The Scottish Health Survey 2021 - volume 1: main report

Presents results for the Scottish Health Survey 2021, providing information on the health and factors relating to health of people living in Scotland.

This document is part of 2 collections

Foreword from the Chief Medical Officer

This report presents the findings of the 2021 Scottish Health Survey. The survey results are more important than ever this year in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our health and wellbeing.

The survey provides us with immensely valuable information on cardiovascular disease, other health conditions, mental wellbeing, dental health and health related risk factors including smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity and obesity. In 2021, questions on drug use and long COVID were included for the first time and dietary information for adults was collected using online dietary recalls (Intake24) allowing for monitoring of a number of the Scottish Dietary Goals. Questions on food insecurity, accidents and gambling (asked periodically) were also included.

The protections necessitated by the pandemic meant that the 2021 survey could not be conducted in the usual way of interviewing people within the home. Telephone interviews were undertaken instead, with interviewers able to visit sampled addresses to encourage response in the latter part of the year. The variation in survey methods should be borne in mind when interpreting changes compared with previous surveys.

Key changes highlighted in the survey results for 2021 include a decrease in levels of mental wellbeing compared to pre-pandemic and particularly high levels of food insecurity amongst single parent and single adult households in 2019/2021. We see smoking prevalence continuing to fall and an increase in the proportion of adults meeting the physical activity guidelines.

The survey was commissioned by the Scottish Government and produced by a collaboration between ScotCen Social Research, the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow and the Public Health Nutrition Research Group at Aberdeen University.

I welcome this valuable report and thank the consortium led by ScotCen Social Research for their cooperation and support in developing the survey and for conducting the survey and preparing this report. Most importantly, I would like to thank the 6,157 people who gave their time to participate. The information they have provided is invaluable in developing, evaluating and monitoring population health policy in Scotland at this time.

Professor Sir Gregor Smith

Chief Medical Officer for Scotland



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