National Burden of Disease, Injuries and Risk Factors study

The Scottish Burden of Disease (SBoD) study team has published new analysis which shows the extent to which different diseases affect Scotland’s health and life expectancy.

The analysis used an internationally recognised approach, referred to as ‘Burden of Disease’, to quantify the difference between the ideal of living to old age in good health and the situation where healthy life is shortened by illness, injury, disability and early death. Burden of disease studies use a single composite measure which combines the years lost because of early death (years of life lost - YLL) and years lost because people are living in less than ideal health (years lived with disability - YLD) – see infographic (28Kb). The measure used to describe the overall burden of disease is called the disability-adjusted life year (DALY).

What has been published?

  • An overview report (483Kb) which contains comprehensive burden of disease estimates for Scotland, focusing on the most common causes of the disease burden in Scotland in 2015. The key results are summarised in a bubble infographic (90Kb).
  • An age and gender (483Kb) report which explores how the disease burden in Scotland, in 2015, varied by gender and age for the leading causes of disease burden in Scotland.
  • Disease and Injury technical overviews which combine technical detail on the methods adopted for calculating the burden for each particular disease, with comprehensive results including a breakdown of the fatal and non-fatal components of the disease DALY (for the 25 leading causes of burden).
  • A package of excel files containing detailed results for SBoD 2015. These files contain information on the YLL, YLD and DALYs for all 132 diseases covering the Scottish population.
  • A technical report (166Kb) detailing the methods used to calculate YLL in SBoD.

The teams’ next step is to publish estimates of the disease burden in Scotland by local area and by levels of deprivation; provide projections of the disease burden up to 2025; estimate the burden of obesity, alcohol, tobacco, deprivation and multi-morbidity; and to look at the potential impact of a range of policies and interventions.

The SBoD team would like to acknowledge the time and advice given by their steering group and disease experts (19Kb) whom they consulted with.

To find out more, or if you would like to receive updates on the Scottish Burden of Disease study and have the chance to participate in further developing it, please contact the SBoD project team at


The National Burden of Disease, Injuries and Risk Factors Study in Scotland was intially a two year ScotPHO project funded by the Scottish Chief Scientist Office, which has now become an ongoing research study. The study is being conducted by researchers at ISD Scotland and NHS Health Scotland. The 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.

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

Section updates:

  • This section was last updated in July 2017.
  • The next review and update is due to be carried out by end December 2017.