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Making best use of the ScotPHO website

This page provides a brief guide to making the best use of the ScotPHO website. It aims to respond to questions from our users about when they should use the ScotPHO website and when they should use other websites like the ISD Scotland, Health Protection Scotland (HPS), National Records of Scotland (NRS) or Scottish Government websites.

What is the ScotPHO website most useful for?

The purpose of the ScotPHO website is to provide easy access to information about the range of data sources available to help those working to improve population health in Scotland. The site includes topic summaries: for a range of health problems; for behavioural issues such as physical activity, diet and the use of tobacco and alcohol; for environmental issues and for social determinants of health such as education, income and the social environment; and about the needs of specific population groups such as older people, prisoners and LGB people. It includes a range of interactive online tools, for example profiles that allow users to look at local health indicators and a European indicators database that allows users to compare Scotland and other European countries. The site also includes a wide range of public health reports published by collaboration members and a range of other resources including guides to methodology, training materials and overviews of policy relevant to population health in Scotland.

The ScotPHO website is designed to be useful to those carrying out population needs assessment. A description of this process is provided in a presentation on the ScotPHO website. It should also be useful for those making decisions about prioritisation, and for those planning services.

Work is currently underway to better integrate ScotPHO with other available resources to support public health action.

What is the ScotPHO website less useful for?

The ScotPHO website does not in general publish new data – rather it points to the most appropriate data sources. If you want to download data you are unlikely to find this on the ScotPHO website. However you may find guidance about the best source of the data you are looking for.

The ScotPHO website does not aim to provide information for patients and their carers. We would recommend other websites for this purpose, such as NHS Inform.

The ScotPHO website does not currently aim to provide information on the effectiveness of treatments and other health interventions. We do, however, provide general links to sources of this information and we have plans to better integrate ScotPHO with other resources.

When should I use other websites?

If you know which agency publishes the data you are looking for it will probably be more useful to search that agency's website directly. Much of data highlighted on the ScotPHO website is published on the ISD, NRS or Scottish Government websites, and appropriate links are provided from all of the sections on the ScotPHO website. However, if you do not find what you are looking for on the ScotPHO website you may want to check these other websites directly.

What could I get from the ISD website?

The ISD website provides detailed reports on specific topics. It provides data in tables and increasingly through interactive tools like Tableau. One quick way to find what you are looking for is to look through the A-Z list of topics. ISD also publishes a useful list of all the databases they hold. If you are looking for a recent report it is worth looking at ISD's list of recent publications. ISD can provide data to meet your specific needs through an information request, though there may be a charge (64Kb) if this requires a large amount of work, and there may be restrictions if there is a risk of identifying individual patients.

What could I get from the NRS website?

National Records of Scotland (NRS) publish reports and detailed statistics on births, deaths and population in Scotland at small area level. They are also able to provide data to meet your specific needs through an information request service.

What could I get from the HPS website?

Health Protection Scotland (HPS) publish reports, guidance and detailed statistics on communicable diseases and environmental health.

What could I get from the Scottish Government website?

The Scottish Government website has a useful page that summarises Scottish Government Health Statistics. These include overviews of key public health topics and details of national surveys, such as the Scottish Health Survey and the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS), as well as pages on health inequalities.

Page last updated: 18 January 2017

© Scottish Public Health Observatory 2014