The Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, formerly Office for National Statistics (ONS) Opinions Survey or ONS Omnibus Survey, is a regular, multi-purpose survey which started operating commercially in 1990. It was carried out in eight months of the year until April 2005, when it began to run monthly. It was originally set up to meet the needs of government departments for a survey that used short and simple sets of questions, had greater statistical reliability than private sector omnibus surveys and a properly designed random sample. Each month's questionnaire consists of two elements: core demographic questions, and non-core questions that vary from month to month. From April 2012 the ONS Opinions Survey changed its name to the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey following the merger of some elements from the General Lifestyle Survey (GLF), which closed in January 2012.
GN 33252 | Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, 1990-2007
GN 33415 | Opinions and Lifestyle Survey: Special Licence Access, 1997-
GN 33441 | Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, 2008-
How can I find out about the datasets – variables, population, sample size etc.?
You can find links to the datasets in the DATA ACCESS section above. When you follow the link to a dataset you will be taken to its catalogue record which contains the following information:
Download button: this is located near the top right of the catalogue record.
A brief overview of the data: who collected the data, the main topics, the population covered, how the data were collected, the levels of geography and much more.
Documentation:scroll down the catalogue record to find the documentation. All datasets come with documentation supplied by the data producer, normally in the form of searchable pdfs. The documentation varies from survey to survey but will normally include a user guide, the questionnaire and a technical report. These documents should tell you:
how the data were collected and processed into its current format
which topics were covered and the wording of the questions used
how each variable was coded and how derived variables were constructed
the name(s) of the weighting variables, how the weight(s) were constructed and when to use each one if there are more than one
Related studies and Publications using the data: see which surveys are related, and how other researchers have used the data.
What format are the data in and where can I download them from?
Most survey data may be downloaded as SPSS, Stata or tab-delimited files. There is a download button near the top right of each catalogue record. Most datasets can be downloaded after you login to your UK Data Service account. See our Access pages for more information about how to access data.
See our Use data pages for more advice about getting started with analyses. These pages contain advice and training; guides about datasets, topics and methods and software including SPSS and Stata; information about how others have used the data and how to cite datasets. See also our Events pages for courses and webinars about how to find, use and manage data.
The Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, formerly known as ONS Opinions Survey or Omnibus, is a regular, multi-purpose survey which was carried out in eight months of the year until April 2005. From this point it has run monthly. It started operating commercially in 1990 and was set up originally to meet the needs of government departments for a survey that used short and simple sets of questions, had greater statistical reliability than private sector omnibus surveys and a properly designed random sample. Now, however, an increasing number of academics are finding it a valuable research tool.
The Opinions and Lifestyle Survey is used for a number of purposes, for example:
to provide quick answers to questions of immediate interest
to provide information on topics that do not require a full survey
to develop and pilot questions for other surveys
to sift for subgroups that can be followed up in another survey
Each month's questionnaire consists of two elements: core questions, covering demographic information, are asked each month together with non-core questions that vary from month to month. The OPN surveys cover a very wide range of topics because the questions are sponsored by those who want to get answers to questions of immediate interest, to get information on topics that do not require a full survey, to pilot questions for other surveys and to sift for subgroups that can be followed up in another survey.
Topics that have been covered in the OPN surveys include:
climate change and transport
public attitudes towards teachers
… and many more.
Modules and when they were included are below. Please note that similar modules conducted at different times may not have the same name.
How do I find out which questions/variables are included?
Variable lists and PDF user guides (including questionnaires) are freely available on the catalogue page of each dataset. To find a dataset’s catalogue page, follow the link to the dataset from this page under DATA ACCESS or from the results pages in our database search engine Discover.