Natsal is limited by the number of questions it can ask as the survey is designed to take around 50 minutes on average to complete. It is designed this way so as not to be too burdensome for participants. Although that may sound like a long time to be answering questions about sex and sexual health, Natsal also needs to ask questions that help to contextualise the information it gathers on sex and sexual health.
For example, sociodemographic questions including age, ethnic group, educational attainment, and so on. Plus, the concept of sexual health has evolved to be far broader than simply about ‘bugs and babies’ and now includes sexual function, sexual pleasure, and sexual violence, as part of a broader understanding of sexual wellbeing. Natsal’s remit has therefore considerably widened from the very first survey that focused on understanding HIV risk to needing to address a much broader range of topics.
It is important therefore that Natsal researchers consult and listen to its stakeholders – that is, the people who will be using the resulting data – to decide upon the most important questions that Natsal needs to ask in order to collect the most useful data to inform policy and practice.