Activity restriction harmonised standard
This harmonised standard is under development following the Inclusive Data Taskforce recommendations to review and update the harmonised standards every 5 years. This is in line with the GSS Harmonisation Workplan where disability has been identified as a priority topic.
You can find more information about this in the “Further information” section of this page. If you would like to be involved with this work, please contact us at Harmonisation@statistics.gov.uk.
|Publication date:||9 June 2020|
|Owner:||GSS Harmonisation Team|
|Who this is for:||Users and producers of statistics|
|Type:||Harmonisation standards and guidance|
What we mean by harmonisation
Harmonisation is the process of making statistics and data more comparable, consistent and coherent. Harmonised standards set out how to collect and report statistics to ensure comparability across different data collections in the Government Statistical Service (GSS). This produces more useful statistics and gives users a greater level of understanding about the topic.
What we mean by activity restriction
This standard measures the extent and duration of restrictions in carrying out day-to-day activities if a person has any long lasting health conditions or illnesses.
This standard does not refer to disability. The way individuals view disability varies and the term itself often makes people think about the most severe physical disabilities. Some individuals with impairments may not identify as being disabled.
Questions and response options (inputs)
The harmonised questions on this topic are designed to collect basic information, for use in the majority of surveys. They are not designed to replace questions used in specialist surveys where more detailed analysis is required.
This question should be asked to all respondents who answered “yes” to the long lasting health conditions and illness question. It should be asked by proxy if a respondent is under 16 or not fit to respond.
Introducing the question
When introducing the question, the interviewer should state:
“This question asks about whether your health condition or illness currently affects your ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, either a lot or a little or not at all. In answering this question, you should consider whether you are affected while receiving any treatment or medication for your condition or illness and/or using any devices such as a hearing aid, for example.”
|Does your condition or illness/do any of your conditions or illnesses reduce your ability to carry out day-to-day activities?||1. Yes, a lot
2. Yes, a little
3. Not at all
Normal day-to-day activities can include:
- washing and dressing
- household cleaning
- shopping for essentials
- using public or private transport
- walking a defined distance
- climbing stairs
- remembering to pay bills
- lifting objects from the ground or a work surface in the kitchen
- moderate manual tasks such as gardening
- gripping objects such as cutlery
- hearing and speaking in a noisy room
The respondent should answer based on their current activity restriction. They should consider any treatment they receive, medication they take or other devices they use (such as a hearing aid).
Duration of restriction
This question should be asked to all respondents aged 16 and over who responded “yes” to the long lasting health conditions and illness question and responded “yes, a lot” or “yes, a little” to the activity restriction question. It should be asked by proxy if a respondent is under 16 or not fit to respond.
|For how long has your ability to carry out day-to-day activities been reduced?||1. Less than six months
2. Between six months and twelve months
3. Twelve months or more
Using this standard
Guidance for data collection
This question is to be asked to respondents aged 16 and over.
This question can be asked by proxy for respondents aged under 16.
If respondents are too ill to respond on their own behalf, proxy responses from a family member or friend can be recorded. For those not able to speak English, a translator should assist with the data collection.
Spontaneous responses can be recorded but should not be presented as options to respondents.
Equality Act 2010
To measure disability for the Equality Act 2010 you should use this standard together with the long lasting health conditions and illness standard.
Types of data collection this standard is suitable for
These questions measure the extent and duration of restrictions carrying out day-to-day activities if a person has any long lasting health conditions or illness. They are for use in social surveys.
The standard can be used for:
- interviewer led questionnaires
- Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI)
- Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI)
- paper based and online self-completion forms
Using this question in the Welsh language
This harmonised standard was designed in the English language. The England and Wales Census 2021 Welsh translation is:
Ydy unrhyw gyflwr neu salwch sydd gennych chi’n lleihau eich gallu I wneud gweithgareddau pob dydd?
- Ydy, yn fawr
- Ydy, ychydig
- Ddim o gwbl
Harmonised standards based on Census research have been tested in the Welsh language, which is why we are able to provide Welsh versions of them. If you are interested in using a Welsh language version of a harmonised standard that has not been translated, please contact us at Harmonisation@statistics.gov.uk.
Presenting and reporting the data (outputs)
These tables show the output categories for activity restriction. We are not prescribing a code but have given examples. The coding used should comply with the coding conventions used in the specific survey source.
