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GSS > Policy and guidance hub > Long-lasting health conditions and illness

Long-lasting health conditions and illness

The following guidance sets out how to collect and report statistics about long-lasting health conditions and illness to ensure statistics about this topic are as comparable as possible across the Government Statistical Service (GSS).

Questions

This section provides guidance on the survey questions to use when collecting information about activity restriction.

To ask respondents aged 16 and over or by proxy for those not fit to respond in person.

 

Do you have any physical or mental health conditions or illnesses lasting or expected to last for 12 months or more?

  1. Yes
  2. No.

Spontaneous only:

  1. Don’t know
  2. Refusal

 

Interviewer note:

This question asks you about any health conditions, illnesses or impairments you may have.

Interviewers should provide guidance regarding the coverage of conditions and illnesses if asked for clarification: for example, a respondent may state their mobility is impaired but is unsure whether this classifies as a long-lasting condition or illness. Interviewers should guide the respondent in line with the examples given above.

Spontaneous responses can be recorded but should not be presented as options to respondents.

If respondents are too ill to respond on their own behalf, if present, proxy responses from a family member or friend can be recorded. For those not able to speak English, translators should be used to assist with the data collection.

This question is designed to replace the following question variants used in national government social surveys.

 

Presentation of outputs

This section provides guidance for outputting the survey questions to use when collecting information aboulong-lasting health conditions and illness.

The following table shows the output categories for long-lasting illness. Coding of these categories should comply with the specific coding conventions applied in the specific survey source. ONS is not prescribing a code but an example is given in the table.

 

Output categories: Long lasting physical or mental health conditions or Illnesses

Suggested variable name: HealIll

Do you have any physical or mental health conditions or illnesses lasting or expected to last 12 months or more? Example Code
Nominal scale
Has a long-lasting health condition or illness Numeric 1
Does not have a long-lasting health condition or illnesses Numeric 2
Don’t Know -8
Refusal -9
Implications for classifications
EU-SILC: Long-standing health problem or Illness = 1
EU-SILC: No Long-standing Illness = 2
EU-SILC: Not severely hampered in daily activities = 2
EU-SILC: Not hampered in daily activities to some extent = 2
Equality Act: Not core currently disabled = 2

 

Do you have any long-standing illness, disability or infirmity? By ‘long-standing’ I mean anything that has troubled you over a period of at least 12 months or that is likely to affect you over a period of at least 12 months

  1. Yes
  2. No

 

Do you have any health problems or disabilities that you expect will last for more than a year?

1 Yes

2 No

 

Do you have any long-standing illness, disability or infirmity by long-standing I mean anything that has troubled you over a period of time or is likely to affect you over a period of time?

  1. Yes
  2. No

 

Do you have any long-standing physical or mental impairment, illness or disability? By long-standing I mean anything that has affected you over a period of at least 12 months or that is likely to affect you over a period of at least 12 months?

  1. Yes
  2. No

One question providing a measure of any self-reported health conditions or illnesses lasting or expected to last a year or more for use in social surveys and suitable for data collection using Computer Assisted Personal interviewing (CAPI) and Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI). This principle can be used with paper-based and online self -completion forms too.

This principle focuses exclusively on the capture of physical or mental health conditions or illnesses long-lasting in nature (that is, lasting or expected to last for 12 months or more). The focus here is on a long-lasting condition which the person is likely to have for the remainder of their lives, and is likely to require some level of supervision and treatment over a long period of time such as diabetes. The reason for including future judgement is that for most conditions, while symptoms can be controlled with medication and\or other treatment, they are not curable and therefore relevant to the individual for the foreseeable future.

An important difference in this new harmonised principle (questions) compared with previous question versions is the exclusion of the term disability. The conceptual framework of disability applied in the construction of this suite of questions separates out the components leading to a simplified classification of disability, which is defined as activity restriction and participation restriction. If disability is included in this question, then we would assume restricted participation and activities before this information has been elicited and assume health conditions and illnesses and disabilities are interchangeable terms.

The existing questions collected in the General Lifestyle Survey (GLF), Family Resources Survey (FRS) and other surveys mix the concepts of illness, disability and infirmity. However, the importance of the social model approach to classifying disability outlined in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit document, the Equality Act legislation and the clear distinction drawn in EU-SILC guidelines for collecting information on chronic illness distinct from disability strongly opposes this mixing of concepts in this question. Furthermore, the findings from the extensive consultation across government, academia and the voluntary sector, and the lessons learnt from cognitive and field testing undertaken as part of the development of the Life Opportunity Survey also strongly supported the disentanglement of the concepts of health conditions and illnesses and those of impairment and disability.

There is no intention to capture temporary conditions with this question, however serious they might be; the possible impact on the individual’s daily activities is also irrelevant. As a guide the following are included:

  • conditions which flare up intermittently, but the exacerbation has a shorter duration than 12 months;
  • problems which may not be perceived as serious or are well-controlled and managed by treatment and lifestyle adjustments and do not perceptibly affect day-to-day activities, but are nevertheless long-lasting;

The question is designed to include sensory deficits, non-temporary mobility problems including dyspraxia and cerebral palsy, developmental conditions such as autism and Asperger’s syndrome, conditions associated with learning impairment (disability) such as Down’s syndrome or dyslexia as well as common conditions and illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, heart and other circulatory conditions, respiratory conditions, digestive conditions, anxiety and depression etc. are relevant if they have lasted or are expected to last 12 months or more. Seasonal conditions such as hay fever which recur and have lasted or are expected to recur in the future should also be included.

Documents

File

Long Lasting Illness and Disability - June 17 (PDF, 0.34MB)

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