Joint Programming Initiative

More Years, Better Lives

The Potential and Challenges of Demographic Change

Health Survey for England (HSE)
Health Survey for England (HSE)

Health and Performance
Relevance for this Topic
Country United Kingdom
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Contact information

Health and Social Care Information Centre
Health and Social Care Information Centre
Several addresses across the UK:
United Kingdom
Phone: +44 (0)845 3006016
Email: enquiries(at)
, See also:

Timeliness, transparency

Data are available about 15 months after the end of fieldwork

Type of data


Type of Study

Cross-section, regular

Data gathering method

Face-to-face interview (CAPI, PAPI)

Face-to-face interview; Self-completion; Clinical measurements; Diaries; Physical measurements

Access to data

Data are available from the UK Data Service (previously the Economic and Social Data Service, ESDS): The website contains detailed information on conditions of access, and it is also possible to contact the UK Data Service by phone: +44 (0)1206 872143, or by email:

Conditions of access

Registration is required and standard UK Data Service conditions of use apply. The depositor may be informed about usage. All users are required to agree to the terms and conditions pertaining to the use of data. These are described in the End User Licence (EUL) and agreed to when registering with the UK Data Service. Researchers based at a UK institution of higher or further education (UK HE/FE) can access the UK Data Service through their library. If you are outside the UK you will need to apply for a UK Data Archive username and password, and then register with the UK Data Service. In general, data required for non-commercial purposes can be downloaded at no cost. If data are requested on portable media, e.g. CD, handling and postage and packing fees will apply. See:
For more information, see:

This depends upon the user and conditions of use.

Anonymised microdata

Survey data from the UK Data Service are usually available to download in SPSS, Stata and tab-delimited (suitable for use in MS Excel) formats.

Data is available in English.


The Health Survey for England (HSE) is a series of annual surveys about the health of people living in England. The survey started in 1991 and has been carried out annually since then. It is commissioned by The Health and Social Care Information Centre. Since 1994, the survey has been carried out by the HSE team of the Health and Social Survey Research group at the Department of Epidemiology at UCL with NatCen Social Research. The survey is used to help plan NHS services, look at ways of improving people’s health and changes to the nation’s health over time, and at inequalities in health. HSE includes adults aged 16 and over, and since 1995 has also included children aged 2-15. From 2001 onwards, the survey covers all ages, but certain age groups are asked questions on certain topics only. Information about children aged under the age of 13 is obtained from a parent, with the child present and obtained directly from persons aged 13 years and over. An interview with each eligible person in the household is followed by a nurse visit for those who agree to take part. The HSE includes a set of core questions, asked each year on general health and psycho-social indicators, smoking, alcohol, demographic and socio-economic indicators, questions about use of health services and prescribed medicines and measurements of height, weight and blood pressure. The HSE in 2011 provided a representative sample of the population at both national and regional level. A total of 8,610 adults and 2,007 children were interviewed. A household response rate of 66% was achieved. 5,715 adults and 1,257 children had a nurse visit. [Note: Older people are represented in this data source (approximately) according to their proportion in the population. In 2011, over one third of the total UK population (and approximately 40 per cent of the adult population 16+) was aged 50 and over.]


The data includes a variety of demographic variables, including age and sex. The sample is stratified.

Multi-stage stratified and clustered sample. Sample design varies between years For the general population sample in 2011, 8,992 addresses were randomly selected in 562 postcode sectors, issued over twelve months from January to December 2011. Where an address was found to have multiple dwelling units, a random selection was made and a single dwelling unit was included. Where there were multiple households at a dwelling unit, again one was selected at random. All adults and children in selected households were eligible for inclusion in the survey. Where there were three or more children aged 0-15 in a household, two of the children were selected at random to limit the respondent burden for parents. A nurse visit was arranged for all participants who consented.

England Government Office Regions (NUTS1)

All ages

Representative of the (private) household population in England The data include weighting variables

The Health Survey for England (HSE) series is designed to monitor trends in the nation's health. The study provides regular information that cannot be obtained from other sources on a range of aspects concerning the public's health and many of the factors that affect health. The aims of the series are: - to provide annual data about the nation's health - to estimate the proportion of people in England with specified health conditions - to estimate the prevalence of certain risk factors associated with these conditions - to examine differences between population subgroups in their likelihood of having specific conditions or risk factors - to assess the frequency with which particular combinations of risk factors are found, and which groups these combinations most commonly occur - to monitor progress towards selected health targets - since 1995, to measure the height of children at different ages, replacing the National Study of Health and Growth, and to monitor the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children

