Scottish Health and Ethnicity Linkage Study

Results so far

20 papers have been published so far, showing important health variations and similarities between different ethnic groups across Scotland.

What are the results published so far?

We have shown that there are differences across health areas when looked at by ethnic group in Scotland.

Some examples:

  • Pakistani men living in Scotland have a significantly higher risk of heart attack and of admission to hospital with asthma compared to White Scottish men.
  • Men and women from nearly all ethnic minority groups (both non-White and other White people) are less likely to develop cancer than the White Scottish population.
  • Chinese people living in Scotland seem to have better health than White Scottish with lower risk of hospital admission or death in many health outcomes (heart disease, cancer, any psychiatric disorder, alcohol related diseases, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
  • White Scottish mums are less likely to breast feed their babies than mothers from all the other populations in Scotland.
  • All non White ethnic minority groups gave birth to babies who weighed less than babies born to White Scottish mums.
  • There are unequal patterns of psychiatric hospitalisations by ethnic group in Scotland. South Asian and Chinese groups in particular access mental health services late or not at all.
  • There are substantial ethnic differences in breast screening attendance with South Asian women having lower rates of attendance.
  • Risk of appendicitis was comparatively low in most non-White groups, while Crohn’s disease was mostly higher in South Asians.
  • There are particularly high rates of lower respiratory tract infection hospitalisations in Pakistani men and women.
  • The risk for all-respiratory diseases was found to be relatively low in Other White British and Chinese men and high in Pakistani men and women.
  • The risks of common gastrointestinal (GI) diseases like peptic ulcer disease and pancreatitis were comparatively low in most White ethnic groups.

In general terms therefore we observed many differences between ethnic groups in Scotland.

Summaries of published papers

Summaries of the papers published to date can be found in the document below.

What does this mean for those living in Scotland?

We found that there are important health variations and similarities between ethnicities across Scotland. By studying these differences we can help to improve the health of everyone as this is information for the whole of Scotland.

What are the reasons for ethnic variations ?

A lot of the time we don't know the reasons for these variations yet. The results of this study can allow researchers to explore further the reasons for these ethnic variations.

Helping to develop new health policy?

We can also see from this research the need to adapt health policy and strategy to meet the needs of modern Scotland. If the findings of SHELS are taken into account it could help:

  • inform those at risk
  • develop preventative strategies
  • enable treatments to become better targeted