Publication - Factsheet

Scottish Health Survey: 2021 update

Published: 16 Mar 2021

An update on the Scottish Health Survey (SHeS) which provides information on the health, and factors relating to health, of adults and children in Scotland.

16 Mar 2021
Scottish Health Survey: 2021 update

Scottish Health Survey: 2021 update

An update on the Scottish Health Survey (SHeS) which provides information on the health, and factors relating to health, of adults and children in Scotland.
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, all Scottish Government face-to-face interviewing, including SHeS, has been suspended since the 17 March 2020.

Impact of the suspension of face-to-face fieldwork on the 2021 Scottish Health Survey

As it is not known when it will be feasible to resume face-to-face interviewing, interviews for the 2021 survey will be conducted via telephone.  There will also be an online self-complete section and an online dietary tool, called INTAKE24, for participants to complete. Due to the time needed to set up these new processes, interviewing will begin in April 2021 and run until the end of the year. 

How the telephone survey differs from usual

The 2021 telephone survey questionnaire is similar to the usual format of the survey and includes all of the topics we would have included in a face-to-face interview. Both adults and children will be interviewed.

The topics included in the 2021 survey are: general health, mental wellbeing, dental health, accidents, CPR training, discrimination and harassment, stress at work, loneliness, social capital, eating habits, physical activity, smoking, alcohol, diseases of the heart, lungs and chest and self-reported height and weight. A new topic measuring drug use has also been included for the first time and a module on COVID, including questions on long-COVID and vaccinations.

As physical measurements cannot be taken by the interviewer, participants will be asked to provide self-reported height and weight measurements to allow the calculation of Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine levels of overweight and obesity.

Contacting participants

The sample for SHeS is selected from the Postcode Address File (PAF). Selected households will be sent a letter inviting them to take part and to get in touch to provide a telephone number via an online portal, email or telephone. If it becomes possible later in the year for interviewers to visit households to encourage response (a doorstep push to take part in the telephone interview) then this will be considered.  This approach may increase levels of response and the representivity of the achieved interviews.

The results of the telephone survey and how will they differ from usual

The results of the 2021 health survey will be published in Autumn 2022. Measures have been taken to encourage response in more deprived areas for which there were lower than usual levels of response in the August/September 2020 telephone survey. The inclusion of online self completions for more sensitive questions (with paper versions for those who would prefer) should make the results for those questions more comparable to results from the usual face-to-face survey.  Any remaining differences will be explained when the data is published.

Getting in touch

If you have any questions about the 2021 telephone survey, or anything else related to SHeS you can contact

Users will be kept updated on the future of SHeS through ScotStat communications. You can sign up to receive updates via the ScotStat website.

Latest health survey data

The results of the Scottish Health Survey for previous years are available.

If you are invited to take part in the Scottish Health Survey please say yes and help us to make a difference to the health of people in Scotland.


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