Public Health Scotland (PHS) has published the latest findings from the Scottish Burden of Disease (SBOD) study which explores the impact on the annual disease burden of changes to the Scottish population over the next 20 years, taking account of factors such as age and sex.

The SBOD study was set up to monitor Scotland’s population health, by measuring differences in harm from causes of disease, injury, and death across the entire life course.

The report suggests that, despite an overall projected decline in the population in Scotland by 2043, annual disease burdens could increase by 21% with subsequent impact on the need for, and provision of, health and social care. It assumes no substantial change to current dietary, exercise and other lifestyle habits of the population. Leading causes are expected to continue to be cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and neurological diseases.

The research measures the burden of disease using disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), which combines years of life lost due to early death and years of life lost due to living with ill-health.  The use of DALYs allows for a wider consideration of the collective impact of ill-health and mortality on the Scottish population.

Dr Nick Phin, Director of Public Health Science and Medical Director at Public Health Scotland, said:

“These findings highlight the urgent need for action to address health related behaviours that may influence health outcomes later in life. 

“A focus on prevention and the underlying issues that can impact on health, such as poverty and deprivation, is essential to help mitigate the challenges in caring for such large numbers of people with these serious and disabling conditions. Prevention is key to enabling people in Scotland to live longer lives in better health.”

Read the full Scottish Burden of Disease study.

Last updated: 30 November 2022