1. Introduction

This is a unique follow-up study looking at the health and wellbeing of children and young people in England in 2023. There have been a number of national studies of children and young people’s health and wellbeing. The last face-to-face one was carried out in 2017 and involved over 9,000 children and young people. In 2020, 2021 and 2022 we conducted a follow-up study and we are now conducting another.

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2. Why is this study important?

The information collected from these studies has been used to:

  • build a picture of the health and wellbeing of children and young people in England
  • provide England's best information source of how children and young people's health and wellbeing is changing over time
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3. Who is carrying out the study?

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is carrying out the study alongside the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), the University of Exeter and the University of Cambridge. We are conducting the study on behalf of NHS England, with funding from the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Education (DfE).

NHS England is a Public Body and leads the NHS in England to deliver high quality services for all. Part of NHS England's role is to collect data about health and health care services and support NHS organisations to work in partnership to deliver better outcomes for our patients and communities. The study was previously commissioned by NHS Digital. NHS Digital merged with NHS England on 1 February 2023.

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4. Why should I take part?

Your answers will provide vital information about the health and wellbeing of children and young people and what has changed since they last took part in the study.

By taking part you will help the NHS, policy-makers and charities make the right decisions about important issues that affect the health and wellbeing of children and young people. The results from the studies have already provided valuable data that have informed researchers about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on children and young people. We are now conducting this follow-up study to further our understanding of the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people in England.

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5. Do I have to take part?

Taking part is entirely 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 also change your mind at any time and withdraw from the study.

We rely on the voluntary co-operation and goodwill of those who are selected to make the study a success.

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6. What is involved?

This follow-up study involves a short questionnaire. You will receive a letter in the post with instructions on how to access the questionnaire online.

You can access the online questionnaire at a website hosted by our partners, NatCen Social Research.

The letter will include your unique code to access the questionnaire.

If you cannot complete the questionnaire online, then an interviewer from NatCen Social Research may call you to see if you would like to take part over the phone.

Before taking part, please read the information leaflet that you received in the post. This contains all the information about the study. If you are a parent or young person aged between 17 and 25 years and did not receive the information leaflet, you can read information for parents, carers and young people  online.

If you are a child aged between 11 and 16 years and did not receive your information leaflet, you can read information for children online.

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7. What will you ask me questions about?

If you are a parent or carer, the questionnaire asks a range of things about your child. These include general health and wellbeing, how they feel about school, and whether they have self-harmed. There are also questions about your current circumstances and life experiences during the past year, as we know that parents and carers play such an important part in a child's life.

Ideally, we would like the adult who took part in 2017, or the adult who took part in the previous follow up study to take part again, although this is not essential.

If your child is aged between 11 and 16 years at the 31 August 2023, after you have finished your questionnaire, we would like your child to also answer an online questionnaire. The questionnaire for children asks about their health and wellbeing, as well as their contact with family and friends, feelings about their body and eating, whether they think their family can afford certain things, and their experiences and thoughts during the past year. We have created an information leaflet that can be given to your child so that they can understand what is involved. If your child is 16 years old at the 31 August 2023, at the start of the survey you will be asked to confirm that you have discussed taking part in the survey with them and that they are happy for you to take part.

If you are a young person aged between 17 and 25 years, the online questionnaire asks about your health and wellbeing, feelings about your body and eating, whether you have self-harmed, as well as your current circumstances and your experiences and thoughts during the past year.

For parents, carers and young people aged between 17 and 25 years, the questionnaire will take around 20 minutes to complete. If you are aged between 11 and 16 years, the questionnaire will take around 10 minutes to complete.

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8. Will I receive a voucher for taking part?

Each household will receive a £10 shopping voucher that can be used in a range of high street and online shops, to say thank you for completing the study. You can request to either receive this through the post or by e-mail.

An additional £10 shopping voucher will be given to each household who completes the second stage of the study.

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9. Why have I been selected?

You have been selected because your household took part in the National Study of Health and Wellbeing: Children and Young People 2017, and possibly the follow-up studies in 2020, 2021 and 2022, and someone in your household said that you would be happy to be re-contacted about any future studies.

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10. Do I have to complete the online questionnaire in one go?

It should only take 20 minutes to complete for parents, carers and young people, and 10 minutes for children, but if you are interrupted and need to exit the questionnaire then you will be able to return to where you left off. The questionnaire will be saved automatically, so you can close your internet browser and return to complete it at a more convenient time. To regain access to the questionnaire, just go to the link that is in your letter and you will return to where you left off.

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11. The online questionnaire timed out

To protect the confidentiality of your answers, the questionnaire is closed down if it is left for a period of time. Your answers will have been saved so you can log back in by clicking on the link we sent you in the email.

If you are completing the questionnaire on the phone and need to leave before it is finished, the interviewer can arrange to phone you back at a more suitable time. The interviewer will pick up where you left off and you will be able to finish the rest of the questionnaire.

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12. I have completed my questionnaire, but you sent me a letter to remind me to do this

Thank you for taking part! It might be that you completed the questionnaire after we had checked our records. We apologise, but we will have safely received your answers.

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13. Is the study confidential?

Yes. Any information given will be treated in confidence and we will handle your data in accordance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and as directed by the Code of Practice for Statistics. The data will be used for statistical and research purposes only and nothing we publish will identify you or your household.

You can read more about the study privacy policy, on NatCen’s website.

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14. Sharing data with our service providers

We sometimes share selected information with our service providers to help us run our surveys. We only share the personal details they need to know. This includes for organisations, such as the one which prints the letters that we will send you, and the one which will handle any email communication between us.

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15. Linking survey answers to other information

We will ask for your consent to link your study answers to data held by the Office for National Statistics, NHS England and the Department for Education. You can cancel this permission at any time. This would let us add information from health and education records to look at how a person’s lifestyle and experiences can have an impact on their future health and education.

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16. Follow-up studies

In the questionnaire, you may be asked whether you are happy to complete the second stage of the study. The second stage of the study includes questions about your child's, or if you are aged between 17 and 25 your, eating behaviours and any concerns you may have. If you have a child aged between 11 and 16 they may also be asked to complete the second stage of the study, if we have your permission. Your responses to the second stage will be added together with your responses to the first questionnaire. Taking part in the second stage is voluntary and you will be free to refuse if you do not want to take part.

In the future, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), NatCen or NHS England may want to contact you about follow-up research on mental health and wellbeing. We will only invite you to take part in follow-up research if you give consent for this. We will not pass on any of your details without your permission. If you are invited to take part in any future studies, you will be free to refuse if you do not want to take part.

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17. How will the results be used?

Data collected will be held by NatCen Social Research, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and NHS England. The answers you give will be put together with the answers collected from thousands of other people across England, analysed anonymously and published in a report that will be freely available.

An anonymised report on the findings from the follow-up study last year was published in November 2022 and you can read about the findings on the NHS England Website.

A link to the report from this follow-up study will be published on NatCen's website when it is available.

The data we collect as part of the study are also useful to other people. A copy of the study dataset, which does not include information that could directly identify you, is made. Your name, date of birth, address and contact details will be removed from the study dataset. Researchers and analysts can apply to use the data for research and statistical purposes and applicants will need to meet strict data governance standards.

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18. Who has reviewed the study?

The study has been looked at by an independent group of people called a Research Ethics Committee. This study has been reviewed and approved by the National Statistician's Data Ethics Advisory Committee.

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19. Who can I contact for further information?

If you have any queries about taking part in the study, please contact us on +44 800 298 5313. The opening times for the phone line are:

Monday to Friday: 8am to 7pm
Saturday: 8am to 1pm

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