Natsal Panel: 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.

Is the HPV vaccination programme working?

How does our health affect our relationships?

How many people are looking for new partners online?

Do people get enough advice about contraception?

What does the study cover?

The Natsal study has questions about relationships, experiences and attitudes towards topics relating to sex. 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. We also ask some other details such as age, gender and employment. If you agree, at the end of the questionnaire the interviewer will ask if you are willing to provide a sample of urine or vaginal swabs.

The interviewer will explain what the sample will be used for, answer any questions you may have and ask for permission to provide a sample. 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 records. We will ask for separate permission to do this in the study and give you more information about it then.

Who is carrying out the research?

This study is being carried out by The National Centre for 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 at any point in time by contacting NatCen 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 depersonalised datasets.

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

How will the study take place?

Taking part involves being asked questions about your health and relationships. An interviewer will conduct the study by telephone at a time convenient to you. The interviewer will ask you to  complete the more personal questions yourself by directing you to the questions online. The online survey is very easy to use and there are practice questions for you before you start. If you have any questions, please speak to your interviewer.

How long will the study take?

This varies from person to person. For most people, this will take around an hour. The interviewer will discuss this with you and arrange an appointment to carry out the interviewer over the phone at a time that suits you.

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 £20 gift card. An additional £10 gift card will be given to everyone who provides a sample of urine or vaginal swabs.

Is the survey 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 survey findings will be anonymised and nothing we publish will identify you. For the most personal questions, we will ask you to directly answer online so the interviewer will not know your answers. You can read the study’s privacy notice here

Occasionally, people might tell us things that raise concerns about their safety or the safety of others. If this happens, we may need to investigate this further as part of our ethical duty.

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. 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 the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) by writing to 35 Northampton Square, London, EC1V 0AX calling on freephone 0800 652 4569 or emailing