Health Survey Northern Ireland - First Results 2014/15

Date published: 11 November 2015

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety published today, its “Health Survey Northern Ireland: First Results 2014/15” report.

Health Survey Northern Ireland: First Results

The Health Survey Northern Ireland has run annually, on a continuous basis, since 2010/11. The 2014/15 survey included questions relating to general health, mental health and wellbeing, diet and nutrition, breastfeeding, oral health, medicines, obesity, smoking, and sexual health.

Key Findings

Results from the Health Survey Northern Ireland 2014/15 show that:

  • Almost three-quarters of respondents (72%) described their health as being good or very good. Around three in ten (29%) reported having a limiting long-standing illness, an increase from the rate reported in 2010/11 (27%). Around half of these respondents felt they received enough support from health and social care services to help manage their condition.
  • More than half of respondents (53%) were taking medications prescribed by a healthcare professional, with females more likely to be doing so (57%) than males (48%). The rate of those taking prescribed medication increased with age from a quarter of those aged 16-24 to 91% of those aged 75 and over.
  • Whilst two-thirds of respondents correctly identified that antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections, a lower proportion (42%) knew that the chances of developing drug-resistant bacteria increase by not finishing the course. A relatively small proportion of respondents incorrectly thought that cold and flus should be treated with antibiotics (8%) and that once you start feeling better you should stop taking the antibiotic (8%).
  • One-fifth of respondents (19%) scored highly on the GHQ12 suggesting they may have a possible mental health problem. Females (20%) were more likely to score highly than males (16%) and respondents in the most deprived areas (30%) were twice as likely to record a high GHQ12 score than those in the least deprived areas (15%).
  • Over a third of respondents (36%) ate the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, an increase from 33% in 2013/14. Females continue to be more likely to meet the guidelines (40%) than males (30%).
  • Around one-fifth of respondents (22%) were current smokers (23% of males and 21% of females), the same rates as reported in 2013/14. Smoking prevalence in the most deprived areas (36%) was three times that in the least deprived areas (12%).
  • A small proportion of respondents (5%) reported that they currently use electronic cigarettes. Over half of these respondents (55%) are current smokers and over two-fifths (43%) used to smoke on a regular basis.
  • Over half of respondents (56%) did not know any of the symptoms of oral cancer.
  • A quarter of adults (25%) were obese with a further 35% classed as overweight. The proportion of adults classed as overweight or obese (60%) has remained relatively constant since 2005/06.
  • Around three-quarters of children aged 2-15 were classed as either normal weight or underweight, while 21% were classed as overweight and 7% were classed as obese. The proportion of children classified as either overweight or obese (28%) has not changed since 2005/06. 

Notes to editors: 

1. This publication presents the first results from the 2014/15 Health Survey Northern Ireland. This survey has run annually, on a continuous basis, since 2010/11 and covers a range of health topics.

2. The fieldwork for the survey was conducted by the Central Survey Unit of Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) and covered the period April 2014 to March 2015.

3. A random sample of 5,850 addresses across Northern Ireland was selected for interviewing. The final achieved sample was 4,144 individuals. The response rate for the survey was 64%.

4. Unless otherwise specified, results relate to adults aged 16 and over.

5. The results are based on information that has been weighted by age and sex in order to better reflect the composition of the general population of Northern Ireland.

6. As the results are based on data collected from a sample of the population, they are subject to sampling error. This should be taken into consideration when interpreting the results. Differences reported are those that are statistically significant at the 95% confidence level.

7. Measurements of height and weight were sought from individuals aged two and over in participating households. Data were obtained from 511 children aged 2 to 15 years and 3,172 adults aged 16 and above.

8. Adult obesity levels were estimated using the Body Mass Index. This is a widely used indicator of body fat levels which is calculated from a person’s height and weight. BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight (in kilograms) by the square of their height (in metres). In adults, a BMI between 25 and 29.9kg/m2 is considered overweight and a BMI of 30kg/m2 is considered obese.

9. Child obesity levels were classified by comparing BMI by sex and age of the child against the growth curve developed by the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF).

10. The Northern Ireland Multiple Deprivation Measure 2010 (NIMDM) was used a measure of deprivation. The NIMDM 2010 is the official measure of spatial deprivation in Northern Ireland.

This publication is available online.

Additional information is available from Public Health Information and Research Branch

11. Media queries to DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 0579, or out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned.

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