Social networks, activities and support


Structural and functional elements of social relationships have been captured across adult life. Study members have been asked how often they meet with friends and relatives at ages 36 (1982), 43 (1989), 53 (1999), 60-64 (2006-10) and 68-70 (2014-16).

In 1989 and 1999, the size of their social network was also captured and marital status has been recorded at every adult sweep.

Memberships of various clubs and organisations have been recorded in 1972, 1982, 1989, 1999, 2006-10 and 2014-16.

Functional elements of adult social relationships, often referred to as social supports, have been captured by items on emotional support received from the closest person (1982, 1989).

 In addition, there is some information on childhood social engagement including membership of organisations outside school (ages 8, 11, 15-21), hobbies enjoyed with parents and other children (age 13), religious membership (age 14 and 20) and teacher-assessed contribution to the community life of the school.

Relationships with parents were also captured. Length and reason for separation from the mother up to age six was recorded, and in 1989 study members were asked to recall the quality of the relationship with their father and mother on the Parental Bonding Instrument


Caregiving and receiving

In 2014-16, the study members were asked about their roles of caregivers and receivers. They were given a number of ADL’s and IADL’s and, if they mentioned they had difficulties, they were asked who helped them.

Study members were also asked if there was anyone living with them or not living with them who was sick, frail, or has a disability whom they look after or give special help to.


Obtaining the standard social networks, activities and support 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 'social networks, activities and support standard basket' along with any others.


HTML version of the standard variables to view

Download the XML for the social networks, activities and support standard basket