Scotland's strategy on ethnicity and health research: latest information - May 2013

NHS Health Scotland
Dr Andrew Fraser, Director of Public Health Science
Published Date: 

NHS Health Scotland has just published the second annual report of the Scottish Health and Ethnicity Research Strategy Steering (SHERSS) group, written by my predecessor, Laurence Gruer. It highlights the considerable progress made during 2012 in implementing the recommendations of the 2009 report Health in our Multi-ethnic Scotland

Future Research Priorities. Improvements in routine data recording and analysis, innovative use of data linkage and a range of other studies have enabled new light to be shone on complex issues such as health inequalities, health behaviours and the provision of health and social care in a fast-changing world. These findings can make important contributions towards our shared goal of a fairer and healthier Scotland. The publication during the year of more than 30 reports and papers in international peer reviewed journals also underlines Scotland's emergence as a world leader in the field of ethnicity and health research. A full copy of the report can be downloaded by going to the the link above.

Key points include:

* From 1 January, 2012, the ethnicity of the deceased has been recorded at death registration in Scotland. In the first six months, this information was provided for 96.4% of deaths, showing a high level of public acceptability. An analysis of the first twelve months of data is expected to be published by National Records of Scotland in August.

* Recording of patients' ethnicity on admission to NHS hospitals in Scotland rose from 51.2% in January-March 2011 to 66.8% in January-March 2012; and at first out-patient attendance from 33.4% to 48.1%. Admission data from the four best performing NHS Boards were analysed. They confirmed higher rates of coronary artery disease and acute myocardial infarction among Pakistani and other South Asian men and women compared with White Scots.

* Results of Phase 2 of the Scottish Health and Ethnicity Linkage Study were published in several leading scientific journals. Compared to White Scots, all the larger ethnic minorities had lower rates of cancer; the incidence of acute myocardial infarction was higher for Pakistani men and women and much lower for Chinese men and women; higher rates of first admission for any psychiatric disorder were found for women of mixed or African origin and for a psychotic disorder for women of mixed, Pakistani or African origin. Phase 3 will be completed in 2013 and funding for Phase 4 (2013-16) has been awarded by the Chief Scientist Office.

* The Scottish Government published an analysis of the Scottish Health Surveys 2008-11 by Equality Group, including ethnic identity. This showed statistically significant differences between ethnic groups in Scotland with respect to a range of health-related topics including self-perceived health, smoking, alcohol consumption, healthy eating, physical activity, obesity and diabetes. The small numbers of participants in the ethnic minorities prevented separate analyses for men and women, thereby masking potentially large gender differences for issues such as smoking and alcohol consumption.

* The West of Scotland Health and Ethnicity Network was launched in August and the first SHERSS conference was held in November. At both meetings, high quality research on a wide range of topics was presented, demonstrating the current strength and productivity of this field in Scotland.

I hope you will find the report interesting and useful and would be happy to receive any comments on it from you.

Dr Andrew Fraser
Director of Public Health Science
Chair, Scottish Health and Ethnicity Research Strategy Steering Group'


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