National Survey for Wales: terms and definitions
This report provides information on the terms and definitions used by the National Survey including those on material deprivation, qualification levels and age standardisation.
In this page
The National Survey for Wales monthly and quarterly survey is a large-scale, random sample telephone survey covering people across Wales conducted between May 2020 and March 2021. It replaced the planned face-to-face 2020‑21 National Survey as a response to the coronavirus situation and reached around 1,000 people a month. For more details on methodology see the quality report. Information on sample sizes can be found in the fieldwork report.
The headline results for the monthly and quarterly survey are available. Detailed charts and tables of results are available in our interactive results viewer.
Area deprivation: Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation
The Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation (WIMD) is used as the official measure of area deprivation in Wales. Deprivation is a wider concept than poverty. Deprivation refers to wider problems caused by a lack of resources and opportunities. The WIMD is constructed from eight different types of deprivation. These are:
- access to services
- community safety
- physical environment
Wales is divided into, 1,909 Lower-Layer Super Output Areas (LSOA) each having about 1,600 people. Deprivation ranks have been worked out for each of these areas: the most deprived LSOA is ranked 1, and the least deprived 1,909. In releases, we have grouped the people living in the 20% of LSOAs that are most deprived based on WIMD score and compared them against the 20% of the LSOAs that are least deprived.
Respondents were classified into the following three groups according to what they said they were doing in the previous 7 days.
- In any paid employment or self-employment (or away temporarily).
- On a government sponsored training scheme.
- Doing unpaid work for a business that you or a relative owns.
- Waiting to take up paid work already obtained.
- Furloughed from work due to coronavirus.
- Unemployed and looking for work.
- Intending to look for work but prevented by temporary sickness or injury (28 days or less).
- Full-time student (including on holiday).
- Unable to work because of long-term sickness or disability.
- Looking after home or family.
- Doing something else.
Where ethnicity is discussed within this report different categories have been grouped together.
White British: people self-identifying as white Welsh, white English, white Scottish, white Northern Irish, white British.
White other: White Irish, white Gypsy, white Traveller, other white background.
Other ethnicity: all other ethnicities (including black African, black Caribbean, black British, black Welsh, Asian, Asian British, Mixed ethnic groups).
Qualifications Respondents’ highest qualifications have been grouped according to the National Qualification Framework (NQF) levels, where level 1 is the lowest level of qualifications and level 8 is doctoral degree or equivalent. For the National Survey, respondents have been grouped into 5 groups, those with no qualifications are in the lowest category and respondents with qualifications at levels 4 to 8 have been grouped together in the highest qualification category. To provide more meaningful descriptions of the qualifications, these short descriptions have been used in releases.
|National Qualification Framework levels||Description used in the releases|
|NQF levels 4 to 8||Higher education (Level 4+)|
|NQF level 3||'A' level and equivalent (Level 3)|
|NQF level 2||GCSE grades A to C and equivalent (Level 2)|
|Below NQF level 2||GCSE below grade C (below Level 2)|
|No qualifications||No qualifications|
The National Survey includes questions about whether internet users have recently performed certain activities online. These activities are grouped into five digital skills.
|Digital skill category||Online activity|
|Handling information and content||Using a search engine|
Sent a message via email or instant messagingPosted on social media
Bought goods or services onlineSet up an online account
Found information onlineUsed online help services
|Being safe and legal online||
Managed privacy settingsUpdated software to keep it secure
Respondents are considered ‘digitally excluded’ if they do not personally use the internet.
A new national indicator was set in 2021 which will measure the status of digital inclusion. The definition for this indicator will be informed by the result of a research project on a minimum digital living standard commissioned by Welsh Government and undertaken by the University of Liverpool.
Material deprivation is a measure which is designed to capture the consequences of long-term poverty on households, rather than short-term financial strain.
Non-pensioner adults were asked whether they had things like ‘a holiday away from home for at least a week a year’, ‘enough money to keep their home in a decent state of decoration’, or could ‘make regular savings of £10 a month or more’. The questions for adults focussed on whether they could afford these items. These items are really for their ‘household’ as opposed to them personally which is why they were previously called ‘household material deprivation’.
