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Impairment harmonised principle

Policy details

Metadata item Details
Publication date:22 May 2020
Author:Caroline Smith
Approver:William Perks
Who this is for:Users and producers of statistics
Type:Harmonisation guidance and principles
Contact:

gsshelp@statistics.gov.uk

What is harmonisation?

Harmonisation is the process of making statistics and data more comparable, consistent and coherent. Harmonised principles set out how to collect and report statistics to ensure comparability across different data collections in the Government Statistical Service (GSS). Harmonisation produces more useful statistics that give users a greater level of understanding.

 

What do we mean by impairment?

This harmonised principle is about impairment, not medical condition.

This means it looks at the functions that a person either cannot perform or has difficulty performing because of their health condition.

For example, glaucoma is a medical condition but being unable to see or being partially sighted is an impairment.

Using this harmonised principle means outcomes for disabled people can be looked at by impairment type.

 

Questions and response options (inputs)

The harmonised question(s) on this topic are designed to collect basic information, for use in the majority of surveys. They are not designed to replace questions used in specialist surveys where more detailed analysis is required.

There are two versions of the harmonised question on this topic:

  1. Standard version: this should be used when a respondent has said yes, they have an existing medical condition, using the long-lasting health conditions and illness question.
  2. Alternative version: this can be asked to all people, where there is no routing question.

Optional introduction to the question

This optional introduction can be used for clarification. It can be read out or put in explanatory text:

The purpose of this question is to establish the type of impairment(s) you experience currently as a result of your health condition or illness.

In answering this question, you should consider whether you are affected in any of these areas while receiving any treatment or medication or using devices to help you such as a hearing aid for example.

Standard version

Do any of these conditions or illnesses affect you in any of the following areas?

Show card of possible responses and code all the answers that apply:

CodeImpairment
1Vision (for example blindness or partial sight)
2Hearing (for example deafness or partial hearing)
3Mobility (for example walking short distances or climbing stairs)
4Dexterity (for example lifting and carrying objects, using a keyboard)
5Learning or understanding or concentrating
6Memory
7Mental health
8Stamina or breathing or fatigue
9Socially or behaviourally (for example associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) which includes Asperger’s, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD))
10Other (please specify)
Spontaneous only:
11None of the above
12Refusal

Note: spontaneous responses should not appear on the show card, but refusals or a response that none of the categories apply should be coded.

Alternative version

Do you have any health conditions or illnesses which affect you in any of the following areas?

Show card of possible responses and code all the answers that apply:

CodeImpairment
1Vision (for example blindness or partial sight)
2Hearing (for example deafness or partial hearing)
3Mobility (for example walking short distances or climbing stairs)
4Dexterity (for example lifting and carrying objects, using a keyboard)
5Learning or understanding or concentrating
6Memory
7Mental health
8Stamina or breathing or fatigue
9Socially or behaviourally (for example associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) which includes Asperger’s, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD))
10Other (please specify)
11None of the above
Spontaneous only:
12Refusal

Note: spontaneous responses should not appear on the show card, but refusals or a response that none of the categories apply should be coded.

 

Using this principle

Guidance for data collection

This question can be asked by proxy. For respondents aged 16 or over it can be answered directly or by proxy. For those under 16 it is only to be answered by proxy.

Guidance can be given on the category response or responses where clarification is requested.

Respondents can select as many responses that apply to them.

Interviewers should steer respondents to using the pre-defined categories wherever possible. They should avoid collecting precise conditions, for example: “Obstructive pulmonary disease” would code to the category “Stamina or breathing or fatigue”.

Types of data collection this principle is suitable for

This question designed is designed for Computer Assisted Personal interviewing (CAPI) and Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI).

This question has not been tested for paper-based or online self-completion.

 

Comparability

Outputs that come from using this harmonised principle are comparable with other surveys that also use this principle. We would not recommend comparing estimates of impairment from this output with those that do not use this harmonised principle.

 

Examples of when this principle has been used

Surveys that used this principle

  • Family Resources Survey
  • Crime Survey for England and Wales
  • English Housing Survey
  • Health Survey for England

Use in the census

Impairment is not collected in the England, Wales or Northern Ireland Census.

Scotland collects impairment information on their census, but they do not use this harmonised principle. To see the question Scotland use, see page 6, question 18 of the Scotland 2019 Test Census Questionnaire.

 

Development of this principle

This is one of the harmonised principles on disability.

These principles are designed to be consistent with the World Health Organisation’s definition of disability and the disablement process. This is called the International Classification of Functioning (ICF).

They are also consistent with the definitions and guidelines in UK and EU legislation. This includes the 2010 Equality Act in Great Britain, the Disability Discrimination Act in Northern Ireland and the EU-SILC regulation.

The impairment question was developed alongside those on long-lasting health condition or illness and activity restriction.

Health Statistics Quarterly documents the development process:

  • Health Statistics Quarterly – No. 42, Summer 2009: An update to measuring chronic illness, impairment and disability in national data sources
  • Health Statistics Quarterly – No. 51, Autumn 2011: Update on the harmonisation of disability data collection in UK surveys (Part 1 and Part 2)

 

Further information

Alternative questions on impairment

The Washington Group (WG) set are alternative set of questions that can be used to measure impairment. The WG was set up by the UN Statistical Commission. It developed measures that addressed the lack of internationally comparable measures of disability. The short set of question asks if a person is able to do certain things, like hear, even if using a hearing aid. It then uses the responses to determine if a person would be classified as disabled.

The output from these questions is not comparable to this harmonised principle. The UK does not use the WG set of questions as they are not consistent with the 2010 Equality Act.

However, the UK does endorse their use as a tool in countries that do no already have valid measures of disability in place.

 

Contact us

We are always interested in hearing from users so we can develop our work. If you use or produce statistics based on this topic, get in touch: gsshelp@statistics.gov.uk.

 

Review frequency:

This page will be reviewed annually.

Updates

Date Changes
1 May 2019

The Harmonisation team reviewed this principle with stakeholders in February 2019 and concluded that no updates are needed.

22 May 2020

This page was updated to reflect updated wording related to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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