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Disability: key data sources

The Scottish Surveys Core Questions provide subjective data on disability by pooling data from a set of common questions included in the Scottish Health Survey, Scottish Household Survey and Scottish Crime and Justice Survey from 2012 onwards. These surveys ask respondents: do you have a physical or mental health condition or illness lasting or expected to last 12 months or more? A follow-up question then asks whether any reported health conditions / illnesses reduce people's ability to carry-out day-to-day activities. This latter question is used to identify people with limiting long-term conditions or illnesses. The Scottish Health Survey estimate of limiting long-term conditions is higher than that found in the other two surveys that form the SSCQ (see here  for more details). It is likely that people will provide more detailed information about their health in a survey with a specific focus on that topic. For this reason, the Scottish Health Survey is the recommended source for national estimates of limiting long-term conditions. However, the SSCQ's much larger sample size means that it is recommended for sub-national estimates (e.g. by health board or local authority, or key equality characteristics).

These surveys also ask respondents to self-assess their current health status as either 'very good' 'good', 'fair', 'bad' or 'very bad'. The latter is presented within this section of the website as a further proxy measure for disability.

NOMIS is a service provided by the Office for National Statistics which gives free access to the most detailed and up-to-date UK labour market statistics from official sources. This includes data on benefits claimants at national and various sub-national geographies in Scotland.

The Scottish Learning Disability Observatory has been established to provide better information about the health and health care of people with learning disabilities and people with autism in Scotland. Its population prevalence estimates are based primarily on data from the 2011 Census and, for children, the Scottish Pupil Census. Additional analyses are being conducted to explore healthcare outcomes for people with learning disabilities, using NHS patient records. The Scottish Commission for Learning Disability publish statistics  about adults with learning disabilities who are known to local authorities in Scotland. These estimates have been granted National Statistics designation.

A 2003 study by Sharon Davidson of NHS Health Scotland (funded by The Scottish Executive's Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics project) investigated all potential indicators of disability in Scotland. The final report (click here to download (400KB)) includes detailed appendices on all sources of disability-related data, including administrative data, voluntary sector data, and survey data.

The Scottish Executive's Social Focus on Disability publication (2004) collated material from a range of survey and data sources including the Scottish Household Survey, the Labour Force Survey and the 2001 Census to produce a single document summarising statistics on disability in Scotland. The topics covered include: disabled population; households and housing; qualifications and education; labour market; health and care; and income and benefits.

Another useful summary document in terms of disability-related statistics is Disability in Scotland 2004: Key Facts and Figures (100KB), published in 2005 by the then Disability Rights Commission (DRC) (whose functions are now the responsibility of the Equality and Human Rights Commission). The Scottish Council Foundation, in collaboration with the Disability Rights Commission, published a report in 2006 Disability in Scotland 2005-2020: A State of the Nation Report (1.38MB), which used existing evidence to describe the current position of disabled people in Scotland and how their position might be improved in the future.

In 2006 the Scottish Executive published High Level Summary of Equality statistics: Extracted trends by Disability (452KB), bringing together statistics from a range of sources and covering topics such as population, education, transport and tourism.

Some disability related data are included within ScotPHO's Community Health Profiles (e.g. adults unable to work due to illness/disability, disability living allowance, attendance allowance claimants, long-term limiting illness, self-assessed health classified as 'not good').

The report Dimensions of Diversity: Population Differences and Health Improvement Opportunities published by ScotPHO in 2010 also has useful information and data on disability in Scotland.

The Variations in the Experiences of Inpatients in Scotland report (2011) contains information on how the experience of patients with a disability differs from that of other patients.

The Scottish Health Survey topic report on equality groups published in 2012 provides breakdowns of key health behaviours and outcomes by disability.

The Scottish Government's (2013) Equality Outcomes: Disability Evidence Review report covers a wide range of information about disabled people's outcomes and experiences.

Page last updated: 15 September 2017

© Scottish Public Health Observatory 2014