The General Household Survey (GHS) is a multi-purpose survey dating from 1971, providing information on aspects of housing, employment, education, health and social services, transport, population and social security. It is a continuous survey based on an achieved sample of about 9,000 households.
The GHS, Elderly follow-up was a pilot study to examine various methodological aspects of the feasibility of carrying out a cohort study, or a series of cohort studies, of the elderly. Comparing successive rounds of the GHS and the Health Survey for England throws some light on health states, but is not nearly as powerful as an approach which looks at changes in health state at the individual level. This follow up survey of GHS respondents is a large scale pilot which collects usable data. A working group on Health Expectancy was set up in 1995 to provide expert help to The Department of Health on the appropriate measures to use in the estimation of health expectancy (the expected number of years of disability-free life). The Working Group advised that health expectancy could not be properly monitored without longitudinal data, because it requires data on transition rates between health states.
It was recommended that the feasibility of collecting the data be investigated by following up and attempting to re-interview respondents aged 65 years and over interviewed in the 1994 General Household Survey (held at the UK Data Archive under SN:3538). The Department of Health commissioned ONS to re-interview approximately 1000 elderly people identified from The National Health Service Central Register, around two and a half years after the GHS interview.
The key data required were those which would enable transition rates between health states to be estimated, but a further aim was to collect information on related issues such as the use of long term care services. The main methodological focus of the pilot survey was to assess the data collection problems in following elderly people and re-interviewing them about their health.
Topics covered in the 1994 General Household Survey: Follow-up Survey of the Health of People aged 65 and over include:
- Household information;
- Health state;
- EuroQol (standardized non disease-specific instrument for describing and valuing health-related quality of life);
- Sight and hearing;
- Mental state;
- Mobility and self-care;
- Getting out;
- Aids and alterations;
- Domestic tasks;
- Informal care;
- Use of services;
- Smoking and alcohol use;
- Moving home;
- Standard Measures.
The datasets in this series are available to download. Links to individual datasets can be found at piece level.