UCL News


Third national survey of sexual attitudes and lifestyles

19 August 2010


NATSAL survey logo natsal.ac.uk/" target="_self">Natsal 2010
  • Professor Anne Johnson
  • UCL Division of Population Health
  • A team of researchers from UCL with other academic institutions is conducting the 2010 National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal 2010).

    The UCL team will work with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the National Centre for Social Research to carry out the research.

    This will be the third consecutive decade that the team conducts a comprehensive, random-sample study across Britain to help inform public policy and health initiatives.

    Professor Anne Johnson, Director of the UCL Division of Population Health, is leading the UCL team.

    The researchers will make use of the latest technology to interview 15,000 men and women aged 16-74 over the next 24 months. The households approached will be randomly selected and one person from each will be invited to participate, to ensure that the survey represents views and lifestyles of people from all walks of life and regions of Britain.

    Click on the player below to see Professor Johnson discuss the survey

    Self-completion computer technology will be used for part of the interview, allowing participants to 'interview themselves' in privacy. This method has been shown to lead to more accurate reporting, especially on sensitive topics.

    Improving sexual health status is a national public health priority. This research will help to inform and evaluate interventions designed to achieve this goal. In the short video above, Professor Johnson describes the significance of the findings of the 1990 and 2000 surveys:

    "The 1990 survey involved nearly 19,000 people across Britain and was designed to understand how HIV might spread in Britain and how its spread might be prevented. It also helped improve services and education in sexual health generally.

    "In 2000, we were able to show that risky behaviour had increased consistent with increasing diagnoses of sexually transmitted infections. We showed that there was as much chlamydia infection without symptoms in men as women. These data were important in helping the design of the chlamydia screening programme which is now being undertaken in young people aged 16-24 and includes both men and women."

    While the 2010 survey will be based on the methods established in the previous surveys to allow comparisons to be made, it will also involve a number of new elements:

    • the age range of people interviewed will be extended to 74 years
    • the survey will explore sexual well-being as well as sexual ill-health, and will help understand the relationship between physical and sexual health throughout life
    • more information on sexually transmitted infections and sex hormones
    • a qualitative component to the study, designed to help understand human behaviour.

    The research is funded by the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Department of Health.

    UCL context

    The work of the UCL Division of Population Health ranges across stages of life from childhood through to old age. Its particular areas of activity in chronic disease epidemiology are on the social and biological determinants of health, particularly cardiovascular disease.

    In the field of infectious disease in populations, its researchers focus particularly on transmission and control of HIV and sexually transmitted infections, flu and tuberculosis. In mental health sciences the division leads international programmes of research in the epidemiology and control of common mental disorders. It also has strong national and international interdisciplinary collaborations with a large portfolio of international research related to global health.

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