National Burden of Disease, Injuries and Risk Factors Study

The National Burden of Disease, Injuries and Risk Factors Study in Scotland was intially a two year project funded by the Scottish Chief Scientist Office, which has now become an ongoing research study. The study is being conducted by the Scottish Public Health Observatory (ScotPHO) teams at ISD Scotland and NHS Health Scotland, and the main objective of the study is to consider the current methods from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors (GBD) project (a systematic, scientific effort to estimate the comparative magnitude of health loss due to diseases, injuries, and risk factors), and assess their application and validity in Scotland.

Burden of disease is measured using the disability adjusted life year (DALY),  which combines years of life lost (YLL) due to premature mortality and years of life lost due to time lived in states of less than full health - years of life with disability (YLD). The principle guiding the burden of disease approach is that the best estimates of incidence, prevalence, and mortality can be generated by carefully analysing all available sources of information in a country, and accounting for under-reporting. The objectives of the study are:

  • To provide comprehensive data on health needs to support rational resource allocation.
  • To identify inequalities in the burden of disease across sub-populations and socio-economic groups.
  • To analyse the contribution to this burden of selected risk factors.
  • To provide epidemiological information against which to compare the relative impacts of interventions in reducing the burden of disease and to inform economic evaluation of those interventions.
  • To help address the future challenges posed by the ageing of the population, changes in disease and risk factor patterns, and the increasing costs of health services through the production of projections of the disease burden.
  • To assess whether the large effort to undertake a Burden of Disease study for Scotland, is warranted, by comparing our results to the results that can be obtained for Scotland from the GBD study.  Factors that will be explored include the impact of using different methodology and the use of routine health data/linkages to estimate disease prevalence.

The project will report its first set of findings on this website in July 2017.

Project team: Diane Stockton (Principal Investigator), Ian Grant (principal researcher), Grant Wyper (analyst), Oscar Mesalles-Naranjo (analyst), Elaine Tod (risk factors researcher), Gerry McCartney (advisor), Colin Fischbacher (advisor), Richard Dobbie (advisor).

Advisory group: Harry Campbell (Chair), Marjorie Marshall (Scottish Government), Oliver Harding (NHS Forth Valley), Eric Baijal (NHS Border), Emma McIntosh (Glasgow University), Sarah Wild (Edinburgh University), Adrian Davies (Public Health England), Tom Barlow (Chief Scientist Office), Donald Henderson (Scottish Government).

Additionally, for each disease and injury grouping we are consulting with an expert or group of experts in the field to test the validity of our assumptions and data sources, before finalising our results.

To find out more or to get involved, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Section updates:

  • This section was first published in April 2015.
  • The next review and update is due to be carried out by end July 2017.