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Results from the Scottish Health Survey 2013 (funded by the Scottish Government) have been published in the ninth report in the series, now conducted annually. Dr Linsay Gray and Prof Alastair Leyland from the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit authored chapters on adult smoking, adult alcohol consumption and general health, mental wellbeing and caring.

Smoking, alcohol, general health and wellbeing in Scotland – the Scottish Health Survey 2013

posted on: Dec 11, 2014

Results from the Scottish Health Survey 2013 (funded by the Scottish Government) have been published in the ninth report in the series, now conducted annually. Dr Linsay Gray and Prof Alastair Leyland from the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit authored chapters on adult smoking, adult alcohol consumption and general health, mental wellbeing and caring.

The main findings are:

Smoking

  • The Scottish Health Survey found a drop from 25% in 2012 to 21% in 2013 in the percentage of adults reporting that they smoked cigarettes. However, once an objective measure of smoking (salivary cotinine) was adjusted for, current cigarette smoking prevalence in 2012/2013 was 27%, the same as in 2008-2011.

  • 23% of men and 20% of women reported that they smoked cigarettes, with highest prevalence in the 25 to 54 age group.

  • The average number of cigarettes smoked has declined since 1995: smokers consumed an average 13.0 cigarettes per day (13.5 for men and 12.4 for women), with those aged 65 to 74 smoking the most.

  • Children's reported exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke in the home in 2013 was 11%, not significantly different to the figure in 2012; there was lower reported exposure among younger children.

  • 14% of non-smoking adults reported being exposed to second-hand smoke in their own or in someone else's home in 2013, while 17% reported being exposed to smoke in any public place; figures were highest for the 16-24 age group. Such exposure has declined over time but not since 2012.

Alcohol consumption

  • The percentage of adults drinking in excess government guidelines has fallen significantly over time. While there has been little change in the percentage of adults adhering to the weekly and/or drinking guidelines (44% in 2013), there has been an increase in the proportion of adults describing themselves as an ex-drinker (5% in 2003 and 9% in 2013).

  • Men consumed an average of 13.7 units and women 6.8 units of alcohol per week, representing declines over time. 22% of men and 16% of women drank at hazardous or harmful levels (exceeding 21 units for men and 14 units for women per week).

  • Men consumed alcohol on an average of 2.8 days and women 2.4 days per week, which are declines from previous years.

  • Men drank an average of 5.2 units and women 2.8 units on their heaviest drinking day in the previous week. While these represent a decline since 2003, there was no change from 2012. The percentage of men exceeding the recommended limit of 3-4 units in any one day was 40%; the percentage for women was 31% – declines from previous years.

  • Forty-five percent of men and 35% of women drank outwith the government guidelines for weekly and/or daily drinking, a decrease from 53% and 42% respectively in 2003.

  • 12% of men reported that they did not drink alcohol and 20% of women did not drink - a significant increase on previous years.

  • Older drinkers consumed less alcohol but with greater frequency than younger drinkers.

  • While adults with the highest household incomes were most likely to drink at hazardous or harmful levels, average weekly unit consumption among hazardous or harmful drinkers was highest among those with the lowest incomes.

  • 25% of men and 12% of women had an AUDIT score indicative of drinking at hazardous or harmful levels or possible alcohol dependence.

 General Health, Mental Wellbeing and Caring 

  • 74% of adults assessed their health in general as 'good' or 'very good' and 8% assessed their heath as 'bad' or 'very bad'. 95% of children had general health that was described as either 'good' or 'very good' and for 1% it was described as 'bad' or 'very bad'. General health assessments have not changed significantly since 2008.

  • Mean wellbeing scores have not changed significantly since the measure was introduced in 2008.

  • In 2012/2013, 9% of adults had two or more symptoms (indicating moderate to high severity) of depression; prevalence of two or more symptoms of anxiety was also 9%. There have been significant increases in the percentages of adults displaying mild depression and anxiety.

  • In 2012/2013, 6% of women and 3% of men reported having attempted suicide at some point in their life. The percentage of adults reporting that they had deliberately self-harmed without suicidal intent at some point was 5% in 2012/2013.

  • 14% of working adults reported that their job was 'very' or 'extremely stressful'.

  • 19% of women and 13% of men aged 16 and over were regular providers of unpaid care to a family member, friend or someone else. 4% of children aged 4-15 reported providing unpaid care in 2013.

  • In 2012/2013, 30% of adult carers provided up to 4 hours of care per week, 36% provided 5-19 hours, 28% provide 20 hours or more; 15% cared for 50 hours or more. The duration of unpaid care provided increased with carers' age.

 A summary of all the main findings can be found here.

The Scottish Health Survey is a designated National Statistics product.  This means that the statistics are deemed to be compliant with the Code of Practice on Official Statistics, produced according to sound methods and managed impartially and objectively in the public interest.