Data Collection Overview

//Data Collection Overview
Data Collection Overview 2017-10-18T11:03:07+00:00

Data Collection Overview

Alberta’s Tomorrow Project (ATP) has 55,000 participants who have completed a general questionnaire on health, lifestyle and demographics since the project was first launched.  More than 99% of our participants have provided their provincial Personal Health Care number and consented to linkage with administrative health databases to allow further research into health outcomes and usage of health services in the years ahead.

Researchers interested in viewing Alberta Tomorrow Project data tables should visit the Summary Data Tables page. Full surveys can be found here.

Between 2001-2008, approximately 31,000 participants returned health and lifestyle information via detailed baseline questionnaires.  In 2008, half of those participants agreed to join ATP in a new, nation-wide consortium of five regional health studies called the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project (CPTP).  New participants were also recruited from the general population.

As part of the expanded collection campaign in 2008, established and first-time participants provided not only extensive information on their health and lifestyle history, but also blood samples (non-fasting), urine (spot samples), and in some cases saliva for DNA extraction.  Physical measurements taken at this time included blood pressure, resting heart rate, standing and sitting heights, body weight, percent body fat (via bioelectric impedance), waist and hip circumferences, and grip strength.  Physical measurements and biological samples have been collected from 30,000 ATP participants since 2008.

Today, three-quarters of our participants are enrolled in both the provincial and national research platforms.

Questionnaire themes and biospecimens:

Health and lifestyle factors addressed by 55,000 participants include the following:

  • Personal and family health history
  • Educational background
  • Employment status and work history
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Waist/hip circumference
  • Diet and nutrition
  • Physical activity
  • Sleep patterns
  • Social support and stress
  • Reproductive health
  • Ethnic background
  • Cancer screening history
  • Medication use
  • Sun exposure
  • Tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke

Physical measurements conducted on 30,000 participants in more than 140 mobile study centres include many or all of the following:

  • Standing/sitting height
  • Weight
  • Waist/hip circumference
  • Blood pressure
  • Resting heart rate
  • Body composition
  • Grip strength

Biospecimens collected from 30,000 participants include:

  • Blood samples
  • Urine samples
  • Whole blood spots
  • DNA extracted from almost 10,000 saliva samples

Surveys Conducted and Cohort Growth:


One series of baseline questionnaires was used for participants enrolled between 2001-2009, while a new set of surveys was devised for recruits joining the nation-wide Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project (CPTP) from 2008-2015.

Copies of the questionnaires can be found on our Previous Surveys page, and a description of the types of variables available on each survey can be found on our Data Dictionaries page.

ATP Baseline Questionnaires (2001-2008)

Health and Lifestyle Questionnaire (HLQ): 

This survey contained questions about personal and family health history, cancer screening tests, reproductive health, smoking, sun exposure, spirituality, social support and stress, body measurements and demographic characteristics.

Canadian Diet History Questionnaire-I (CDHQ-I): 

This food frequency questionnaire was intended to assess food and nutrient intakes in the year prior to questionnaire completion.

Past Year Total Physical Activity Questionnaire (PYTPAQ): 

The PYTPAQ was designed to obtain information about the type and amount of physical activity undertaken by participants in the past twelve months. It asked participants to consider the type of activity they completed in four areas: occupation, household, leisure time and transportation.

The PYTPAQ was developed specifically for use in Alberta’s Tomorrow Project and was tested for reliability and validity (Friedenreich et al. Amer J Epidemiol, 2006).  It has since been used extensively worldwide.  On behalf of external researchers who wish to use the self-administered PYTPAQ questionnaire, we have provided additional information that can be found on our Previous Surveys page.

ATP Follow Up Questionnaires

Survey 2004 (S04)

Survey 2004 was distributed to participants who joined ATP between 2000 and 2003. It contained questions on personal health history, cancer screening tests, sun exposure, smoking, body measurements, lifetime weight pattern, alcohol, sleep and shift work, health risk perception, quality of life, demographic characteristics and for women, hormone replacement therapy use.

