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Information on the type and number of medications taken regularly has been obtained from reports made at five home visits at age 36, 43, 53, 60-64 and 68-70, and from the responses to postal questionnaires at 31 and 60-64 years. Respondents were usually asked if they 'regularly take any medicines, pills or tablets (or have regular injections)?' and asked to complete questions on the reason, duration, name and dosage of any medications taken. The information given was converted into BNF-categorised codes and then onto classes of drug.

The 2006-10 data collection was slightly different, in that study members were asked two sets of medication questions. The postal questionnaire (PQ) contained the usual phrasing about regular taking of medications, whereas the home visit (HV) asked for details of medications taken in the past 24 hours. When the overall derived measures were created, the primary method used was to combine both postal and home visit data, with priority given to the home visit, unless missing. The nurse undertaking the visit was presented with the medications by the study member, so the accuracy of reporting could be more assured. However, alternative derivations of PQ or HV alone, or with HV priority, are also available.

The entire NSHD medication data were thoroughly reviewed in 2017 and an ultimate set of derived measures were created, listing drug use at the various timepoints for a number of 'classes' of medical condition. Please view the documentation for the classes of condition covered and the medications relating to these classes.
However, due to the sensitive and possibly disclosive nature of medication data, particularly for rarer diseases, only summary variables are available. Particularly rare classes of drug may have been removed completely.

Obtaining the standard medication 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 'medication standard basket' along with any others.

As mentioned above, the medication data are complex and potentially sensitive. The standard basket only contains the summary 'number of medications being taken at this timepoint' measures. For full details of the available medication variables, search for library 'Medication6369' on Skylark.

HTML version of the standard variables to view

Download the XML for the medication standard basket