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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): For Participants in the CAMH Monitor

The CAMH Monitor is an ongoing health survey of Ontario adults (aged 18 years and older) conducted by CAMH since 1977. It is the longest ongoing adult substance use and mental health survey in Canada and one of the longest in the world.
The main purpose of this anonymous survey is to describe trends in smoking, drinking, drug use, mental health, physical health, impaired driving, and other risk behaviours among Ontario adults, as well as opinions on various policy measures in Ontario. 
The Institute for Social Research (ISR) at York University has administered the survey since 1991.

How we get your contact information
Managing your privacy
Sharing the results

If you have any other questions regarding the survey, please email

What types of questions are in the CAMH Monitor survey?
The survey asks about a range of health behaviours and issues, such as smoking, drinking, drug use, mental health, physical health, driving-related behaviours, and opinions and attitudes related to some of these matters. Every year, the survey contains a set of questions that are the same as those asked in previous years. This repetition allows us to detect emerging trends. We also introduce new questions each year to capture information about timely public health issues that are of general concern.
How many people participate in the survey?
Typically, about 3,000 Ontario adults complete the survey over the phone every calendar year. The survey is part of a large ongoing research program at CAMH.
How long does it take to complete the interview?
The average time to complete the telephone survey is about 20 minutes, and some respondents complete the survey in as little as 10 minutes.
Has this study been approved by an ethics committee?
Yes, all studies that we conduct have been reviewed and approved by the Research Ethics Board at CAMH and the Research Ethics Committee at York University. 
Why do you want to talk to me, since I don’t know anything about this topic?
We are just trying to get a sense of people’s experiences and opinions. There are no right or wrong answers. You do not have to answer any questions you do not want to, but your opinions and experiences are very important to us. We think that you will find that the questions are straightforward, and most questions have multiple-choice answers.

Who should complete the survey?
Only respondents who are age 18 and over and live in Ontario should complete this survey from each household. Each respondent should complete the survey only once.


How did you get my telephone number?
We did not get your telephone number from the telephone directory – the telephone numbers that we call are randomly generated by a computer that creates a list of 10-digit numbers for us to call. Because the list of numbers is randomly generated, it includes landline, cell phone, listed, unlisted, and newly activated telephone numbers.  As a result, we are unaware of who we are calling. Sometimes, we reach businesses, numbers that are not in service, or even pay phones! We generate telephone numbers in this way to make sure the people we call are a random sample of the population and to protect the confidentiality of people we interview.
How did you get my home address?
Whenever possible, we mail a letter of introduction to the randomly selected households to let household residents know to expect a phone call from one of our interviewers at the Institute for Social Research (ISR) at York University. We time the letter to arrive about one week before the telephone interviews will begin. As you might have noticed, the letter was addressed to “The xxx Household.” The letter is not addressed to a particular individual since we have no information about who lives in the household or which adult will be randomly selected to participate in the survey. We use a reverse directory that links the telephone number with a street address.
How did you get my first name?
If our interviewer asks to speak with you using your first name, this means that our interviewer called your household telephone number earlier and, with the help of someone who lives in your household, you were randomly selected to do the interview as you are the adult in the household who will have the next birthday. In this case, the person we spoke with in your household gave us your first name because you were not available when we called.

Managing your privacy

Who will see my answers? Can I be identified?
We can assure you that all of the information you provide, including your answers and any other information, will remain completely confidential. Only researchers closely involved with the project will see the anonymous data and examine the findings, and they do not look at individual responses but rather group responses, for example, what percentage of people agreed or disagreed with a particular statement. Participants' names are never collected and therefore never included when the results of the study are released so there is no way that you would be identified as a participant in the study.
Why do you ask about the adult who will have the next birthday in our household?
In order for our survey to be truly random, we cannot just speak with the first person who answers the telephone. If we did, this would not be an accurate, scientific cross-section of the population. By asking to interview the adult who will have the next birthday, we give everyone an equal chance to be selected since any adult living in the household might have the next birthday.
Why do you want my name if it’s confidential?
We do not need your full name – just your first name will do or even your initial. This helps us to keep track of people during our random selection process. If you are selected to do the interview and cannot do the survey right then, we can call back at a more convenient time. Having your first name or your initial makes it easier and a bit more polite when we call back.
Why do you need to know the number of people in my household?
Asking for the number of people in your household helps us to make sure that the people we are interviewing have the same background characteristics as the general population, and that our sample is representative of the adult population of Ontario.

Sharing the results

When will the survey results be available?
The results from our surveys are available about a year after the survey cycle is completed.

The results are available to the public in a report describing trends in the use of alcohol and other drugs and in mental health and well-being. See our latest trend report and an infographic that illustrates key findings from the report.

Health professionals use the results to identify areas of concern and emerging trends and to create programs and policies in Ontario. The media frequently use the results when covering health issues affecting Ontarians.
How does this survey benefit the people of Ontario?
Participating in surveys like this gives you the opportunity to express your opinions about important issues, and your participation adds to our knowledge about topics of interest to Ontarians. Government leaders and other decision-makers use the findings from these kinds of studies to help them to develop policies that are informed by the opinions and experiences of average Ontarians.


For more information about the study, email with your questions, or  call the Institute for Social Research at York University (toll-free) at 1.888.847.0148 or, in Toronto, at 416.736.5393.

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