Information by Design
Lifestyle Survey Toolkit

Health Inequalities

If your lifestyle survey aims to address issues around health inequalities in your area, you will need to include questions or methods which will allow you to ‘estimate’ the socio-economic status of respondents. This could come through:
  • using questions to measure social class
  • using proxy measures for social class. For example, gathering socio-economic data through questions on car ownership, housing tenure and newspaper readership
  • gathering postcode of respondents. This is usually available from the sampling frame – by using ID numbers, we know who the questionnaire is from and so can place them into a postcode. Using postcode to LSOA look-up tables allows us then to access census or other low level data.
Click here to see sample questions on measuring social class or proxies for social class.

Lifestyle surveys provide an opportunity to collect data to measure the levels of inequality in local areas.  In developing questions for this purpose it is important to both:

  • Understand the background issues on measuring inequality and be aware of some of the indicators that have been developed, many of which are now used widely in measuring inequality (e.g. the indicators used in the Index of Multiple Deprivation).
  • Be aware of the picture at national level and the indicators being used to monitor changes in the level of inequality to 2010.  These are available in the Department of Health document Tackling Health Inequalities - A programme for action.  See Annex C at http://www.dh.gov.uk/assetRoot/04/01/93/62/04019362.pdf

Lifestyle Surveys can also provide valuable input into Health Equity Audits.  These are processes which are used to identify how fairly services or other resources are distributed in relation to the health needs of different groups and areas, and the priority action necessary to provide services relative to need.  For further details see the Guide for the NHS and a useful SEPHO presentation on HEA's.