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.