Most everyone has heard references to the Nurses’ Health Study, which was begun in 1976 to determine the long-term effects of diet, hormones, environment, and the workplace on health and longevity. When the study was begun 4 decades ago, the researchers were brilliant to choose nurses as the study population since nurses understand the importance of research and generally speaking, are “type A” people who would likely hang in with the study for the long-term. And they have. Over 90% of the 238,000 nurses initially enrolled are still actively participating in the study.
The Nurses’ Health Study researchers are now seeking 100,000 new participants to form a diverse cohort of female RNs or LPN/LVNs (or students) who are between the ages of 20 and 46 from across the U.S. and Canada. Nurses and students can be working, not working, or retired. The study objectives remain the same—to learn more about the long-term effects of diet, hormones, the environment, and the workplace on nurses’ health. More information about what we’ve learned from the Nurses’ Health Study is available on the study’s website, http://www.channing.harvard.edu/nhs/.
Surveys are done online every 6 months and data are protected. Email notifications are sent as reminders to take a new survey, and the system is set up so that if an interruption occurs while completing a survey, data that have been entered are saved. Survey 1, which is completed when an individual joins the study, collects demographic data, a medical history, and information about lifestyle and occupational exposures. Survey 2 includes a detailed reproductive history and questions about current diet and physical activity. Survey 3 updates the medical history and asks about lifetime physical activity. Participants may be asked if they are interested in participating in sub-studies on specific topics, such as fertility. Each of the Nurses’ Health Studies continues throughout the lifespan of the participants. Nurses and students who are interested in participating in this study and meet eligibility requirements can join the study by visiting www.nhs3.org.