Pensioners were asked slightly different questions such as whether their ‘home was kept adequately warm’, whether they had ‘access to a car or taxi, when needed’ or whether they had their hair done or cut regularly’. These also asked whether they could afford them, but also focussed on not being able to have these items for other reasons, such as poor health, or no one to help them etc. these questions were less based on the household and more about the individual.
Those who did not have these items were given a score, such that if they didn’t have any item on the list, they would have a score of 100, and if they had all items, they had a score of 0. Non-pensioners with a score of 25 or more were classed as deprived and pensioners with a score of 20 or more were classed as deprived.
In releases the non-pensioner and pensioner measures of deprivation are combined to provide an ‘adult’ deprivation variable. The terms ‘adult’ and ‘household’ deprivation may be used interchangeably depending on context. See the annex for more details about how material deprivation is calculated.
Various measures of loneliness can be used for data analysis purposes but the National Survey uses the De Jong Gierveld This is calculated using De Jong Gierveld loneliness scale - see terms and definitions 6-point loneliness scale. For this scale, respondents were shown a series of 6 statements and asked to indicate, the extent to which each statement applied to the way they felt. There were 3 statements about ‘emotional loneliness (EL)’ and 3 about ‘social loneliness (SL)’.
- I experience a general sense of emptiness (EL)
- I miss having people around me (EL)
- I often feel rejected (EL)
- There are plenty of people I can rely on when I have problems (SL)
- There are many people I can trust completely (SL)
- There are enough people I feel close to (SL)
The scale uses three response categories (Yes, More or less, No) where the neutral and positive answers are scored as '1' on the negatively worded questions (in this instance, questions 1 to 3). On the positively worded items (questions 4 to 6), the neutral and negative answers are scored as '1'. This means that an answer of ‘more or less’ is given the same score as ‘yes’ or ‘no’, depending on the question.
The scores for each individual question are added together to provide an overall loneliness measure. This gives a possible range of scores from 0 to 6, where 0 is least lonely and 6 is most lonely. For reporting purposes we have considered people who have a score of 4 to 6 as being lonely
Sense of community
Respondents were asked to respond to what extent they agreed or disagreed with the following statements.
- I belong to my local area.
- This local area is a place where people from different backgrounds get on well together.
- People in my local area treat each other with respect and consideration.
Responses were combined, with those agreeing to all three statements deemed as having a sense of community.
Safety in the local area
The National Survey includes questions that ask how safe or unsafe people would feel when if they were in certain situations in their local area.
- Walking alone in their area after dark.
- At home after dark.
- Travelling by public transport after dark.
- Travelling by car after dark.
National indicator 25 is a measure of the proportion of people who say they feel safe in all four of these situations. However, every year these questions are asked, around a quarter of respondents say ‘Don’t know’ in answer to whether they would feel safe on public transport. As a result, the methodology used to derive the indicator excludes this group of respondents from the sample. Any change in methodology will be discussed in future outputs as well as any change in results or change over time.
Where sexual orientation is discussed within this report, different categories have been grouped together.
Heterosexual or straight: people self-identifying as heterosexual or straight.
Another response: all other responses (including gay or lesbian, bisexual, other, don’t know, and prefer not to say).
Respondents were asked to reply to a series of questions concerning their feelings on aspects of their lives, scoring their responses on scales of 0 to 10, where 0 indicates ‘not at all’ and 10 represents ‘completely’. The following four questions were asked.
- Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?
- Overall, to what extent do you feel that the things you do in your life are worthwhile?
- Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?
- Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?
For life satisfaction, worthwhileness of life, and happiness scales, scores 0 to 4 were classed as low, 5 to 6 as medium, 7 to 8 as high, and scores 9 to 10 as very high. For anxiety the scale was grouped so that scores 0 to 1 were classed as very low, scores 2 to 3 as low, 4 to 5 as medium and scores 6 to 10 as high levels of anxiety.
Urban and rural
'Urban' includes settlements with a population of 10,000 or more and small towns and their fringes, where the wider area is less sparsely populated. 'Rural' includes all other areas
The survey asks adults (aged 16 years and over) how they would say their general health is from the following options: ‘Very Good’, ‘Good’, ‘Fair’, ‘Bad’ or ‘Very Bad’. For some results, responses are re-categorised into the following three groups: ‘Very good or Good’, ‘Fair’, ‘Bad or Very bad’.
The results from the survey are based on respondents’ own understanding of their health rather than a clinical assessment of their medical condition.
