National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles

NATSALThe National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL) have gathered data on sexual behaviour, fertility, contraceptive use and sex-related diseases across the UK. The first survey - NATSAL-1 in 1990 - was funded by the Wellcome Trust and a second study, NATSAL-2, was carried out in 2000 with Medical Research Council (MRC) funding. The sample in the two studies effectively spans five decades, with the oldest men and women in NATSAL-1 born in 1931 and the youngest participants of NATSAL-2 born in 1985.


The studies have provided vital data for scientists, clinicians and policymakers on sexual health and risk taking in sexual behaviours, and regularly inform sex education policy and public health planning. In 2008, the MRC and Wellcome Trust announced funding for NATSAL-3, to which the ESRC is contributing £1.6 million.

NATSAL-3 will include a survey of sexual attitudes and lifestyles, from a probability sample of 15,000 men and women who are aged 16-74 years and resident in Britain, using computer-assisted interview techniques. The design and conduct of the survey was based upon methods established in 1990 and 2000 to ensure comparability, however there are several innovations for NATSAL-3 including:

  • an extended age range
  • enhanced biological measures (STIs and sex hormones)
  • additional questions exploring new areas
  • a qualitative component
  • methodological advances.

NATSAL-3 commenced in October 2008 and the first findings will be published in November 2013.

Further information

For more information about the study and findings go to the Natsal website.