From the dangers of tobacco and trans fats to the benefits of physical activity and whole grains, much of what we know about health today is thanks to the Nurses' Health Study.
Researchers are recruiting 100,000 nurses and nursing students to join the long-running Nurses' Health Study and expand its landmark research on women's health.
Female RNs, LPNs, and nursing students between the ages of 20 and 46 who live in the U.S. or Canada are eligible to join the study. More than 25,000 have signed up already, and recruitment will stay open until the goal of 100,000 participants is reached.
Researchers hope to engage a highly diverse group of women in the "next generation" of the study. For the first time, nursing students are eligible to enroll.
In order to make participation as convenient as possible for busy women, participants can join online and complete the study's surveys through a secure website, http://www.nhs3.org/.
More than 250,000 nurses have participated in the study since the 1970s. By completing confidential lifestyle surveys, they have helped advance medical knowledge about nutrition, exercise, cancer, heart disease, and many other conditions.
"Nurses were originally recruited for their expertise in accurately reporting health data," explains Dr. Walter Willett, the study's lead researcher and Chair of the Nutrition Department at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Mass. "Their involvement has been invaluable, and their dedication is remarkable—an astounding 90% of them are still enrolled, decades later! The new group, NHS3, will allow us understand how today's lifestyle and environment affect a woman's health in the future."
Nurses enrolled in the earlier studies are encouraging their daughters and younger colleagues to join. "My mom started filling out surveys when the study began," one nurse recently commented on the NHS3 Facebook page (www.facebook.com/NHS3.org). "I am so proud to be part of this study and see what it has done."
NURSES' HEALTH STUDIES
Started in 1976 and expanded in 1989, the Nurses' Health Studies have led to many important insights on women's health, including cancer prevention, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Most importantly, these studies showed that diet, physical activity, and other lifestyle factors can powerfully promote better health. www.nhs3.org