The survey asks adults whether they currently have any physical or mental health conditions or illnesses lasting or expected to last 12 months or more. These are referred to as longstanding illnesses in the results.
Adults reporting a longstanding illness are asked what the health conditions / illnesses are, and this are assigned to one of the illness categories shown in the following table. These are broadly equivalent to chapters in the international classification of diseases (ICD-10).
Adults can record up to six illnesses. (Questions on the type of illness were not asked in 2020-21.)
Respondents reporting a longstanding illness are asked whether it reduces their ability to carry out day-to-day activities. They can answer 'yes, a lot', 'yes, a little', or 'not at all'. Except for in 2020-21, this is asked for each of the longstanding illnesses they mention (see above). These are referred to as limiting longstanding illnesses in the results.
Neoplasms and benign growths
Cancer (neoplasm) including lumps, masses
Endocrine and metabolic diseases
Mental illness / anxiety / depression / nerves
Nervous system complaints
Epilepsy / fits / convulsions
Migraine / Headaches
Another nervous system disorder
Cataracts / Poor sight / Blindness
Other eye complaints
Poor hearing / deafness
Tinnitus / Noises in the ear
Meniere’s disease / Ear complaints causing balance problems
Other ear complaints
Heart and circulatory complaints
Stroke / cerebral haemorrhage / thrombosis
Heart attack / Angina
Hypertension / High blood pressure / other blood pressure problem
Other heart problems
Piles / haemorrhoids
Varicose veins / phlebitis in lower extremities
Other blood vessels / embolic complaints
Respiratory system complaints
Bronchitis / emphysema
Another respiratory illness
Digestive system complaints
Stomach ulcer / ulcer / abdominal hernia / rupture
Complaints of bowel / colon
Complaints of the teeth / mouth / tongue
Other digestive complaints
Genito-urinary system complaints
Urinary tract infection
Other bladder problems / incontinence
Reproductive system disorder
Arthritis / rheumatism / fibrosis
Slipped disc / back / spine / neck problem
Other problem of bones / joints / muscles
Infectious or parasitic disease
Blood and related organs complaints
Disorders of the blood and blood forming organs
Complaint no longer present
Complaint no longer present
The survey asked adults whether they smoked (daily or occasionally), used to smoke (daily or occasionally), or had never smoked.
- ‘Current smokers’ are those who smoked either daily or occasionally.
- ‘Ex-smokers’ are those who used to smoke daily or occasionally.
- ‘Never smoked‘ are those who had never smoked.
- 'Non-smokers’ were those who had never smoked and ex-smokers.
The survey asked adults a set of questions about their alcohol consumption.
As announced in the UK Chief Medical Officers’ Low Risk Drinking Guidelines during 2016, a weekly alcohol guideline was recommended to replace the former daily guidelines. This guideline for both men and women suggests drinking no more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.
Respondents were asked to indicate how often they had consumed each type of alcohol during the past 12 months, and how much they had usually consumed. The table that follows shows alcohol units for the different types of drink included in the questions. The question was modified compared with previous versions to accommodate the move to a telephone survey, and some types of alcohol were combined.
|Type of drink||Measure||Alcohol units|
|Beer or cider||Pints||2|
|Wine (including fortified wine and sparkling wine)||Large glass (250ml)||3|
|Standard glass (175ml)||2|
|Small glass (125ml)||1.5|
|Spirits (including alcopops and liquers)||Measures (single)||1|
Average weekly consumption of each type of drink was calculated by multiplying the units usually consumed on a day when that type of alcohol was drunk by a factor representing the frequency with which it was drunk. The results for each type of drink were added together to give an overall weekly figure.
|Drinking frequency||Multiplying factor|
|Almost every day||7|
|5 or 6 times a week||5.5|
|3 or 4 times a week||3.5|
|Once or twice a week||1.5|
|Once or twice a month||0.375|
|Once every couple of months||0.115|
|Once or twice a year||0.029|
Health-related behaviours can be a complex area to measure and there may be some differences between what people report and what they do (for instance, they may tend to underestimate their alcohol consumption). However, survey data still provides a reliable means of comparing patterns for these behaviours between different groups and over time.
Fruit and vegetable consumption
The survey asked adults questions about a range of food items to determine the overall amounts of fruit, vegetables and pulses consumed the previous day.
