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GPD Support


NHS National Services Scotland ISD Scotland & NHS National Services Scotland


Measures of deprivation are used in analyses, research and publications for a variety of purposes including:

  • Measuring and monitoring inequalities in health and healthcare activity.
  • Standardising health and healthcare activity measures, for more meaningful comparisons between geographical areas.

Deprivation takes many different forms in every known society. People can be said to be deprived if they lack the types of diet, clothing, housing, household facilities and fuel and environmental, educational, working and social conditions, activities and facilities which are customary, or at least widely encouraged and approved, in the societies to which they belong (Townsend, P, 1987, cited in Measuring Deprivation in Scotland: Developing a Long-Term Strategy - Final Report Opens in new window).

Ideally, material deprivation would be measured on an individual basis using information on aspects such as income and employment/occupation. In practice, however, this information is not usually available, and instead an area-based measure is used. The deprivation level for the population of a small geographical area is estimated from aggregate data derived from the census and other routine sources. The area's deprivation level is then often used as the best available estimate of the deprivation level of individuals residing there.

Deprivation Measures

ISD uses two area-based measures of deprivation for Scotland - the Carstairs (and Morris) Index and the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD).

SIMD and Carstairs should not be combined in one analysis - they are completely different.

For long-term trends, including pre-1996 data: Use Carstairs & Morris Index
For data from 1996: Use SIMD

Please note: this is only a recommendation.

Please see the relevant SIMD and Carstairs sections for further advice.

Practical advice on attaching deprivation measures to your files

The Geography, Population and Deprivation (GPD) Team has produced a comprehensive document PHI Deprivation Guidance Download PDF file [587Kb].

This offers background information, outlines the deprivation indices used by ISD, and recommendations are made on the choice of deprivation index to use in health analyses.

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