Scottish Health Survey 2024 - development study: how we use your information

How we use the information you provide in the development study.

The Scottish Health Survey is a Scottish Government survey which collects information about people’s health. It is used to provide information on the health of people in Scotland and factors that affect health such as eating habits, physical activity, smoking and drinking alcohol. The Scottish Health Survey Development Study helps the survey team to test the questionnaire and ensure that the processes are ready prior to the start of  the full 2024 survey. Taking part is voluntary. Interviewers from NatCen Social Research carry out the survey. They will all carry an official identification card.

Why the survey is needed 

The Scottish Health Survey provides information to monitor how well Scottish Ministers are meeting their duty under the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1978 to promote the improvement of the health of people in Scotland. 

The information gathered through the survey contributes to: 

  • monitoring the population’s health 
  • progress made towards health targets

The survey is conducted as “public task in the public interest” under the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1978. Some of the information you are asked to provide is sensitive personal data (special category data), for example questions on health, ethnicity and religion. We ensure that processing of this data is proportionate and necessary for statistical research purposes under the General Data Protection Regulation (article 9, section (2)).

How we got your details 

To contact every household in Scotland would take too long and cost too much. Instead we select a sample of addresses from the list of all known postal addresses held by the Royal Mail and ask people at each address to take part in the survey. 

What happens to the information you provide 

Your answers are treated with care and with full respect for your privacy in accordance with data protection legislation. The information you provide will be used to test and improve the survey prior to launch and the results of this phase will not be published.

To increase the value of the information provided, survey answers for SHeS surveys are linked to answers from NHS records, unless participants opt out. However, as this survey is part of the development phase of the Scottish Health Survey 2024, if you take part, no information will be linked to your survey answers. 

What happens if you agree to be contacted about further research

During the survey you will be asked if you consent to be contacted about further research.  This is for the purpose of testing the processes in the survey only. Even if you consent, your contact details will not be made available to researchers or academics for further research. 

What happens if you agree to complete Intake24 

Adult participants will be asked to complete the online dietary tool Intake24. If you agree to take part, you will be given an anonymous username by your interviewer, this will enable you to log in securely and anonymously to Intake24 online and allow the NatCen researchers to link your Intake24 answers with the answers you gave in the Scottish Health Survey household interview.

Your name, email and mobile telephone number, if you agree to provide them, will be used by NatCen to send you an instant link to Intake24. If you cannot access Intake24 online, with your consent, NatCen will share your name and telephone number with the University of Cambridge for the sole purpose of completing the diary with you by telephone. The University of Cambridge will store your contact details separately to your survey answers and will delete them at the end of the study.

How long your information is stored for 

All your survey answers are stored securely and confidentially under the terms of data protection legislation. The survey dataset, containing your survey responses but not including anything that identifies you, will be stored by NatCen Social Research until the full survey starts in February 2024. This is to allow analysis to be carried out as required in advance of the full survey. After the full survey starts we will securely delete your data.  Your personal details are stored separately from your survey answers. 

Your rights 

Taking part in the survey is voluntary. You are free to withdraw from any part of the survey at any time, and you do not have to answer all the questions. 

Your decision on whether to take part will not affect any health care you receive, and no health or social care professional involved in your care will know whether or not you chose to take part. 

Under data protection legislation you have the right to be informed about how your personal data will be used (see ‘How to contact us’ below). 


If you would like further information regarding how your information is used, please contact the Scottish Health Survey team at the Scottish Government. 

Email Phone 0131 244 2368. 

Read more information for interviewees.

If you have any concerns about how your information is being used you can contact the Scottish Government Data Protection Officer by emailing

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