Measuring Health

The health of individuals varies according to socio-economic characteristics reflecting, at least in part, different exposures to factors that influence health.

Since populations comprise groups of individuals, and these groups tend not to be random, e.g. groups defined by geography or on the basis of occupation, there are differences between the health of different populations. As an example, the health of the Scottish population is poorer than that of the UK population as a whole. Understanding such health inequalities plays an important part in improving the health of the population.

Core funded by the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health Directorates, the principal focus of the programme is on the health of the Scottish population. The programme seeks to improve the methods used to measure population health and its determinants. 

More specifically, the aims of the programme are:

  • to improve our understanding of the health of the Scottish population, and of the inequalities in health between particular subgroups
  • to consider the importance of different contexts, e.g. school, workplace, area of residence, at different stages in life on subsequent adult health
  • to ensure that the statistical methods needed to address complex public health research problems are developed and disseminated
  • to evaluate the effects of complex interventions, such as Sure Start Local Programmes, an area-based intervention for young children and their families.

The programme has a number of specific projects that capitalise on our expertise with the analysis of routinely collected data, such as death records, Census records and hospital discharge records or cancer registrations, and existing survey data. We also benefit from our location in Scotland which offers access to linked hospital and mortality records covering over 30 years.


The Measuring Health team

MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit logo 800 wide