Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use (SDD) Among Young People in England Survey

Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use (SDD) Among Young People in England Survey: Information for parents / carers

What is the survey about?

The Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use survey has been running since 1982 and this year will collect information on the attitudes and experiences of more than 12,000 secondary school pupils. The research contributes to National Statistics which are used by government departments and local authorities to inform policy and plan services to help improve young people’s lives. Government users of the data include the Department of Health and Social Care, the Department for Education, and the Home Office. The survey asks pupils about their experiences of smoking, drinking and taking drugs, and how they make choices about them.

Who is carrying out the study and who is it being conducted for?

The study is being carried out by Ipsos, a leading market research organisation which has extensive experience of carrying out surveys of young people. Ipsos have been commissioned to conduct the survey by NHS England. NHS England has a responsibility to collect, analyse and publish health data, including that on young people’s health. The survey is funded by the UK Government.

Why is it important to take part?

Your child’s help is really valuable in making sure we understand the lives of all young people. The results of the survey are used by the NHS, charities and Government, so they can make the right decisions about how to help young people. Your child’s involvement in this project will help to ensure the survey produces a nationally representative sample.

The survey is very high profile and has a significant impact on policy-making across government.  It is used by a wide range of government departments to design and monitor the impact of national and local policy: for example, it is used by the Department of Health and Social Care, the Department for Education and the Home Office. It is also used by local government departments, charities, and industry groups that aim to protect children.

Why was my child selected to take part?

With the co-operation of the head teacher, your child’s school has kindly agreed to take part. Your child’s class was chosen at random. Your child was not selected for any particular reason.

Will anyone see my child’s answers?

We can assure you that the survey will be treated as strictly confidential. Pupils will not be required to provide their name or any identifying information. No one will be able to identify pupils, schools or local authorities from the results of the study.

How will the survey work?

The survey will be completed in schools during one lesson slot, the survey will be completed online either in an IT classroom or on a tablet/laptop in exam conditions.

What are the questions about?

The questions in the survey ask about pupil demographics, including ethnicity, as well as smoking (including vaping), drinking and drug use experience. The study is completely voluntary: pupils will be provided with information about the survey and given an opportunity to withdraw from taking part before they are asked to complete the survey. They can also choose to not answer questions as they make their way through the survey.

Is taking part compulsory?

No. Taking part is completely voluntary. Schools’ and pupils’ help is really valuable in making sure we understand the lives of all young people. The results of the survey are used by the NHS, charities and Government, so they can make the right decisions about how to help young people.

What happens if I do not want my child to take part?

If you would like to withdraw your child from this study, please contact their form tutor as soon as possible. Please note, your child will still be required to attend school on that day.

What happens to the findings?

The findings from the survey will be written up in a national statistics report, which is planned to be published on the NHS England website in Summer 2024. The survey is anonymous, no identifiable information about the pupil is collected. Pupils’ answers will be combined, and only anonymous data will be reported. The publication will not identify any individual school or pupil. The results will be presented in statistical reports and tables including breakdowns by age, gender and ethnicity.

A data file containing the anonymous survey answers will be added to the UK Data Service Portal, which holds data for hundreds of the UK’s most important research studies. Researchers will be able to request access to the data but will not be able to identify which schools or pupils have taken part in the study.

Previous national level results can be found here: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/smoking-drinking-and-drug-use-among-young-people-in-england

Your child’s school will be emailed a short report with information on how their data compares to the national averages. The data in the report will not allow readers to identify individual respondents.

Data protection and confidentiality

The survey is carried out to fulfil NHS England's legal functions under the NHS Act 2006 to conduct, commission or assist the conduct of research into any matters relating to illness and such other maters connected with health services. 

This research is anonymous and complies with the Market Research Society Code of Conduct. Taking part in this survey is voluntary.  

The survey does not collect personal information or any data that may identify an individual child. The survey only collects responses to the questions asked regarding smoking drinking and drug use. Ipsos will store responses securely and keep it confidential. 

Answers to the survey will be aggregated and will be used to fulfil NHS England's functions in relation to its duties under the NHS Act. Only aggregated statistics will be shared and published.  

All of the research is carried out in line with the Market Research Society (MRS) Code of Conduct. The Market Research Society (MRS) is the UK professional body for research, insight and analytics. Everything that pupils tell us will be treated in complete confidence. You have the right to contact the MRS or ICO if you wish to complain about any aspect of this research.   

More information on what data is collected and how data is processed by the survey can be found in our Privacy Notice here (hyperlink PN) Information on how to complain to Ipsos or the ICO can be found here.  

The survey does not collect any personal data or data that may identify an individual.

Who can I contact if I have any further questions about SDD or am interested in taking part?

If you or your child have any questions, please contact Ipsos by email at SDDsurvey@ipsosresearch.com, or call on 080 8101 2066. You can also visit: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/smoking-drinking-and-drug-use-among-young-people-in-england for more information about the survey, how the data are used and what happens to the findings.