Health Survey for England (HSE)


Main uses

The advantage of HSE is that it has a wide variety of health data about each person.  Its disadvantage is that it covers England only.  It possible uses are therefore twofold:

  • When only English results are required.
  • When there is not UK-wide or Great Britain-wide survey (such as the General Lifestyle Survey) with the required data (e.g. obesity).


In summary:

  • Available from: UK data archive.
  • Registration required: yes.
  • First survey available: 1991.
  • Frequency: annual.
  • Updated: July.
  • Scope: England only.
  • Format: SPSS, STATA or TAB.
  • Files: two files per year, one at the individual level and the other at the household level.
  • Documentation: comprehensive.
  • Weighted or unweighted: weighted from 2003 onwards but unweighted for earlier years.
  • Household income data: yes, equivalised.

In addition to the dataset itself, the Department of Health publishes an annual report giving many statistical analyses from the dataset.

General issues

Which software to use

As the annual dataset is around 13,000 records for individuals, it can be exported into Excel.

When to use the individual and household datasets

For most purposes, the individual dataset is the one to use as the household dataset has very few fields and none of these have any obvious analytic use.  Oddly, there are also more household records than individual records.

Relevant graphs on this website

UK graphs

Because the dataset is for England only, the graphs below are also for England only.

Indicator Graphs Table Comments
Mental health all individual Use ONS mid-year population estimates as necessary to translate proportions into absolute numbers
Obesity all individual Of the various body mass index (BMI) fields, use the one called ‘bmival’ (the ‘bmicut’ fields are for children only), round down to the nearest integer, and then use the value ’30’ as the threshold at which someone is classified as obese.

Use ONS mid-year population estimates as necessary to translate proportions into absolute numbers

For those analyses which are by household income, allocate each record to a household income quintile, calculating the quintile thresholds required to achieve this.