no need to answer every question to participate. Every precaution will be taken to protect the confidentiality of the biological samples and information you provide.

There are NO costs to you for participating in the study. However, participants will be responsible for incurring any expenses related to travel to a study centre. Any parking fees associated with your visit to a Saskatchewan Cancer Agency facility will be reimbursed.

II. Taking part

You may choose to join this study if you:

  • Live in Saskatchewan
  • Have a valid Saskatchewan Health Card
  • Are between 30-74 years of age

Yes! We are actively recruiting participants until March 31, 2026.

IT IS NOT TOO LATE! We will be accepting new volunteers until our planned close date of (March 31, 2026). Contact us if you have any questions.

You will be asked to complete an in-depth questionnaire, which takes approximately 45 minutes to complete. You also have the option of visiting one of our study centres. Please note that our "optional" in-person study centre appointments will follow current COVID-19 protocols.

The visit will take approximately 45 minutes in total. First, our trained staff will answer any questions you might have and explain the process and procedures moving forward. Next, our team will verify your Personal Health Identification Number (PHIN); found on your Saskatchewan health card.

During the optional visit to our study centre, you may:

  1. Have some simple body measurements taken
      A trained staff member will take some or all of the following measurements:
    • Blood pressure and heart rate
    • Waist and hip circumference
    • Standing and sitting height
    • Weight and body composition
    • You can choose not to have any or all of the measurements if you feel comfortable being measured. If you so choose, we can share the results from these measurements with you. If we find abnormal results from these tests, for example, if your blood pressure is very high, we are obliged to share these results with you. You need to know that this assessment does not amount to a medical checkup by a qualified physician.
  2. Donate a small amount of blood or saliva:
  3. On the day of your appointment, a trained staff member will ask you some questions to determine whether taking a blood sample from you is safe. If it is, and you agree, they will take about 40mL (2- 3 tablespoons) of blood from a vein in your arm. If you do not wish to provide blood, or it is not safe for us to draw blood, you would be invited to give a saliva sample. You can eat and drink normally on the day of your appointment.

If you cannot visit a study centre and are interested in providing a biological sample, a saliva kit can be mailed to you.

Blood and saliva are a source of genetic information (DNA). Changes in DNA can give rise to diseases, but it is not always clear why or how these changes occur. In addition, levels of hormones, vitamins, and other environmental factors can be measured in the blood.

Your biological samples will be frozen so that researchers can use some of them in the future.

Your biological samples and information will be coded (i.e., your name will be replaced by a code) and stored in a highly secure, protected site within the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency facilities for future use in health research studies.

Researchers who use a participant's biological samples and information for research studies in the future might discover something unexpected that could significantly affect a participant's health (known as an 'incidental research finding'). For example, a researcher could uncover something that could be life-threatening or reveal a serious condition that could be treated or prevented. In the event of this occurring, the researcher, the Research Ethics Board, and Healthy Future Sask will work together on a case-by-case basis to decide whether the incidental research finding should be communicated to the participant.

All research studies that use any data will be listed on the website once published, but we will not know whose data is in a particular study.

The visit to our study center is "optional" which means you do not have to agree to that to be part of the Study. If you prefer to participate by completing the questionnaire only, that is perfectly fine. We are grateful for your participation either way!

All of the parts of the study visit are optional. You can choose not to donate blood or saliva samples if you do not feel comfortable doing so and/or are unable to.

Healthy Future Sask will continue for up to 50 years, and one of the goals of the Study is to collect information about your health multiple times throughout your life. Therefore, you will be contacted again in the future to complete additional questionnaires and may be asked to provide different samples and measurements. We estimate this will be roughly once every 3-5 years. The Study will also send you updates about the study's progress - and information about new planned study initiatives -through regular newsletters, roughly once per year.

Every 3-5 years, we contact our participants to obtain updated health and lifestyle information using follow-up questionnaires designed to be snapshots of participants' health over a long time. In addition, by giving us your permission to link to your administrative health data, changes will also be captured via administrative and medical databases such as the Saskatchewan Cancer Registry.

