Headlines: November 3rd, 1998

The Department of Health has announced that is about to sponsor a three year survey in which around 12,000 people in Britain will be interviewed about their sexual behaviour and lifestyle.The survey will cost 1.4 million pounds but the Department says it will provide accurate information on which to base future healthcare messages.

Dr Jeremy Metters, Deputy Chief Medical Officer said: “It is vital that we have up to date information available to underpin our decisions on policies that affect sexual health. That is why we are supporting this important piece of research.

“The results from the 1990 national survey, which were extremely valuable in planning health promotion programmes, are now out of date. The new survey will help us understand the pattern of sexual behaviour that puts particular groups at increased risk. This information will enable us to ensure that we develop more effective health promotion methods. Together with other research, it will inform our planning of health services dealing with sexually transmitted diseases, including those for people living with HIV and AIDS.”

The first national survey of sexual attitudes and lifestyles (NATSAL) took place in 1990/1991 and was published in 1994. The second survey will be conducted by the same NATSAL team from University College London Medical School, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Social and Community Planning Research.