Scottish Health and Ethnicity Linkage Study

What is SHELS?

SHELS began in 2003 and is now in its fourth phase.

In its most simple terms SHELS aims to examine the relationship or link between a person's ethnic group and a number of important health issues which affect the Scottish population. A person's ethnic group is often based on characteristics shared within the group. Usually it is things like a common language, culture, tradition and history. We all have an ethnic group.

Why was SHELS started?

To explore the relationship between ethnicity and health for the population of Scotland. The results will help to inform and improve the future of healthcare provision in Scotland.

We've seen the population of many countries, including Scotland, become increasingly ethnically diverse over recent decades.

We have seen too that there are striking health variations between different ethnic groups in the population. However, across the world, and here in Scotland, relevant research that tells us why is limited.

If we are to improve the health of everyone living in Scotland and devise the best treatments possible for all areas of the population we need to know how the different ethnic groups living in Scotland are affected by various health issues.

Informing health professionals and responding to legislation

More research on the health of all ethnic groups can help to inform the work of health professionals and third sector organisations. This research also helps us to respond to government policy and legislation.

One example of this legislation includes The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 and Equality Act 2010 which require public authorities (including NHS organisations) to be active in promoting equality.

In addition Fair for All:Working Towards Culturally Competent Services , published by the Scottish Executive in 2002, highlighted the long term requirement to improve the health of minority and ethnic minorities in Scotland and meet the needs of our population.

To do this we need accurate information about people's ethnicity alongside information about health issues affecting Scotland's population.