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What is a chronic disease?

A chronic disease is a disease that is long-lasting or recurrent. Examples of chronic diseases include inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, gout, asthma, autoimmune hepatitis, ankylosing spondylitis.

What is the purpose of Canterbury Chronic Diseases Study?

Many chronic diseases are rapidly increasing in Canterbury, and as a result are becoming a major health issue in our region and other parts of New Zealand. The cause of most of these diseases is unknown. What is known is that the risk of developing a chronic disease is partly determined by a person's genes and partly by their lifestyle. The goal of this study is to identify these factors. If successful this study will help in the development of health strategies designed to better manage and prevent these diseases.

In the first instance we are seeking to recruit 1000 people randomly selected from the electoral roll. Each person selected will receive an invitation in the mail to participate in the study. People who agree to participate will be asked to complete a questionnaire which asks questions relating to medical history, life-style (e.g. smoking status, alcohol consumption, current occupation), and demographics (e.g. gender, ethnicity). Study participants will also be asked to provide a 15ml (~1 tablespoon) of blood for DNA, and 20ml of urine for the measurement of uric acid.


Why was I selected?

Your name was randomly chosen from the electoral roll for the Canterbury Area as one of 4,000 adults asked to take part in this important health study.

How do I take part?

Participation in the study is entirely voluntary.

This study involves

  • Completing a questionnaire so we are able to collect demographic, medical and lifestyle information
  • Providing 15mL of blood for DNA
  • Providing 20mL of urine for measurement of uric acid and other compounds
  • Agreeing to your DNA being stored for future research into chronic diseases.

What are the risks of the study?

Apart from the mild and temporary discomfort associated with a blood test there are no risks in being part of this study. Blood samples will only be taken by trained medical staff.

What happens to the urine sample?

10mL will be used to measure the amount of uric acid present in your urine. Uric acid levels below or above normal have been associated with a number of diseases including gout, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. The remaining half of the sample will be stored for the future study of other compounds in urine that may be indicators of chronic disease.

What happens to the blood sample?

The blood sample will be used to collect DNA (genetic material).

What is DNA?

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the genetic material that contains the 'blue prints' or 'code' needed for the development and functioning of almost all living organisms including humans.

Each person's DNA (their genes) is different - except in the case of identical twins. This genetic make-up is a mixture of the DNA inherited from your mother and father. Specific variations in DNA can cause or alter risk of developing a given disease.

How will the information and DNA collected in this study help identify risk factors for chronic disease?

The information from the health questionnaire and the DNA will be used to help us to identify genetic factors (i.e. variations in DNA) and lifestyle factors (e.g. smoking habits, alcohol consumption, type of job) that alter the risk of developing a chronic disease. For example, by determining how often a specific genetic variant occurs in a group of healthy people and comparing how often the same variant appears in a group of patients (e.g. with Crohn's disease) will help us to pin-point which variations in DNA alter risk of developing a specific disease and which variants are harmless and do not contribute to that disease. In a similar way, we can also compare various lifestyle factors between healthy people and patients. For example, if the number of smokers is markedly higher in a patient group than healthy people this suggests that smoking may increase risk of developing the disease being studied.

Will my privacy be protected?

Yes. No information that could identify you will be used in any reports on this study. All results will be coded by a system known only to the researchers.

Will I get paid for taking part in this study?

A $20 petrol voucher will be given to compensate for travel costs associated with providing blood and urine samples. This voucher will be sent to you after receipt of your blood and urine samples. There will be no payment for taking part in the study.

About us

The Canterbury Chronic Disease Study brings together clinicians and scientists with long-standing research interests in the development, management and prevention of chronic diseases. Our research team includes:

  • Dr Rebecca Roberts, Research Fellow
  • Associate Professor Richard Gearry, Consultant Gastroenterologist & Senior Lecturer in Medicine
  • Clinical Professor Murray Barclay, Consultant Gastroenterologist & Clinical Pharmacologist
  • Dr Jeffrey Ngu, Gastroenterology Registrar
  • Dr Catherine Stedman, Consultant Gastroenterologist
  • Dr Tony Merriman, Senior Research Fellow
  • Mrs Petra Shepard, Secretary & Research Co-ordinator

Useful links

Recruitment Forms

Contact details

Postal Address: Canterbury Chronic Diseases Study
c/- Clinical Pharmacology
Private Bag 4710
Christchurch Hospital
Christchurch 8140

Tel +64 3 364 1858

Ethics Approval

This study has received ethics approval from the Upper South A Regional Ethics Committee (Ethics ref: URA/08/08/048).


We thank the Christchurch Gastroenterology Research Trust for its financial support of this research.

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