Yes! We want to keep you in Healthy Future Sask even if you move to another province or country. To change your name, address, or phone number, send us an email at info@healthyfuturesask.ca.

You may withdraw from the study at any time, and you do not have to say why. However, if you choose to withdraw, contact us and let us know how you would like to be removed.

Please check the Consent and Withdrawing from the Study in the Privacy and Confidentiality section for detailed information.

III. Privacy and confidentiality

Your privacy is very important to us, and we will make every effort to protect it. When we receive your biological samples and information, we will remove the personal identifying information (your name, address, and health card number) from them and replace it with a unique code. Replacing your personal information with a unique code will allow us to share biological samples and data with researchers while keeping your identity confidential. Researchers will only be given access to coded information that cannot be used to identify you or anyone else in the study.

Your personal identifying information (name, address, and health card number) will only be accessible by authorized personnel from the Healthy Future Sask under controlled conditions. This access will be only to contact you for additional information. Any disclosure of your personal identifying information will comply with the Saskatchewan Health Information Protection Act (HIPA).

We will ask you to provide us with your Personal Health Identification Number (PHIN; found on your Saskatchewan health card) to access your past, present, and future health information and link it with the biological samples and information you provide to the study. Databases that the study may use include the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency Registry and Healthy Future Sask.

All researchers who apply to access the Healthy Future Sask data for their research studies will be required to have their study plans reviewed and approved by a Research Ethics Board. Research Ethics Boards look after research studies that involve humans (including biological samples and information collected from humans) to ensure that the proposed research will be carried out according to the highest ethical and scientific standards.

You will not receive any payment for participating in this study. Should you experience expenses related to the study (i.e., loss of wages/travel), you will not be compensated.

Research using your biological samples and information could, in the future, lead to the commercialization of a medical test or product- some researchers may also benefit financially from any future commercialization.

However, if a commercial product is developed due to research conducted through accessing your biological samples and information, you will not receive any personal financial benefit.

Your family members, friends, employers, and insurance companies will not be able to access any information about you that has been collected from Healthy Future Sask.

  1. I have changed my mind and no longer want to take part? How do I withdraw from the Study?

    No further contact: Healthy Future Sask will no longer contact you or ask you to participate in any follow-up activities, like completing follow-up questionnaires. We will still have your permission to store and use the biological samples and information you have provided and access information in your health records.

    No further access: Healthy Future Sask will no longer contact you or ask you to participate in any follow-up activities. We will still have your permission to store and use the biological samples and information you have provided. Still, we will NOT access any further information about you from your health records in the future, from the time of your withdrawal onwards.

    No further use: Healthy Future Sask will no longer contact you or ask you to participate in any follow-up activities. We will not access any more information about you. The information you provided us will be removed from our databases and destroyed. The information we accessed from your health records will be removed from our databases and destroyed, and your biological samples will be destroyed. However, we CANNOT remove or destroy biological samples and information already granted to approved researchers before you decide to withdraw.

  2. Do I have to agree to everything in the consent form to participate in the Study?

    To participate in this Study, you have to consent to: complete a questionnaire about health and lifestyle; provide your health information number (PHIN) for linkage of health records about your past, current, and future health; and be re-contacted in the future to follow-up research. The visit to our study center is optional, so you don't have to agree to provide biosamples or physical measurements to be part of the Study.

Biological samples and information collected by the Healthy Future Sask may be used for research after you pass away or cannot make decisions on your own unless you tell us differently while you are still alive.

For questions about your rights as a participant in Healthy Future Sask or ethical issues, please contact the Chair of the University of Saskatchewan Research Ethics Board:

University of Saskatchewan
Research Ethics Board (REB)
Phone number: 306-966-2975
(Out-of-town calls: 1-888-966-2975)

The Research Ethics Board is a group of individuals (scientists, physicians, ethicists, lawyers, and community members) that provide an independent review of human research studies. This study has been reviewed and approved on ethical grounds by the University of Saskatchewan Research Ethics Board.

Additional questions

Do you have additional questions you could not find the answer to here?

Please connect with us. We're always happy to speak with you!