The National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal)


  • Dr Catherine Mercer

    University College London

  • Prof Pam Sonnenberg

    University College London

Project summary

The British National Surveys of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) are the world’s largest, most detailed studies of sexual behaviour. People are randomly selected by postcode and are invited to participate. A survey has taken place every 10 years since 1990 with a fourth planned for 2020. Interviewers will collect information from nearly 10,000 people aged 15 to 59 using computerised questionnaires to ensure privacy. Survey answers will be combined with information from biological samples, such as urine to test for sexually transmitted infections, and routinely-collected data, for example from patient health records. 

Natsal provides a comprehensive picture of the sexual health of the nation and shows how this has changed over time and across generations. The findings will guide policy on services and interventions, such as chlamydia screening and sex and relationships education, to improve sexual health in Britain.