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Interviewee FAQs

This section provides information to those who have been asked to take part in the Scottish Health Survey. A list of the most frequently asked questions and the corresponding answers are also provided below.

In line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a privacy notice has been prepared for the Scottish Health Survey:


If you have any additional queries, or wish to speak to someone about participating, please call (freephone) 0800 652 4569.


Members of the general public in Scotland are being interviewed as part of the continuous Scottish Health Survey, which began in January 2008.

Each year around 5,000 adults and 2,000 children in Scotland will be interviewed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What will happen to any information I give?

The Scottish Government and NHS Health Scotland will treat information you give in strict confidence. The results of the study will never include any names or addresses. The information collected is used for statistical and research purposes only and will be dealt with according to the principles of the 1998 Data Protection Act.

Who is carrying out the study?

The Scottish Government and NHS Health Scotland asked the Scottish Centre for Social Research (ScotCen), in collaboration with the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London (UCL) and the MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow, to carry out the survey.

The Scottish Centre for Social Research is a registered charity (Registered Charity No. 1091768). ScotCen, UCL and the MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow are independent of all government departments and political parties.

How did you choose my address?

We chose your address from the Postcode Address File using random selection procedures. This file is held by the Post Office and is available to the public.

How long will it take?

The interview length will vary depending upon a number of factors such as how many people live in your household and how old they are. When the interviewer calls he or she can give you an idea of how long your interview might take, and can then book an appointment at a time that suits you best.

What is the survey about?

The questions you will be asked are about your health and lifestyle.

Why is this research important and why should I take part?

The survey provides information about the health of people all over Scotland which cannot be obtained from other sources. This includes information about lifestyles as well as about health. This is the only way that the Scottish Government can get feedback from the average family, rather than statistics from people in hospital or from those who visit their GP. It is also the only way they can link information on lifestyles and health. The Scottish Health Survey 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.

We need to talk to different types of people to get an accurate picture of the health of the nation. The Scottish Health Survey is designed to represent people of different ages, sexes, geographic areas and backgrounds across the nation.

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:

  • to estimate the prevalence of particular health conditions in Scotland
  • to estimate the prevalence of certain risk factors associated with these health conditions and to document the pattern of related health behaviours
  • to look at differences between regions and between subgroups of the population in the extent of their having these particular health conditions or risk factors, and to make comparisons with other national statistics for Scotland and England
  • to monitor trends in the population's health over time
  • to make a major contribution to monitoring progress towards health targets

You may also wish to look at our uses of survey data page.

Why have I been chosen to take part?

The Scottish Health Survey is designed to provide information on the health of people in Scotland. To visit every household in Scotland would take too long and cost too much money. Instead we select a sample of addresses and ask the people at those addresses to take part in the Survey.

Addresses are chosen at random from a list obtained from the post office. Interviewers do not know who lives at the address until they visit it. Different addresses are chosen each year.

Once an address has been selected for the survey, we cannot replace it with another address. This means that we rely on the goodwill of those who have been chosen for the success of our study.

What does participation involve?

If your household has been selected to take part in the Scottish Health Survey, we will first send you a letter to inform you and to ask for your participation. You will then receive a visit from an interviewer.

Please note that all interviewers carry an identity card with their photograph - they must show you this when they visit your address. Local police have been alerted to the fact that interviewers are working in their area. Never let an interviewer into your household until you have seen their identity card.

The questions you will be asked are all about your health and lifestyle, so they are interesting and easy to answer.

Is the study confidential?


Any information given to us will be treated in the strictest confidence. Results are only ever presented as statistics, not in a form which can reveal your identity.

Information collected or used for statistical purposes by the Scottish Government, including information collected for administrative or management purposes, must maintain respondents' confidentiality at all times. The Scottish Government's corporate policy on confidentiality is followed in all aspects of data collection and analysis relating to the Scottish Health Survey.

Did you know? (Facts from the 2014 Scottish Health Survey)
  • Around three quarters of adults describe their health as 'good' or 'very good'.
  • Around 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 7 children eat five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
  • Around 1 in 5 adults report that they currently smoke cigarettes.  Of these, 15% currently use e-cigarettes, compared to 1% of people who have never smoked regularly.
  • 46% of men and 36% of women drink outwith government guidelines on daily and weekly drinking.
  • 63% of adults (68% of men, 59% of women) are physically active at the recommended levels.  In children, 76% meet the activity recommendations (79% of boys, 73% of girls).
  • 46% of adults report having a long-term physical or mental conidition, with 31% reporting a condition which limits their daily activitiies.
Where can I find out more about the Scottish Health Survey?

Links to each survey, including the main and technical reports, can be found on our publications page.

Contact details and further information

If you would like to talk to someone about the study, please call (freephone) 0800 652 4569.