Scottish Health Survey 2015 - volume 2: technical report

Details of the methodology and fieldwork for the Scottish Health Survey 2015.

2 Points to Note Before Starting

2.1 Consent

The issue of consent is of key concern in any of the projects conducted by NatCen. We are required to seek ethical approval for all of the projects we undertake involving bio-physical measures or samples, and as a result the protocols pertaining to consent within this manual are based on recommendations by an external medical Ethics Committee.

Consent must always be obtained for every measurement and sample taken. As a general guideline the measurements require verbal consent, while the samples, which are more invasive, require written consent. Written consent may also be asked for the storage of samples.

Based on the external ethics committee recommendations, obtaining consent varies according to age:

Participants aged 16 years and older may give consent on their own behalf.

We recognise that Participants aged 16 and 17 years are legally classed as minors, however the external ethics committee recommends that Participants of this age are competent enough to make their own decisions in regards to participating in the survey measurements and samples. Note that if 16-17 year olds are living with their parents you should ensure that their parents are aware of what you will be doing.

All of the measurements and samples outlined require at least verbal consent. Unless otherwise stated, in the protocol for a particular measurement / sample, only verbal consent is required. If written consent is required it will be clearly stated in the protocol and the process by which that consent must be gained.

2.2 Exclusion criteria and eligibility

Most of the procedures in this manual have exclusion criteria that need to be considered when conducting a measurement or taking a sample. These criteria are listed under each measurement and sample heading. It is important that the exclusion criteria are followed as they help to ensure the safety of, and prevent injury to both the Participant and the nurse or interviewer.

Note that no measurements or samples are taken from pregnant women, due to the altered physiology that occurs in pregnancy.

Each of the measurements and samples also has eligibility rules to consider. These rules are not listed here as they differ among the surveys. The eligibility rules can be found in the project specific instructions for each survey.

2.3 General equipment care

All of the measurements and samples require some type of equipment. Please take care when using the equipment. In each protocol is a list of the equipment required as well as information on how to use it. Please follow these guidelines.

This equipment is expensive and most of it is easily damaged if it is not transported and/or stored correctly. Please use the bags and boxes provided to store and transport the equipment as it will help to prevent it from being damaged.

Calibrated instruments are particularly fragile and if they are knocked it could cause them to provide inaccurate measurements. Please handle the calibrated instruments with care and maintain them according to guidelines in the manual.

Always ensure that the equipment is in good working order before you go to an interview e.g. batteries are fully charged, and that you are carrying a set of spare batteries with you.

If you suspect that any of the equipment is faulty and/or damaged, please report this to the Equipment Supervisor at Brentwood who will be able to advise you on what action to take.

2.4 Infection Control and Manual Handling Issues

NatCen follows 'best practice' principles when working in the Field, specifically to reduce the risks of cross infection when visiting multiple households and individuals to conduct field work and also to reduce the risks of manual handling injuries to nurses and interviewers when transporting and using the equipment provided.

Each of the protocols therefore highlights any special cross infection procedure to follow and any specific manual handling issue to be aware of. Please ensure you follow these instructions and if you experience any problems please contact the Equipment Supervisor or your Nurse / Interviewer Supervisor for further advice or help.

2.5 Recording measurements

The anthropometric measurements require the results to be recorded in the metric format. Within the metric system, there are 10 millimetres (mm) in a centimetre (cm) and 100 centimetres (cm) in a metre (m). CAPI requires that measurements be recorded in the form 123.4cm (to one decimal place only). If a reading falls between two millimetres, it should be rounded and recorded to the nearest even millimetre. For example if a Participant has a height reading that falls between 166.7 and 166.8, the reading of 166.8 should be recorded. Similarly, if the reading falls between 166.6 and 166.7, 166.6 should be recorded. By doing it this way, we ensure that our final data is not biased due to always rounding up or down.

2.6 Participant feedback

Most surveys provide immediate feedback to Participants of some measurements by recording the results on a Measurement Record Card. If the Participant wishes to know their results they should be recorded here.

Please do not comment on the meaning of a Participant's results in general or on their results in relation to other people taking part in the survey. The only exception to this rule is the blood pressure measurement where some comments can be given to the Participant, according to the instructions outlined in the blood pressure protocol.


Email: Julie Landsberg,

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