Adult General Health

Continuing from childhood, study members have been asked about accidents and hospital admissions. Visits to their GP have been recorded at some data collections, as well as days off work due to sickness in the previous year.

Early adult questionnaires did not ask a 'general' health question (with the exception of 1972 (26 years)). Instead, multiple indicators of health over the life course and especially information on recurrent illness were collected. In 1977 (31 years) study members were asked specifically about rheumatism and back pain and also headaches.

In 1982, 1989, 1999 and 2014-16 a more detailed list of ailments were asked about. In 1989 and 1999 study members were asked to recall their first and most recent experiences of the ailments. In 2014-16 study members were asked to recall all experiences of the ailments since 2006.

For the 2006-10 postal questionnaire study members were asked to complete the 36-Item Short Form Survey (SF-36: Ware and Sherbourne, 1992). This survey includes health concepts of: physical functioning, bodily pain, role limitations due to physical health problems, role limitations due to personal or emotional problems, emotional well-being, social functioning, energy/fatigue, and general health perceptions. It also includes a single item that provides an indication of perceived change in health.

Study members were also asked whether either of their parents had suffered from these ailmentsĀ (at the 1982 and 1989 surveys).


Ailments asked in more than one wave 1982 to 2016

1982 1989 1999 2006-10 2014-16
Bronchitis x x x
Sciatica, lumbago, recurring back pain x x x
Arthritis or rheumatism x x x
Trouble with liver x x
Persistent skin trouble x x x x
Asthma x x x x
Hay fever x x x
Allergy x x
Recurring stomach trouble x x x x
Gall bladder trouble x x x
Hernia x x x
Headaches or migraine x x x
High blood pressure x x x x x
Heart trouble x x x x x
Trouble with varicose veins x x
Cancer x x x x
Nervous or emotional trouble / depression x x x
Diabetes x x x x x
Persistent trouble with gums or mouth x x x x
Trouble sleeping x
Stroke x x x x
Epilepsy x x x x x
Kidney or bladder infections x x x x
Dizziness or unsteadiness x x
Piles or haemorrhoids x
Anaemia or other blood disorder x x x
Persistent constipation x x
Cataracts x x x x



Obtaining the adult general health standard variables

  • You can obtain a list of the standard topic variables to use in an NSHD data sharing request by selecting the link at the end of this page.
  • The XML version of the link can be sent to the LHA as part of a data sharing request.
  • Simply use your browser's Save As facility to save the list of variables to a file on your computer.
  • You can then email the XML version to us in support of your application, or when you fill in the data access application form and it asks which variables you need, mention the 'adult general health standard basket' along with any others.


Please Note that the adult general health standard basket only contains very few summary variables, with no detail on the participants' health in middle age. Adult general health is an extremely broad subject, with data on many different conditions and symptoms, so you are strongly advised to investigate this subject in more detail on Skylark.

HTML version of the standard variables to view

Download the XML for the adult general health standard basket