Natsal is an important study that helps those working in health care to build up a picture of life in Britain and how it’s changing. It allows them to make better decisions about public health policy, practice and research.
Natsal has taken place every 10 years since 1990 and is one of the largest studies of its kind in the world. So far, 45,000 people have taken part in Natsal.
To collect data that are representative of the British general population, Natsal uses the Postcode Address File as its sampling framework. This is where postcodes, then households, are selected at random. If your address has been selected to take part, you will receive a letter. An interviewer from NatCen Social Research will then visit your address and invite one person aged 16-59 to take part. We are also inviting some members of the NatCen Opinion Panel to complete the study. If you are a member of the NatCen Opinion Panel you will receive an invitation from NatCen.
If you are invited to take part it’s easy to say no, but we really hope you don't as it's important that as many people take part as possible - regardless of their experience - as this means our data are more reliable. We know your time is precious, but our work really does make a difference and the results from previous Natsal surveys have been used by doctors, policy makers and scientists for over 25 years. For example the first Natsal survey, in 1990, helped us to understand the spread of HIV in Britain and how best to stop it spreading further. More recently, the findings have helped plan health services like the National Chlamydia Screening Programme and the HPV vaccination programme. The results are also used to inform health education programmes, such sex and relationship education in schools, so they are evidence-based.
You can read the Natsal privacy notice here.
To collect data that are representative of the British general population, Natsal uses the Postcode Address File as its sampling framework. This is where postcodes, then households, are selected at random. An interviewer from NatCen Social Research then calls at the selected household and invites one person in the eligible age-range to take part. For Natsal-4, that’s people aged between 16-59.
Whilst you can't just sign up to take part in Natsal, there are other ways to engage with the study. For example, as part of the development work for Natsal-4 we held an open consultation so people from all walks of life could have their say on the questions that the Natsal-4 survey should ask. You can read the report here.
Follow us on Twitter @NatsalStudy for more information about engaging with the study.
“I found it very easy to answer the questions on the laptop, and I find it difficult to use a computer usually”
“Very pleasant and enjoyable”
“Very friendly engaging interviewer”
“Easy experience, detailed but relevant questions”
“Interviewer was lovely”
“The interviewer was very nice, very laid back and matter of fact”
"I can see that some of the questions might cause some discomfort to some people, but I think it's a very important topic."
“No pressure to answer anything not comfortable with”
“It was nice to be able to answer on the computer”
“It’s so important for people to research this. Survey was really good, interviewer lovely. I thought it was quite fun actually”
“I would recommend anyone to take part in the study. It was interesting”
“I liked the opportunity to have my say and it is important to help”
“The interview was conducted very professionally”