1. Introduction

The Scottish Health Survey (SHeS) provides a detailed picture of the health of the Scottish population in private households and is designed to make a major contribution to the monitoring of health in Scotland.

The information is used to inform policy decisions about health services and to help with planning services in Scotland. The survey is funded by the Scottish Government.

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2. Why is this study important?

It is essential for the Scottish Government's forward planning, for identifying gaps in health services provision and for identifying which groups are at particular risk of future ill-health.

Prior to the introduction of the Scottish Health Survey in 1995 there was no comprehensive picture of the health of the population, its biological characteristics or health-related behaviour available at national level, nor on how these characteristics may be changing over time. The Scottish Health Survey was therefore designed to overcome this lack of knowledge with a number of specific aims.

Previous Scottish Health Surveys were undertaken in 1995, 1998 and 2003. Since 2008, the Scottish Health Survey has been conducted annually and this will continue going forward. An annual report is published for each year of the survey (the latest published report was for 2016 data). For more information about the latest data visit the Scottish Government Video.

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3. Why should I take part?

By taking part, you will help the NHS, policy-makers and charities make the right decisions about important matters that affect the health and wellbeing of people in Scotland.

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4. What is involved?

If you have received a letter asking you to take part, an interviewer will call at your house to explain more about the study and will be happy to arrange a convenient time to conduct the interview to suit you. Interviewers are available during the day, in the evenings and at weekends and carry an identity card, for your reassurance. By taking part in the study, you will ensure that your circumstances become an important part of the bigger picture of life in Scotland today and will be helping to influence matters that affect us all.

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5. How will the information be used?

Your data will be handled in accordance with data protection legislation and no-one will be identified from the results published.

The answers you give will be put together with the answers collected from thousands of other people across Scotland. Information is analysed anonymously and statistics are produced that do not identify you or anyone in your household or reveal personal information that might be used to identify individuals. The statistics will be published in reports and tables, which will be freely available on the Scottish Government website.

For further information on how the information you provide will be used, please see the Privacy Notice on the Scottish Government’s website.

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6. Who is carrying out the study?

The Scottish Government has asked ScotCen Social Research, in collaboration with Office for National Statistics (ONS), the Medical Research Council Social and Public Health Sciences Unit (MRC SPHSU) at the University of Glasgow, and academics from the Universities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh, to carry out the survey. ScotCen, the MRC SPHSU and the Universities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh are independent of all government departments and political parties. ONS is the UK’s independent producer of official statistics. ONS interviewers facilitate data collection on behalf of ScotCen, who are carrying out the survey for Scottish Government. More information about ScotCen Social Research is available on their website.

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7. Do I have to take part?

Our work is very important and we need your help to make our studies successful. Every year about half a million people help us by taking part in our studies. No-one has to take part if they do not want to, but for us to paint an accurate picture of our society, it is vital that we interview as many people as possible, from all walks of life.

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8. Why have I been selected?

Households are selected at random from the Royal Mail's Postcode Address File, which is available to the public. Now that you have been selected we cannot replace you with anyone else. This means your participation is very important to the success of this official study in ensuring that the Scottish population is properly represented.

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9. Who can I contact for further information?

If you have any further queries about taking part in the survey, please contact us on +44 (0)800 298 5313.

The opening times for the phone line are:

Monday to Thursday 9am to 9pm
Friday 9am to 8pm
Saturday 9am to 1pm

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