Restriction carrying out normal day-to-day activities
Suggested variable name: RedAct
|Yes, a lot||1|
|Yes, a little||2|
|Not at all||3|
Implications for classifications
|Equality Act: Core currently disabled population||1 or 2|
|Equality Act: Not core currently disabled||3|
|EU-SILC: Not severely hampered in daily activities||3|
|EU-SILC: Not hampered in daily activities to some extent||3|
Duration of activity restriction
Suggested variable name: DurRedAct
|Less than six months||1|
|Between six months and 12 months||2|
|12 months or more||3|
Implications for classifications
|EU-SILC: Severely hampered in daily activities||2 or 3 and RedAct 1|
|EU-SILC: Hampered in daily activities to some extent||2 or 3 and RedAct 2|
|EU-SILC: Not severely hampered in daily activities||1|
|EU-SILC: Not hampered in daily activities to some extent||1|
Limitations of disaggregating data by severity
The “a little” and “a lot” response options were originally designed to use plain English wording and to capture data on severity of activity restriction. However, engagement with stakeholders suggests that respondents do not consistently interpret the difference between “a little” and “a lot”. This issue does not affect a binary disabled or not disabled distinction because the “a little” and “a lot” options are aggregated in line with the legal definition to demonstrate a restriction to daily activities.
In our long-term plans outlined in our review of the disability harmonised standards, we will explore the possibility of providing appropriate guidance to reduce subjectivity. Whilst this work is ongoing, we recommend that, if users wish to publish data broken down by severity, they note the subjective nature of the terms. They should also highlight that the accuracy, reliability, and comparability of severity data resulting from use of the current standard is unknown.
Use in the census
This standard, together with the long lasting health conditions and illness standard, was chosen for use in the 2021 Census in England and Wales.
Outputs that use this standard are comparable with other surveys that also use this standard. However, we would not recommend comparing levels of activity restriction from outputs using this standard with other outputs that use an alternative measure.
Comparability across the censuses
The 2011 Censuses for England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland all used different questions on activity restriction and none of them produced comparable data on this topic.
The 2021 Census in England and Wales used this standard for activity restriction. However, as this was different from the questions used in the 2011 Census for England and Wales, the data from these two censuses are not comparable.
The 2021 Census for Scotland used the same questions on activity restriction as the 2011 Census for Scotland. This means the data from these two censuses is comparable. However, the data is still not comparable with data from the 2021 Censuses for England and Wales or Northern Ireland.
Similarly, the 2021 Census for Northern Ireland used the same questions on activity restriction as the 2011 Census for Northern Ireland. This means the data from these two censuses is comparable. However, the data is still not comparable with data from the 2021 Censuses for England and Wales or Scotland.
Examples of when this standard has been used
Surveys that used this standard
- Labour Force Survey
- Family Resources Survey
- Health Survey for England
- Millennium Cohort Study
- National Travel Survey
- Scottish Household Survey
- Living Costs and Food Survey
Development of this standard
A topic group consisting of government departments, academics and external organisations designed the question. Then, various proposals underwent cognitive testing. This testing looked at how respondents react to different versions of the question and checked that the questions correctly capture whether a respondent has a disability according to the Equality Act.
Further information on the development of this standard can be accessed in two Health Statistics Quarterly articles published in Issue 51 in August 2011.
Inclusive Data Taskforce and GSS Harmonisation Workplan
In October 2020, the National Statistician established the Inclusive Data Taskforce. It was designed to improve the UK’s inclusive data holdings in a broad range of areas. This covers the nine protected characteristics of the Equality Act.
In September 2021, the Taskforce recommendations were published. Some of these recommendations specifically refer to harmonisation.
In response to the recommendations, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) oversaw the publication of an Implementation Plan in January 2022. This gives information about the current and planned initiatives across the UK statistical system. It refers to a GSS Harmonisation workplan, which was published in February 2022. This workplan includes reviewing, refining, and updating harmonised standards.
The workplan sets out activities for this standard in relation to disability. This includes:
- reviewing the topic area
- working with stakeholders and user groups to make sure disability standards meet user needs
- testing possible improvements and changes to the question design for the disability standards
Timescales for this work will be guided by the feedback the team gets throughout the project. We have:
- run research and engagement activities throughout 2022
- published the first findings from our research and engagement work in our review of the disability harmonised standards
We are now working to:
- carry out further research and engagement activities throughout 2023
- design draft questions for updating the disability standards by winter 2023 — this will depend on our research findings and stakeholder engagement activities
- publish updated online self-completion questions by early 2024, followed by telephone mode and face-to-face mode questions
We are always interested in hearing from users so we can develop our work. If you would like to be involved with this work, or if you use or produce statistics based on this topic contact us at Harmonisation@statistics.gov.uk.
|26 April 2023||Limitations of disaggregating data by severity added.|
|11 January 2021||Guidance for data collection added|