For each food item, respondents were asked whether they had eaten it and, if so, how much they had consumed. Guidelines recommend eating at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables each day. The questions and analysis were based on the concept of portions of 80g each and the information collected was converted into standard portions at the analysis stage.
The table that follows shows portion sizes for the different food items included in the questions. The question was modified compared with previous versions to accommodate the move to a telephone survey, and some types of fruit were combined.
|Food item||Portion size|
|Salad||1 small bowlful|
|Vegetables (fresh, raw, tinned, frozen)||3 tablespoons|
|Dishes made mainly from vegetables or pulses||3 tablespoons|
|Very small fruit (eg grapes, berries)||2 handfuls|
|Small or medium fruit (eg apples, plums)||1 medium fruit, 2 small fruits|
|Large or very large fruit (eg grapefruit, melon)||½ large fruit, 1 slice very large fruit|
|Frozen or tinned fruit||3 tablespoons|
|Dried fruit (eg raisins, apricots)||1 handful|
|Dishes made mainly from fruit||3 tablespoons|
|Fruit juice or smoothie||1 small glass|
At the analysis stage, rules for certain foods were applied: respondents could obtain no more than one portion of their daily intake from fruit juice, one portion from pulses, and one portion from dried fruit. These restrictions are in line with guidelines, which emphasise that a variety of fruit and vegetables should be consumed.
Health-related behaviours can be a complex area to measure and there may be some differences between what people report and what they do. However, survey data still provides a reliable means of comparing patterns for these behaviours between different groups and over time.
Physical activity guidelines recommend that adults should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity during the week. Alternatively, comparable benefits can be achieved by 75 minutes of vigorous activity, or an equivalent combination of the two.
The questions asked respondents on what days in the previous week they walked, completed some moderate physical activity and completed some vigorous physical activity for at least 10 minutes at a time and then they were asked how much time, on average, they spent doing these activities each time. The respondents were also asked about their walking pace and the effort involved. Walking was included as a moderate activity for those walking at a ‘fairly brisk’ or ‘fast’ usual pace. For those aged 65 and over, walking at any pace was included if the effort was enough to make them breathe faster, feel warm or sweat. The information was combined to provide an estimate of the equivalent number of moderate minutes of activity undertaken the previous week. Those with the equivalent of 150 minutes or more moderate activity were classed as meeting the guidelines. For reporting purposes, those with the equivalent of less than 30 minutes moderate activity the previous week were classed as inactive.
Health-related behaviours can be a complex area to measure and there may be some differences between what people report and what they do (for instance, they may tend to overestimate their levels of physical activity). However, survey data still provides a reliable means of comparing patterns for these behaviours between different groups and over time.
Body mass index
The survey asked adults to report their height and their weight. In order to define overweight or obesity, a measurement is required which allows for differences in weight due to height. The body mass index (BMI) is calculated as weight (kg) divided by squared height (m²). However, BMI does not distinguish between mass due to body fat and mass due to muscular physique, nor does it take account of the distribution of fat. BMI was calculated for all respondents, excluding pregnant women, with valid height and weight measurements and classified into the following BMI groups.
|Less than 18.5||Underweight|
|18.5 to under 25||Healthy weight|
|25 to under 30||Overweight|
|30 and over||Obese|
|40 and over||Morbidly obese|
Height and weight of respondents are self-reported, and there is evidence to show that some people tend to under-report weight and/or over-report height, resulting in an under-estimation of the prevalence of overweight and obesity.
Number of healthy lifestyle behaviours
The number of heathy lifestyle behaviours followed by each adult is derived by combining responses for the following 5 behaviours.
- Not smoking.
- Not drinking above weekly guidelines.
- Eating 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables the previous day.
- Being physically active at least 150 minutes the previous week.
- Maintaining a healthy weight or body mass index.
Age standardisation has been used in selected analysis in order to enable groups to be compared after adjusting for the effects of any differences in their age distributions. When different sub-groups are compared in respect of a variable on which age has an important influence (such as health), any differences in age distributions between these sub-groups are likely to affect the observed differences in the proportions of interest.