For more information on publications, see the UK Data Service website. • Bajekal, M. “Health Survey for England 2000: care homes and their residents.” The Stationery Office, London, 2002. • Bennett, N., et al. “Health Survey for England 1993.” HMSO, London, 1995. • Boreham, R., Stafford, M., & Taylor R. “Health Survey for England 2000: social capital and health.” The Stationery Office, London, 2002. • Breeze, E., et al. “Health Survey for England 1992.” HMSO, London, 1994. • Colhoun, H., & Prescott-Clarke, P. (eds.). “Health Survey for England 1994, 2v." HMSO, London, 1996. ISBN 011 321 8958. • Erens, B., & Primatesta, P. (eds.). “Health Survey for England: cardiovascular disease '98, volumes I and II.” The Stationery Office, London, 1999. ISBN 0113223072. • Erens, B., Primatesta, P., & Prior, G. (eds.). “Health Survey for England: the health of minority ethnic groups 1999, volumes I and II.” The Stationery Office, London, 2000. ISBN 0113224486. • Falaschetti, E., Malbut, K., & Primatesta P. “Health Survey for England 2000: the general health of older people and their use of health services.” The Stationery Office, London,2002. • Hirani, V., & Malbut, K. “Health Survey for England 2000: disability among older people.” The Stationery Office, London, 2002. • Prescott-Clarke, P., & Primatesta, P. (eds.). “Health Survey for England 1995, 2v.” HMSO, London, 1997. ISBN 011 3220219. • Prescott-Clarke, P., & Primatesta, P. (eds.). “Health Survey for England 1996, 2v.” HMSO, London, 1998. ISBN 011322091X. • Prescott-Clarke, P., & Primatesta, P. (eds.). “Health Survey for England: the health of young people '95-97 2 vols.” The Stationary Office, London, 1998. ISBN 0113222661. • Prior, G., et al. “Health Survey for England 2000: methodology and documentation.” The Stationery Office, London, 2002. • Tait, C., & Fuller, E. “Health Survey for England 2000: psychosocial well-being among older people.” The Stationery Office, London, 2002.


There is an ongoing cross-governmental programme of work in the UK which aims to develop and improve standardised inputs and outputs for use in official statistics. This is known as harmonisation, and is led by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). While this work primarily affects government-run surveys, the results have an impact on most national UK data sources. Furthermore, harmonisation has important benefits for all researchers using these surveys, and not just government statisticians. For more information, see:
Additionally, this survey uses a number of harmonised health measures (e.g. the Warwick Edinburgh mental wellbeing scale and the EuroQol scale (EQ5D) that measures five different dimensions of health (mobility, self-care, usual activities, pain/discomfort, anxiety/depression), each with an identified level of severity).

Data are anonymised

Data quality

In addition to unit non-response, the data include item non-response and may be subject to other errors that are typical of surveys and censuses. This data source is used to prepare official statistics, which are required to meet quality standards. These standards are monitored by the UK Statistics Authority, according to the statutory authority provided by the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007.
For more information on data quality, see the survey documentation on the UK Data Service website.

There are no major breaks for this data source.

In general, the consistency of this data source is very good. For more information on data quality, see the survey documentation on the UK Data Service website.


The survey focuses on different health issues each year, although a number of core questions are included every year. Topics are revisited at appropriate intervals in order to monitor change: - in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1998, 2003, 2006 and 2011, the survey focused on cardiovascular disease and associated risk factors - in 1995 and 1996, the major focus of the survey was atopic disease (including asthma and eczema), accidents and disability - in 1997 the survey report focused on the health of young people aged 2-24 years, and combined data (in report format only) from the 1995-1997 surveys - in 1999 and again in 2004, the focus was on the health of minority ethnic groups. The boost sample was designed solely to yield additional interviews with members of the most populous minority ethnic groups: Black Caribbean, Black African (covered in 2004 only), Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese and Irish - in 2000 and 2005, the survey focused on the health of older people; the HSE 2000 included a sample of care home residents, whereas HSE 2005 included a boost sample of people aged 65 and over resident in private households - the 2001 survey included for the first time questions on fruit and vegetable consumption - the 2002 survey focused on children, young people and maternal health, and included a boost sample of young people aged 0 to 24 years and mothers of infants aged under one year - the 2007 survey focused on knowledge and attitudes towards key aspects of lifestyle, and monitoring any impact from the 2007 smokefree legislation - the 2008 survey primary focus was physical activity and fitness - the 2009 survey focused on long-term health conditions and self-assessed general health. In addition it looked at the effectiveness and use of personal care plans - the 2010 survey focused on respiratory disease and lung function, with additional questions on contraception and sexual health, wellbeing, kidney disease and dental health

  • The information about this dataset was compiled by the author:
  • Mike Murphy
  • (see Partners)