Frequently asked questions


Why have I been chosen to take part?

How families are selected

To visit every family would take too long and be too costly, so we’ve selected a number of families at random from families that receive child benefit. We have taken special care to ensure that, taken together, all the families and children we have chosen are representative of all families and children of a certain age living in Scotland. The project looks at the experiences of children in all areas of Scotland.

Who has taken part in the study so far…

  • We started in 2005 with two groups of children: around 5,000 babies born between June 2004 and May 2005, and around 3,000 children aged just under three years old born between June 2002 and May 2003.
  • In 2010/11, we selected a further group of around 6000 babies born between March 2010 and February 2011.
  • Most recently, in 2017 we selected a further group of around 1,500 children born between June 2004 and May 2005, now aged around 13. These children have been invited to take part in interviews alongside the group of children the same age who were recruited to the study in 2005.

In total, around 15,000 children from all over the country have taken part in GUS. Each child and family that has been selected is an important part of the overall picture. Therefore, if a family cannot take part for any reason, they cannot be replaced by another family.

You might find that some of your neighbours will also have been invited to take part, or they might already have taken part. This is because we have randomly selected certain areas to focus on (this includes your neighbourhood). The areas we have chosen are right across the country, so that when all the interviews have finished, we will have collected information from people who live across Scotland in the full range of different neighbourhoods.


Why should I take part?

The information you give us about your views and circumstances will enable the Government to act and make improvements for the people who most need them. So you will be doing a favour for the whole of society and – possibly – for families in similar circumstances to your own. Your child will receive a small gift to say thank you for taking part and giving up their time.

Experience on similar studies also suggests that people often enjoy talking about their child and their experiences as they grow up. So we hope that you find taking part both interesting and enjoyable – but do please let the interviewer know what you think of the questionnaire, as we welcome your feedback! You can also give us feedback via email at or by phoning our FREEPHONE number at 0800 652 2704.


Is the study confidential?

Yes! Your answers will be treated in strict confidence, in accordance with data protection legislation.

We take great care to protect the confidentiality of the information we are given. The study results will never be in a form which can reveal your identity and will be used for statistical research purposes only. When we report the results from the study, we will be looking at patterns of responses across the population as a whole – not at the responses of individual people. No information will be released from the study that could identify any individuals or families.


What happens to the information I give?

Unlike other surveys that you may have taken part in, the information you provide is not used to help companies sell their products or for marketing. Instead, it’s used to help the Government understand life in Scotland and to design policies which aim to help people.

Social research, like the Growing Up in Scotland study, is governed by strict guidelines and codes of conduct which protects your identity and the answers you give. For example, we are not allowed to say to anyone whether or not you have taken part. Because you are protected in this way, there is no need to be worried about any of the answers you give; we will never pass this information on to anyone in such a way that you can be identified.

You can also be assured that taking part in the study will not lead to junk mail or any other unwanted contact. The research team will send a newsletter once a year and a thank-you letter for taking part. That’s it!


Who is carrying out the study?

The study is being carried out by ScotCen Social Research on behalf of the Scottish Government. The Scottish Government employs researchers who use Growing Up In Scotland (GUS) data to make sure policymakers are fully informed about what life in Scotland is really like for children and young people and their families. We also work in collaboration with a number of academic researchers who are experts in research on children, young people and families.

ScotCen Social Research is part of NatCen Social Research, Britain’s largest independent, non-profit social research institute. We carry out many important research studies for the Scottish Government, UK government departments, research councils, voluntary organisations and charitable foundations. All of our interviewers abide by a code of conduct and register with the local police of the area in which they are interviewing.


Why is the study important?

One of the most important things about the Growing Up in Scotland study is that it is uniquely Scottish. A lot of studies look at the UK as a whole, but this study only includes children and families in Scotland.

Aims of the study

The study is intended to provide information in relation to a range of different areas of relevance to the lives of young children and their families, including:

  • Childcare and issues relating to work/life balance
    • Parenting and family life
    • Child health and development
    • Parental health
    • Access to, awareness of and use of services for young children and families

The main aim of the study is to look at what impact Government policies have on important things like health, income and the wellbeing of children. The results from the study will help departments across the Government to:

  • Be aware of the important issues facing families in Scotland today
    • Develop policies which will work to address these issues
    • Check that policies are working well and, if not, how they can be changed for the better

Who uses the data and findings?

Policymakers at the Scottish Government will use findings from the study to plan services in the future, so you have a real chance to make a difference to policies affecting children in Scotland. The results of the study will enable the Government to develop policies to address any issues raised, and to check that policies are working well – and if not, how they can be changed for the better.

The data are also made available to people in the wider community, such as universities, local government and charities, so that additional research can be conducted. In this way, we hope to ensure that the most is made of all the data collected. It also means that people with a wide range of perspectives on British society can offer their own interpretations of the data.

Click here to find out who has been using findings from the study


What does the study involve?

This year’s interview

If you have been chosen to take part in Growing Up In Scotland, your name and address will be given to an interviewer from ScotCen Research who will get in touch with you to arrange an interview.

The interview will take place at your home at a time convenient to you, and it’ll last for about an hour. The interviewer will ask you some questions and enter your answers into their laptop. Taking part is very straightforward, and the interviewer will be able to answer any questions.

With your permission, your child will also have the chance to be involved by completing a short questionnaire, taking part in some language exercises and having their height and weight measured

In addition, if you have a partner and you live together, we would like him or her to complete a short paper questionnaire. Your interviewer will send this to you in advance of the interview. Please ask your partner to complete the questionnaire as soon as they can.

Once completed, they can simply insert the questionnaire into the sealable envelope provided, and give this to the interviewer when he or she comes to visit. If you haven’t received a questionnaire but think you should have, please talk to your interviewer who will give you a copy.

Being part of a longitudinal study

An important part of the Growing Up in Scotland Study is that it is ‘longitudinal’. This means that we follow every family every few years to see how people’s circumstances change. This makes the study unique as it provides the Government with information on how family life is changing over time and the effect that different policies appear to be having on people’s lives.

This makes it especially important that the families we have selected continue to take part also after the first interview. If families are unable to take part, we lose important information on whether their circumstances have become better or worse, or whether they feel local services have improved. As a result, the Government will have less information about how its policies are working for everyone.

Being part of the Growing Up in Scotland study is a relatively small commitment. Once the interview is completed, we will not need to speak to you again for another year or more. However, if your contact details (address, telephone number, email address) change, we would be extremely grateful if you could let us know – either by using this form, by emailing us at, or by calling us on 0800 652 2704.

We very much hope that you will enjoy taking part and will continue to do so in the future. However, you can withdraw from the study at any time and you don’t have to tell us why.


What if I move home between interviews or my contact details change?

Please complete this change of details form or email us at


What if I have questions about the study?

If you have a question which is not answered here, please contact the research team at or on FREEPHONE number 0800 652 2704.


What I’m not happy with how the study is carried out?

If at any point you are unhappy with any aspect of your involvement in the study, you can raise a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office, whose details can be found here:


Where can I get further advice and information on parenting and childcare?

Click here for links to useful websites and organisations.


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