Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey 2015: teenage lifestyle trends

Report on the lifestyles trends of 13 and 15 year olds in Scotland.

This document is part of a collection

1 Introduction and background

This report presents the findings from the contextual lifestyle questions of the 2015 wave of the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey. The research was commissioned by the Scottish Government and carried out by Ipsos MORI Scotland.

In addition, data was taken from the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey ( SALSUS) Trend data 1990-2013 in order to analyse the long term trends for these contextual questions.

Survey background

The Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey ( SALSUS) is a continuation of a long established series of national surveys on smoking, drinking and drug use. These were carried out jointly in Scotland and England between 1982 and 2000, to provide a national picture of young peoples' smoking (from 1982), drinking (from 1990), and drug use (from 1998) within the context of other lifestyle, health and social factors. Since 2002, Scotland has developed its own, more tailored survey known as SALSUS.

Survey purpose

SALSUS measures progress towards Scottish Government targets for smoking and drug use, and is used to inform the Scottish Government priority of addressing harmful drinking among young people.

The survey series also provides local prevalence rates for smoking, drinking and drug use across Alcohol and Drug Partnerships ( ADPs), local authorities and NHS Boards. SALSUS data are used in a number of the ADP national core indicators, which allows the ADPs to monitor their progress against a common set of outcomes. ADPs and their community planning partners make extensive use of SALSUS data in local needs assessments and in developing their strategic priorities.

SALSUS is foremost a survey about substance use in adolescence and the outputs are therefore focused on prevalence of smoking, drinking and drug use. However, the survey contains a wealth of information on the behaviour of young people in Scotland over the last 30 years. While these variables are reported on in terms of their relationship with substance use, they have never been reported in their own right.

This report explores the other contextual lifestyle topics included in SALSUS. It covers trends in school, friends, leisure activities, family life and health. The report does not cover substance use and mental health which are explored in other reports in the SALSUS publication series which can be accessed here:


SALSUS is a self-completion survey administered by teachers in a mixed ability class, under exam conditions. In the past the survey has been completed on paper, but for the first time, in the 2015 wave, half of the sample completed the survey online [3] .

A random, nationally representative sample of S2 and S4 pupils in Scottish schools was drawn with classes as the primary sampling unit. All local authority and independent schools in Scotland were eligible for inclusion in the sample, with the exception of special schools.

Fieldwork was completed between September 2015 and January 2016. A total of 13,607 S2 and 11,697 S4 pupils responded.

Throughout the report pupils in S2 are referred to as '13 year olds' and S4 pupils are referred to as '15 year olds' for ease. It should be borne in mind that some pupils within these categories may be slightly older or younger.

Some pupils did not answer each question. Where answers are missing, these have been excluded from the analysis and so charts and tables that describe the same population may have varying bases. When differences between estimates are specifically commented on in the report, these differences are statistically significant to the level of 0.05 [4] .

Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

For full details of the methodology, please see the SALSUS 2015 Technical Report [5] . Also see Appendix A for the full 2015 questionnaire.

Finally, it is important to note, that while there are associations between variables explored in this report, conclusions about causality cannot be drawn.


Email: Julie Guy

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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