You're viewing our new website - find out more

Publication - Statistics Publication

Scottish Health Survey 2015 volume one: main report

Published: 20 Sep 2016
Part of:
Health and social care

Findings and trends of the Scottish Health Survey 2015, providing information on the health of people living in Scotland.

References and notes

1 Mathers C, Stevens G and Mascarenhas M. Global health risks: mortality and burden of disease attributable to selected major risks. Geneva: World Health Organization. 2009.

2 See:

3 Grant I, Springbett A, and Graham L. Alcohol attributable mortality and morbidity: alcohol population attributable fractions for Scotland. 2009. ISD Scotland/Scottish Public Health Observatory.

4 See:

5 See:

6 Beeston C, Robinson M, Craig N and Graham L. Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland's Alcohol Strategy. Setting the Scene: Theory of change and baseline picture. Edinburgh: NHS Health Scotland. 2011.

7 Beeston C, McAdams R, Craig N, Gordon R, Graham L, MacPherson M, McAuley A, McCartney G, Robinson M, Shipton D, and Van Heelsum A. Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland's Alcohol Strategy. Final Annual Report. Edinburgh: NHS Health Scotland. 2016.

8 Hope A, Curran J, Bell G & Platts A. Unrecognised and under-reported: the impact of alcohol on people other than the drinker in Scotland. Glasgow, Scotland: Alcohol Focus Scotland. 2014.

9 Carnie J and Broderick R. Prisoner Survey 2015. Edinburgh: Scottish Prison Service. 2015.

10 Scottish Emergency Department Alcohol Audit (SEDAA) Group. Understanding Alcohol Misuse in Scotland: Harmful Drinking: One: the size of the problem. NHS Quality Improvement Scotland, Edinburgh. 2006.

11 Scottish Government. Framework for Action: Changing Scotland's relationship with alcohol. Final business and regulatory impact assessment for minimum price per unit of alcohol as contained in Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Bill. Edinburgh: Scottish Government. 2012.

12 York Health Economics Consortium. The Societal Cost of Alcohol Misuse in Scotland for 2007. Scottish Government; 2010.

13 Sharp C, Marcinkiewicz A and Rutherford L. Attitudes towards alcohol in Scotland: results from the 2014 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey. Edinburgh: NHS Health Scotland. 2014.

14 Further information on Scotland Performs can be found at :

15 Changing Scotland's Relationship with Alcohol: A Framework for Action. See:

16 Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012. See:

17 Meier P, Meng Y, Hill-McManus D and Brennan A. Model-Based Appraisal Of Alcohol Minimum Pricing And Off-Licensed Trade Discount Bans In Scotland Using The Sheffield Alcohol Policy Model (V 2):- Second Update Based On Newly Available Data. University of Sheffield; 2012 See:!/file/scotlandjan.pdf

18 Angus C, Holmes J, Pryce R, Meier P and Brennan A. Model-based appraisal of the comparative impact of Minimum Unit Pricing and taxation policies in Scotland: An adaptation of the Sheffield Alcohol Policy model version 3. University of Sheffield; 2016 See:!/file/Scotland_report_2016.pdf

19 See:

20 Bellis MA, Hughes K, Jones L, Morloe M, Nichols J, McCoy E, Webster J, Sumnall H. Holidays, celebrations, and commiserations: measuring drinking during feasting and fasting to improve national and individual estimates of alcohol consumption. Available from:

21 Maclennan B, Kypri K, Lamgley J, Room R. Non-response bias in a community survey of drinking, alcohol-related experiences and public opinion on alcohol policy. Drug Alcohol Depend 2012; 126 (1-2):189-94

22 Caetano R. Non-response in alcohol and drug surveys: a research topic in need of further attention. Addiction 96:1541-5. 2001.

23 Torvik FA, Rognmo K, Tambs K. Alcohol use and mental distress as predictors of non-response in a general population health survey: the HUNT study. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2012 May; 47(5): 805-816. Published online 2011 May 5. doi: 10.1007/s00127-011-0387-3

24 Gorman E, Leyland AH, McCartney G, White IR, Katikireddi SV, Rutherford L, Graham L, Gray L. Assessing the representativeness of population-sampled health surveys through linkage to administrative data on alcohol-related outcomes. American Journal of Epidemiology 2014 Nov 1;180(9):941-8.

