Health and Social Surveys Research Group
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Scottish Health Survey (SHeS)

Principal researchers:

The 2008-11 Scottish Health Survey, commissioned by the Scottish Government, is the fourth in a series of surveys of the population living in private households in Scotland. The focus of the survey is children and cardiovascular disease. All age groups are eligible to participate. By using a rolling programme design, larger numbers can be included over time, enabling key analyses to be conducted at Health Board level, in additional to the usually country-wide analyses.

As the only national population-based health survey in Scotland, the Scottish Health Survey has assisted the Scottish Government in monitoring progress towards its health targets as set out in Scotland's Health: A Challenge to Us All (1992) and the Green Paper Working Together for a Healthier Scotland (1999), Improving Health in Scotland: The Challenge (2003, 2004), and the survey is closely modelled on the Health Survey for England but has some unique features.

The first Scottish Health Survey was conducted by the Joint Health Surveys Unit (of UCL/NatCen Social Research) in 1995 for the Scottish Office Department of Health. Interviews and nurse visits were carried among a sample of 16-64 year olds.

Topics included self-reported general health, respiratory problems, symptoms of the chest and cardiovascular problems, physical activity, eating habits, GHQ12, accidents, smoking, drinking, dental health, use of contraceptive pill, prescribed drugs and supplements, food poisoning and various socioeconomic factors. Measurements included height and weight, waist & hip circumference, blood pressure and lung function. Blood samples were taken and analysed for haemoglobin, ferritin, fibrinogen, total and HDL cholesterol, gamma gt and cotinine. Vitamins A, C and E, and carotinoinds were analysed in additional blood samples from a sub-sample of 1,000 informants.

The 1998 Scottish Health Survey added children aged 2-15 and older informants aged 65-74 to its sample. It included all of the 1995 survey topics and measurements, and added questions covering asthma, incontinence and nicotine replacements, and measurement of mid-upper arm circumference in children aged 2-15, and demispan in informants aged 65-74. C-reactive protein was added to the blood sample analytes, and total and house dust mite specific IgE and lead were analysed in blood samples from 11-15 year olds. Cotinine was measured in saliva rather than blood.

The 2003-4 Scottish Health Survey was commissioned by the Scottish Executive. The focus of the 2003-4 survey was young children and cardio-vascular disease. All age groups were eligible to participate. The results were written up by researchers from UCL, ScotCen Social Research, NatCen Social Research and the MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at Glasgow University, and the report was published in 2005.

New topics for 2003-4 included questions about immunisation, feeding and measurements at birth for children aged 0-2 years and the measurement of infant length for those aged 6 weeks to up to two years. ECGs were carried out with a sub-sample of around 700 adults aged 35+. SHS 2003-4 also included the 1998 survey topics and measurements; blood samples were taken from adults and analysed for haemoglobin, ferritin, fibrinogen, total and HDL cholesterol, and from children for total and house dust mite IgE. A urine sample was collected from around 1000 adults to measure sodium intake, and cotinine was analysed from saliva in adults.

The 2008 - 2011 Scottish Health Survey was organised by the ScotCen Social Research, working with UCL, NatCen Social Research and the MRC unit in Glasgow. From 2012 onwards, the Scottish Health Survey is no longer including a nurse visit. Height and weight will continue to be measured by the trained interviewers.

Further details on the content and findings of the Scottish Health Surveys can be found in:

- Rutherford L, Sharp C and Bromley C (2012) The Scottish Health Survey 2011. Edinburgh: The Scottish Government.

- Bromley C and Mindell J (2011) The Scottish Health Survey: Topic Report: Older People's Health. Edinburgh: The Scottish Government.
- Bromley C and Given L (2011) Scottish Health Survey 2010. Edinburgh: The Scottish Government.
- Bromley C and Shelton N (2010) The Scottish Health Survey: UK Comparisons. Edinburgh: The Scottish Government.
- Bromley C, Given L and Ormston R (2010) Scottish Health Survey 2009. Edinburgh: The Scottish Government.
- Bromley C, Bradshow P and Given L (2009) Scottish Health Survey 2008. Edinburgh: The Scottish Government.
- Bromley C, Sproston K and Shelton N (2005) Scottish Health Survey 2003. Edinburgh: The Stationery Office.
- Shaw A, McMunn A and Field J (2000) Scottish Health Survey 1998. Edinburgh: The Stationery Office.
- Erens B and Dong W (1997) Scottish Health Survey 1995. Edinburgh: The Stationery Office.

The datasets for the 1995, 1998, 2003 and 2008-2010 Scottish Health Surveys are available through Data Archive at Essex University. Further information can be obtained from:

The Data Archive,
University of Essex,
Wivenhoe Park,
Colchester,
Essex CO4 3SQ.
Telephone 01206 872001
Fax 01206 872003
Email: archive@essex.ac.uk

The questions from the 1995 and 1998 Scottish Health Surveys are held on the Question Bank at the Centre for Applied Social Surveys.

Page last modified on 22 jan 13 12:44