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Socio-demographic data sources for monitoring locality health profiles and geographical planning of primary health care in the UK

  • Edgar Samarasundera (a1) (a2), David Martin (a3), Sonia Saxena (a4) and Azeem Majeed (a5)

The aim of this article is to provide UK-based primary health care research and development workers with a review of the current range of published, aggregated socio-demographic indicators that can be combined with health and health care datasets, for the purposes of monitoring locality health profiles and planning primary health care. Non-UK readers should nevertheless find the review of some relevance to their own national contexts.


There is an increasing range of resources available for such purposes and many of these datasets are equally useful outside of geographic work. The 2001 census introduced important changes to what routine data are available, as will the 2011 census. These changes have been paralleled by developments in the availability of socio-demographic indicators and the increasing popularity of geographic information systems. Health data can now be combined with those from socio-demographic more efficiently to produce what are termed value-added datasets.


We review recent and planned developments in key data sources currently available in the UK and examine they can be used to monitor inequalities in primary health care inequalities and their role in the integration of primary health care needs mapping and forecasting with the spatial planning of areas undergoing regeneration.


Recent and planned developments in the availability of both socio-demographic datasets in tandem with parallel developments in spatial technologies have provided a flexible, potent geographical methodology for primary health care research and development. The current consultation process for the 2011 census provides those involved with primary health care research and development an opportunity to influence future developments.

Corresponding author
Correspondence to: Mr Edgar Samarasundera, Department of Primary Care and Social Medicine, Imperial College London, Reynolds Building, St Dunstan’s Road, London W6 8RP, UK. Email:
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