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  • Results of Scottish Health Telephone Survey

    Created: 27/01/2021

    Scotland’s Chief Statistician has released the results of the Scottish Health Survey – Telephone Survey, providing information on the health, and factors relating to health, of adults aged 16 and over in Scotland in August and September 2020.  Questions on general health, cardiovascular conditions, caring, mental health and wellbeing, social capital and loneliness, alcohol, smoking, diet, obesity, food insecurity, physical activity, and dental health were included in the survey.

    This is the first time the Scottish Health Survey interviews have been conducted by telephone. The results are published as Experimental Statistics and are not directly comparable with the survey results for previous years.

    Mental health:

    Over a fifth (22%) of adults recorded a GHQ-12 score of four or more (indicative of a possible psychiatric disorder).  Rates were highest for those aged 16-44 (24%) and 45-64 (25%) compared to 13% - 15% among those aged 65 and over. Among those who had been advised to shield, around a third (32%) had a score of four or more.

    Just over one in ten (11%) adults reported two or more symptoms of depression and 13% recorded two or more symptoms of anxiety. 


    During the fieldwork period, 5% of adults felt that they were lonely ‘often’ or ‘all of the time’ and a further 15% that they felt lonely ‘some of the time’.  Rates were higher for those in the shielding group, with 11% reporting that they felt lonely ‘often’ or ‘all of the time’ and a further 16% some of the time.


    Around one in five (19%) adults reported that they provided regular unpaid care, with women more likely to do so than men (23% and 14% respectively). 

    Reported changes since before the first lockdown in March 2020:

    • Almost two-fifths of adults (39%) self-reported an increase in weight since before the March 2020 lockdown and just under a fifth (18%) said their weight had decreased over this period.
    • Women were more likely than men to state that their weight had increased (43% compared with 34% of men).
    • While 24% of adults reported that the number of days on which they drank alcohol per week had increased between the start of the March 2020 lockdown and the fieldwork period, 17% reported it had decreased.
    • Younger adults were more likely to report an increase in the number of days on which they drank alcohol (proportions decreased from 27% among those aged 16-44 to 13% among those aged 75 and over).
    • Just over one in ten adults (12%) reported that the amount of alcohol they consumed on a typical day had increased between the start of the March 2020 lockdown and the fieldwork period while just under two in ten (18%) reported a decrease.
    • Just over a third (36%) of adult smokers reported that there had been an increase in the amount they smoked since before the March 2020 lockdown compared to 8% reporting a decrease. Over half (55%) reported that the amount they smoked had stayed the same. These figures do not include those who may have quit smoking over the period.

    The figures released were produced in accordance with professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

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