Skip to main content
National Statistics
Publication, Part of

Health Survey for England - 2011, Health, social care and lifestyles

Official statistics, National statistics, Survey
Publication Date:
Geographic Coverage:
Geographical Granularity:
Country, Regions, Strategic Health Authorities
Date Range:
01 Jan 2011 to 31 Dec 2011


The Health Survey for England (HSE) is part of a programme of surveys commissioned by the Health and Social Care Information Centre. It has been carried out since 1994 by the Joint Health Surveys Unit of NatCen Social Research and the Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCL (University College London). 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 series of Health Surveys for England was designed to monitor trends in the nation's health, to estimate the proportion of people in England who have specified health conditions, and to estimate the prevalence of certain risk factors and combinations of risk factors associated with these conditions. The survey is also used to monitor progress towards selected health targets.

Each survey in the series includes core questions and measurements (such as blood pressure, anthropometric measurements and analysis of blood and saliva samples), as well as modules of questions on specific issues that vary from year to year. In some years, the core sample has also been augmented by an additional boosted sample from a specific population subgroup, such as minority ethnic groups, older people or children; there was no boost in 2011.

This is the twenty first annual Health Survey for England. All surveys have covered the adult population aged 16 and over living in private households in England. Since 1995, the surveys have included children who live in households selected for the survey; children aged 2-15 were included from 1995, and infants under two years old were added in 2001. Those living in institutions were outside the scope of the survey. This should be borne in mind when considering survey findings, since the institutional population is likely to be older and less healthy than those living in private households.

The HSE in 2011 provided a representative sample of the population at both national and regional level. For the general population sample, 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.

A total of 8,610 adults and 2,007 children were interviewed. A household response rate of 66per cent was achieved. 5,715 adults and 1,257 children had a nurse visit. It should be noted that, for the first time for several years, there was no child boost sample in 2011. Thus the scope for analyses of some data for children may be limited by relatively small sample sizes.

The report authors would like to acknowledge with thanks the contribution of the National Obesity Observatory to Chapter 10 on adult obesity.


Social Care

· Among people aged 65 and over, a third of women (36 per cent) and just over a quarter of men (27 per cent) reported a need for help in the last month with at least one Activity of Daily Living. Help was needed most often with getting up and down stairs (20 per cent and 31 per cent respectively).

· The highest levels of need for help with Activities of Daily Living and/or Instrumental Activities of Daily Living were among people aged 85 and over. For example, 48 per cent of men and 70 per cent of women in this age group needed help with shopping for food, with 40 per cent and 55 per cent respectively receiving help with this activity.


Chronic pain

· More women than men reported chronic pain. Overall, 31 per cent of men and 37 per cent of women reported this. The prevalence of chronic pain increased with age, from 14 per cent of men and 18 per cent of women aged 16-34 to 53 per cent of men and 59 per cent of women aged 75 and over.

· There was a disparity between the poorest and richest households (the bottom and top fifths based on equivalised household income): 40 per cent of men and 44 per cent of women in the poorest households reported chronic pain, compared to 24 per cent of men and 30 per cent of women in the richest.


Cardiovascular disease

· 13.9 per cent of men and 13.4 per cent of women reported being diagnosed with a cardiovascular condition. Prevalence increased with age: from three per cent of men and five per cent of women aged 16 to 24, to 54 per cent of men and 31 per cent of women aged 85 and over.



· In 2011, 7.0 per cent of men and 4.9 per cent of women aged 16 and over reported that they had doctor-diagnosed diabetes. The prevalence of doctor-diagnosed diabetes increased with age: rising from fewer than 3 per cent of men and women aged under 45, up to 26 per cent of men aged 85 and over, and to 12 per cent of women aged 85 and over.

· Some people had raised glycated haemoglobin without a diagnosis of diabetes: 2.3 per cent of men and 2.2 per cent of women aged 16 and over had this undiagnosed diabetes. Among men, this was highest in the 55-64 age group (4.8 per cent) while among women, undiagnosed diabetes was highest among those aged 75 and over (8.2 per cent).


Drinking habits

· Both men and women from higher income households were more likely than those from lower income households to drink on five or more days in the last week. 24 per cent of men and 17 per cent of women in the highest income quintile drank on five or more days in the last week, while for those in the lowest income quintile the proportions were 12 per cent and 6 per cent respectively.


Drinking Diary

· The diary recorded a higher proportion than the interview of those drinking at more than recommended levels during the week of measurement. The interview recorded 39 per cent of men drinking more than four units on at least one day in the last week, compared with 46 per cent in the diary, while 28 per cent of women drank more than three units on one day in the week before the interview, compared with 35 per cent during the diary week.


Related Links

Last edited: 14 September 2020 8:57 am