Study information leaflet for participants

What is the study about?

This is a study on health and relationships in Britain and is one of the largest studies of its kind in the world. The study is sometimes also called Natsal - the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles.

It has taken place every 10 years since 1990 and the findings have been widely used by doctors, health service providers, policy makers and scientists to help plan NHS services and health education programmes.

The last survey was in 2010, and we now need updated information to understand how attitudes and lifestyles have changed. 

What does the online survey cover?

The online Natsal survey asks about relationships, experiences relating to sex, and sexual and reproductive health services. Some of these are sensitive in nature, and you don’t have to answer questions you don’t want to. You can take part no matter what your background or experience is. The survey also asks for some other details such as age, gender and employment.

At the end, the survey asks if you are willing to provide a sample of urine or vaginal swabs. An explanation is given of what the sample will be used for, and you are completely free to choose not to give a sample.

We would also like to link your survey answers to your health, education and/or other administrative data. Separate permission to do this is asked for in the survey and more information about it is given then.

What does taking part involve?

The online questionnaire asks about your health and relationships and takes around 30 minutes to complete. Your unique login details are provided in the accompanying letter.

Who is carrying out the research?

This study is being carried out by NatCen Social Research (NatCen), University College London (UCL), the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and the University of Glasgow.

Why have you chosen me?

It is important that our surveys reflect life in Britain today, so we have invited people from the NatCen Opinion Panel, a representative sample of people from across Britain, to take part.  

The NatCen Panel includes thousands of people from across the UK who share their experiences and opinions on a variety of important topics. You have been invited to take part in Natsal as you previously took part in the British Social Attitudes survey and agreed to be contacted about research in the future, providing your contact details.

For further information about the NatCen Opinion Panel visit:

Do I have to take part?

Taking part is voluntary and if you do decide to take part, you can choose to answer as many or as few questions as you like. You can withdraw your consent to participate in the Natsal study at any point in time by contacting NatCen Social Research using the details overleaf. We will remove data about you that is personally identifiable (e.g. contains information such as your name, address), but we will not remove data from de-personalised datasets.

If you would like to leave the panel, please get in touch so we can update our records.

What will I get out of doing the study?

We hope that you will enjoy taking part in the study, and as a thank you for taking part we will offer a £10 gift card that can be used in a wide range of high-street and online shops. An additional £10 gift card will be given to everyone who provides a sample of urine or vaginal swabs.

Is the study confidential?

Yes. Any information given will be treated in confidence and we will handle your data in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The study findings will be anonymised and nothing we publish will identify you. You can read the study’s privacy notice here

Who has reviewed the study?

The study has been reviewed by an independent group of people called a Research Ethics Committee, to protect your safety, rights, wellbeing and dignity. This study has been given ethical approval by the East Midlands-Leicester South Research Ethics Committee (Reference no no.20/EM/0025).

What if I have any questions?

We hope this leaflet answers the questions you may have, and that it shows the importance of the study. You can contact NatCen Social Research by writing to 35 Northampton square, London, EC1V 0AX; calling on Freephone 0800 652 4569 or emailing

What people have said about Natsal

“Natsal is crucial in shaping sexual health services to meet the needs of the British population”
The Lancet Medical Journal

“I would recommend anyone to take part in the study. It was interesting.”
Study participant

“Natsal has been invaluable in helping understand the drivers of the HIV epidemic; in providing national context and in the evaluation of policies and interventions.”
Terrence Higgins Trust

“I liked the opportunity to have my say and it is important to help.”
Study participant