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The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles

Overview

The British National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, or Natsal, are among the largest and most detailed studies of sexual behaviour in the world.

Three Natsal surveys have taken place: Natsal-1 in 1990-1991, Natsal-2 in 1999-2001 and Natsal-3 in 2010-2012.

The project is being managed by a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from University College London (UCL), the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and NatCen Social Research (NatCen).

Additional input for specific aspects of the project is provided by Public Health England on the work package looking at STI measures and the University of Manchester on the work package looking at hormone measures. The first two Natsal surveys provided major sources of data informing sexual and reproductive health policy in Britain. They have contributed to:

  • the National Sexual Health & HIV Strategy in England; the Scottish Sexual Health Strategy (2005-) and the Welsh Sexual Health Strategy
  • the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy (2000-2010)
  • the National Chlamydia Screening Programme (NCSP)
  • the national human papillomavirus (HPV) immunisation programme in 2008/9
  • the statutory provision of Personal, Social, Health & Economic (PHSE) education in schools in 2009
  • sexual health campaigns, such as "Sex: worth talking about" in 2010
  • National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines on, for example, long acting contraception (2006)

The third survey covers an extended age range (up to 74 compared to 59 and 44 in previous surveys) allowing exploration of the interplay between aging and sexual behaviour. Through combining data from all three surveys it will be possible to conduct both period and cohort analyses, as the surveys include people born in the 1930s-1990s. A period spanning much of the last century.

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