Age standardisation was carried out using the direct standardisation method. The standard population to which the age distribution of sub-groups was adjusted was adapted from the 2013 European Standard Population. Calculations were done using Stata. The age-standardised proportion p' was calculated as follows, where pi is the age specific proportion in age group i and Ni is the standard population size in age group i:
Therefore p'can be viewed as a weighted mean of pi using the weights Ni. Age standardisation was carried out using the age groups: 16 to 24, 25 to 34, 35 to 44, 45 to 54, 55 to 64, 65 to 74, 75 and over.
Annex: how is material deprivation calculated?
The National Survey includes three sets of questions to capture material deprivation for different groups. One set is for pensioners, one set for non-pensioner adults and another set for parents of children. These questions are taken from the Family Resources Survey. Within each of these sets, a core set of questions were asked of the relevant respondents to decide whether they were in material deprivation or not. For respondents found to be ‘borderline’ deprived, a further set of questions was asked to decide whether they should be classified as materially deprived or not. The three sets of questions are listed below. The questions that were only asked of the ‘borderline’ deprived respondents are indented.
Working-age (non-pensioner) adults
These questions focused on whether particular items could be afforded. These items mainly relate to the ‘household’ as opposed to respondents personally. For each item, respondents were asked if they had it, didn’t need it, or would like it but could not afford it.
- Do you and your family/partner have a holiday away from home for at least one week a year, whilst not staying with relatives at their home?
- Do you and your family/partner have enough money to keep your home in a decent state of decoration?
- Do you and your family/partner have household contents insurance?
- Do you and your family/partner make regular savings of £10 a month or more for rainy days or retirement?
- Do you and your family/partner replace any worn out furniture?
- How well you are keeping up with your bills and credit commitments at the moment?
Questions asked in ‘borderline’ cases.
- Do you and your family/partner replace or repair major electrical goods, such as a refrigerator or washing machine, when broken?
- Do you have a small amount of money to spend each week on yourself, not on your family?
- In winter, are you able to keep this accommodation warm enough?
These items are really for their ‘household’ as opposed to them personally which we sometimes refer to it as ‘household material deprivation’.
A slightly different set of questions were used for pensioners. These were less based on the household and more about the individual. The questions asked whether they had particular items, and for items that they didn’t have they were then asked the reasons why: ‘didn’t have the money’, ‘it’s not a priority on their current income’, ‘their health / disability prevents them’, ‘too much trouble / too tiring’, or ‘no one to do this with or help them’ were classed as materially deprived, whereas those who said that ‘it isn’t something they want’ or that ‘it isn’t relevant for them’ were not classed as deprived. The questions used were:
- Would you be able to replace your cooker if it broke down?
- Is your home kept in a good state of repair?
- Do you have a damp-free home?
- Is your home kept adequately warm?
- How well you are keeping up with your bills and credit commitments at the moment?
- Do you have access to a car or taxi, whenever you need it?
- Do you have your hair done or cut regularly?
- Do you see your friends or family at least once a month?
Questions asked in ‘borderline’ cases.
- Do you eat at least one filling meal a day?
- Do you go out socially, either alone or with other people, at least once a month?
- Do you take a holiday away from home for a week or more at least once a year?
- Are your heating, electrics, plumbing and drains kept in good working order?
- Do you have a telephone (landline) to use, whenever you need it?
- Do you have a warm waterproof coat?
- Would you be able to pay an unexpected expense of £200?
For each of the three sets of deprivation question, a prevalence weighted approach is used to calculate a material deprivation score for the relevant respondents, as is used in the Family Resources Survey. This approach allows for the fact that the absence of some items is more uncommon, and so may be considered to represent a greater severity of deprivation than others. Items that are more uncommon are therefore given a higher weighting.
Respondents who did not have the items in a question set were given a score such that if they didn’t have any item in the set they would have a deprivation score of 100, and if they had all items, they had a score of 0.
- Working-age adults (non-pensioners) with a score of 25 or more and pensioners with a score of 20 or more were classed as deprived.
- Deprived pensioners and working-age adults (non-pensioners) were subsequently grouped together to create one classification for all adults.
In releases the working-age adult and pensioner measures of deprivation are combined to provide an ‘adult’ deprivation variable. The terms ‘adult’ and ‘household’ deprivation may be used interchangeably depending on context.
Feedback or further information
If you have would like further information, contact us on 0300 025 6685 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome comments from users of the survey, for example on the content and presentation of our publications.