Scottish Health Survey – telephone survey – August/September 2020: main report

Presents results for the Scottish Health Survey – telephone survey- August to September 2020, providing information on the health and factors relating to health of people living in Scotland.

This document is part of a collection

Foreword from the Chief Medical Officer

Dr Gregor Smith, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Scottish Government Health Directorates

This report presents the findings of the 2020 Scottish Health Survey – Telephone survey, presenting results for the period August/September 2020. 

The survey provides us with immensely valuable information on cardiovascular disease and related risk factors including smoking, alcohol consumption, diet, physical activity and obesity. Questions on general health, mental health and dental health were also included. This information provided by the survey is more important than ever in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our physical and mental health and daily lives. A shortened version of the survey questionnaire focussing on key indicators was adopted together with additional questions about some perceived changes since the UK went into nationwide lockdown in March and whether the respondent was at high clinical risk of COVID-19 (the group previously advised to shield).  

The restrictions necessitated by the pandemic meant that the survey could not be conducted in the usual way of interviewing people within the home and, as such, was adapted to an opt-in telephone model enabling key information to continue to be collected at this time of immense change.  Shifting a complex household survey to an alternative methodology and in such a short period of time was a significant undertaking and experimental in nature.  Lessons have been learnt which are being used to inform the approach for 2021 as we continue to work within the context of the pandemic.

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 am pleased to welcome this valuable report and to 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 also like to thank the 1,920 people who gave their time to participate. The information they have provided is invaluable in developing and monitoring public health policy in Scotland at this time.

Dr Gregor Smith

Chief Medical Officer for Scotland

Scottish Government Health Directorates



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