1.1.In this section, we briefly outline the context of the report and the research.
1.2.Scotland has the highest mortality rate in Western Europe and many of the problems are related to substance misuse. Early intervention - policies and practices which steer young people away from substance use and towards positive choices - are critical in tackling these problems. Data on young people's substance misuse informs the development of policies and practices and helps to monitor and evaluate their effectiveness.
1.3.The Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS) has been the main vehicle for providing such data since 2002. It built upon earlier studies in the 1980s and 1990s. The survey provides official measures of progress towards targets for reducing smoking and drug use, and allows the Scottish Government to monitor their priority of addressing harmful drinking. Findings from the survey are used extensively in the development of Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP) Action Plans, in local prevention and education activities, and to inform service planning. SALSUS data supports a number of core ADP outcomes and indicators, and enables improved monitoring and reporting of progress in reducing the prevalence of substance use.
1.4.Producing a unified dataset that combines the multiple waves of data from the 6 separate waves of SALSUS together with the earlier studies will facilitate greater use of this resource.
1.5.The Scottish Government commissioned Ipsos MORI to examine the feasibility of combining these datasets into a single dataset, and, if it was deemed feasible, to create a unified dataset together with accompanying documentation.
1.6.This report summarises changes in the methodology and questionnaire coverage of SALSUS that could impact on the feasibility of producing a unified data-set. We conclude that the data is consistent enough that a combined dataset would allow meaningful analysis of trends over time and posit that Stage 2 of the research should proceed. We also set out our recommendations.
1.7.Accompanying this report is an excel spreadsheet. The spreadsheet gives details of the questionnaire coverage and questionnaire wording of all waves from 1982. This is a working draft and will evolve into the final database and documentation.
Email: Emma McCallum