Support #1962

Early-wave proxy/inapplicables for the physical and mental health (sf / scsf) variables and sources for the derived scales (sf12mcs_dv)

Added by Thomas Stephens 6 months ago. Updated 3 months ago.

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Good evening,

I have some brief queries about above variables.

By way of background (and mostly just to provide some detail for other readers): I note that from wave 2-onwards, Understanding Society has a family of health variables in the self-completion questionnaire giving lots of detail on the way peoples' health is limited (all these variables have the "scsf" prefix). I also note that the same questions were directly asked of respondents, ie not in the self-completion questionnaire, in wave 1 (this data being prefixed "sf"). I can see that the general health question (called "sf1") continues to be asked directly of respondents in addition to also being asked in the self-completion survey (where it's called "scsf1"), but apart from that, from wave 2-onwards all the more detailed questions are only asked in self-completion.

I note that there are two very useful derived variables which take all these answers and convert them into a 0-100 scale, using a well-established methodology - one for the mental health-related questions (sf12mcs_dv); and another for the physical health ones (sf12pcs_dv). I am interested in using this data from Wave 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 of Understanding Society for a study I'm working on, although I may also use some of the more detailed "scsf" questions for some analysis.

I have a couple of questions about this data:

1. I can see that there are far more inapplicable (-8) and proxy (-7) missing values in earlier waves of the data. Eg 16.5% of respondents are recorded as -8 or -7 in Wave 4, but only 3.5% are in Wave 12. Could you shed any light on why this is, particularly for the inapplicables? I have checked the question routing in the user survey questionnaire and they appear to be exactly the same in Wave 4 and Wave 12, hence my confusion.

2. Can you confirm that from wave 2-onwards, the derived variables (sf12mcs_dv / sf12pcs_dv) are derived exclusively from the self-completion data, and there isn't a direct set of questions I'm not aware of? The UKHLS variable search webpage still refers to "sf" rather than "scsf." I ask chiefly because presumably this affects the weight to be used, as I understand I would need to switch to a "_indsc" weight if I add this derived data to my analysis.

Best wishes,



Updated by Understanding Society User Support Team 6 months ago

  • Category set to Data documentation
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Many thanks for your enquiry. The Understanding Society team is looking into it and we will get back to you as soon as we can. We aim to respond to simple queries within 48 hours and more complex issues within 7 working days.

Best wishes,
Understanding Society User Support Team


Updated by Understanding Society User Support Team 6 months ago

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Hi Thomas,

1) I am assuming you're asking about the scsf1 question. That is a function of the gradual increase of the number of web interviews. When you compare the universe between wave 4 and 12, you will see that in wave 4 it says "Mode is face-to-face and has agreed to self-completion OR sample month is 12 - 24 and mode is telephone" (lest's ignore the "sample month is 12 - 24" part which is not important here), whilst in wave 12 "Mode is face-to-face and has agreed to self-completion OR mode is telephone or web". Then, in wave 4 over 95% of the individual interviews were f2f, whilst in wave 12 only 3%, 82% being web (see Since web interviews are by definition self-completion all respondents who got to that question will get it automatically, whereas in f2f some will be inapplicable because they didn't agree to self-completion (see
2) Yes, you can check that in the syntax files creating this variable:

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
UKHLS User Support


Updated by Understanding Society User Support Team 3 months ago

  • Status changed from Feedback to Resolved
  • % Done changed from 80 to 100

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