25 MESAS alcohol sales and price update May 2016 See:

26 See:

27 Reid S. Chapter 3: Alcohol consumption. In Bromley C, Bradshaw P and Given L. [eds.] The 2008 Scottish Health Survey - Volume 1: Main Report. Edinburgh: Scottish Government. 2009.

28 For participants aged 16 and 17, details on alcohol consumption were collected as part of a special smoking and drinking self-completion questionnaire. Some 18 and 19 year olds also completed the self-completion if the interviewer felt it was appropriate. For all other adult participants, the information was collected as part of the face-to-face interview. The method of estimating consumption follows that originally developed for use in the General Household Survey and is also used in the Health Survey for England. For six types of alcoholic drink (normal strength beer/lager/cider/shandy, strong beer/lager/cider, spirits/liqueurs, fortified wines, wine, and alcoholic soft drinks), participants were asked about how often they had drunk each one in the past twelve months, and how much they had usually drunk on any one day. The amount given to the latter question was converted into units of alcohol, with a unit equal to half a pint of normal strength beer/lager/cider/alcoholic soft drink, a single measure of spirits, one glass of wine, or one small glass of fortified wine. A half pint of strong beer/lager/cider was equal to 1.5 units. The number of units was then multiplied by the frequency to give an estimate of weekly consumption of each type of drink. The frequency multipliers were:

Drinking frequency Multiplying factor
Almost every day 7.0
5 or 6 times a week 5.5
3 or 4 times a week 3.5
Once or twice a week 1.5
Once or twice a month 0.375
One every couple months 0.115
Once or twice a year 0.029

The separate consumption figures for each type of drink were rounded to two decimal places and then added together to give an overall weekly consumption figure.

29 Participants were first asked if they had drunk alcohol in the past seven days. If they had, they were asked on how many days and, if on more than one, whether they had drunk the same amount on each day or more on one day than others. If they had drunk more on one day than others, they were asked how much they drank on that day. If they had drunk the same on several days, they were asked how much they drank on the most recent of those days. If they had drunk on only one day, they were asked how much they had drunk on that day.

30 These are commonly used definitions across the UK - see, for example, the MESAS final annual report:

31 Babor, T.F., Higgins-Biddle, J.C., Saunders, J.B. and Monteiro, M.G. AUDIT - The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test - Guidelines for Use in Primary Care, Second Edition. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2001.

32 AUDIT questionnaire

Questions 0 1 2 3 4
1. How often do you have a drink containing alcohol? Never Monthly or less 2-4 times a month 2-3 times a week 4 or more times a week
2. How many drinks containing alcohol do you have on a typical day when you are drinking? 1 or 2 3 or 4 5 or 6 7 to 9 10 or more
3. How often do you have six or more drinks on one occasion? Never Less than monthly Monthly Weekly Daily or almost daily
4. How often during the last year have you found that you were not able to stop drinking once you had started? Never Less than monthly Monthly Weekly Daily or almost daily
5. How often during the last year have you failed to do what was normally expected of you because of drinking? Never Less than monthly Monthly Weekly Daily or almost daily
6. How often during the last year have you needed a first drink in the morning to get yourself going after a heavy drinking session? Never Less than monthly Monthly Weekly Daily or almost daily
7. How often during the last year have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking? Never Less than monthly Monthly Weekly Daily or almost daily
8. How often during the last year have you been unable to remember what happened the night before because of your drinking? Never Less than monthly Monthly Weekly Daily or almost daily
9. Have you or someone else been injured because of your drinking? No
Yes, but not in the last year
Yes, during the last year
10. Has a relative, friend, doctor, or other health care worker been concerned about your drinking last year? No
Yes, but not in the last year
Yes, during the last year

33 Gray L, Leyland AH. Volume 1, Chapter 5: Alcohol Consumption. In: Campbell-Jack D, Hinchliffe S, Bromley C, eds. The Scottish Health Survey 2014. Edinburgh: Scottish Government, 2015.


Email: Julie Landsberg,