Survey 2008 (S08): 

Survey 2008 was distributed in 2008 to research participants who joined ATP between 2001 and 2007. This questionnaire included information on lifetime residential history, personal and family health history, cancer screening tests, smoking, quality of life, fruit and vegetable intake, physical activity, sleep and shift work, built environment, work history, body measurements and demographic information.

CPTP Questionnaires (2008 – 2015)

Research participants involved in the CPTP protocol completed either an UHLQ and PANS or a Core questionnaire. Each cohort in CPTP used the same questions to ensure uniformity of the information gathered.

Update Health and Lifestyle Questionnaire (UHLQ) or Health and Lifestyle Questionnaire II (HLQ-II): 

This questionnaire was based on ATP’s original Health and Lifestyle Questionnaire (HLQ) completed by all participants who joined ATP between 2001 and 2008. Questions covered topics such as personal and family health history, health check-ups, reproductive health, past-year medication use, alcohol, smoking, sun exposure, sleep, occupation and demographic characteristics.

Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (PANS):   

This survey asked about physical activity and dietary habits. The physical activity section was the long form of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, while the nutrition sections asked about consumption of servings of several food groups similar to those used in Canada’s Food Guide.

Core Questionnaire (Core):   

This questionnaire was a refined version of the UHLQ combined with the PANS. Small changes were made based on feedback from research participants to make the questionnaire easier to complete. It included sections on demographic characteristics, cancer screening tests, reproductive health, personal medical history, current medication use, family health history, sleep, sun exposure, food consumed, alcohol, smoking, physical activity, work and body measurements.

Physical Measurements (30,000 participants):

Research participants who attended a study centre had several measurements taken during their visit. These included blood pressure, resting heart rate, sitting height, standing height, waist and hip circumferences, grip strength, weight and bioimpedance. Measurements were recorded in one of two formats: electronically (Onyx, OBiBA open source software) or in a combination of the Study Centre Questionnaire (SCQ) and Physical Measures Recording Booklet (PMRB).

Summary of Biospecimens Collected

Standard operating procedures for collection, processing and storage protocols are available upon request by emailing

Blood Samples

Pilot Collection: 2001 (768 research participants)

A pilot program to evaluate the feasibility of blood collection among ATP research participants was done in 2001. Blood was collected from 768 research participants beginning on November 27, 2001 and ending on December 13, 2002.

Ancillary Study Collection: 2005 (802 participants)

Additional blood samples were collected in 2005 as part of a case-controlled breast cancer study. A portion of these samples remain available for analyses. Blood was collected from 802 research participants beginning on March 21, 2005 and ending on August 24, 2006.

CPTP Collection: 2008 – 2015 (29,183 participants)

Blood sample collection for CPTP began December 19, 2008 and ended on July 31, 2015. Approximately 50 mL of non-fasting blood was collected from each of 29,183 consenting research participants who attended a study centre. Post collection, blood samples were divided into 0.5mL or 1mL cryovial aliquots:

  • 9 aliquots of plasma (1mL each)
  • 5 aliquots of Serum Separator Tube (SST) serum (0.5mL each)
  • 5 aliquots of red top serum (0.5mL each)
  • 3 aliquots of buffy coat (0.5mL each)
  • 3 aliquots of red blood cells (1mL each)

Urine Samples: 2009 – June 30, 2015 (30,044 participants)

Spot collection urine samples were donated by a total of 30,044 research participants between December 19, 2008 and June 30, 2015. Stored in 1ml cryovial aliquots, a maximum of 7 aliquots of urine were collected from each research participant.

Saliva Samples: 2009 – January 20, 2016: (9,710 participants)

Participants unwilling or unable to donate blood samples at a study centre were offered the opportunity to donate saliva instead. Saliva samples were collected in Oragene DNA OG-250 kits and mailed to ATP via Canada Post. A total of 9,710 research participants donated saliva between January 13, 2009, and January 20, 2016. DNA is currently being extracted from these saliva samples.