Healthy Ireland Survey Results

survey of the health and wellbeing of the population

Healthy Ireland Survey

Contents

  1. Background
  2. Wave 3
  3. Wave 2
  4. Wave 1
  5. Publications
  6. Access to Data

Background

The Healthy Ireland Survey is an annual survey of the health and wellbeing of the population, furnishing data which provide an up-to-date picture of the nation’s health. This data is used to support the development and implementation of a number of policies and plans under the Healthy Ireland Framework.

Over 7,500 people aged 15 years and over have participated in each of the three waves of the survey, which has been carried out by Ipsos MRBI on behalf of the Department. The first wave was carried out during 2014/2015 and a report of its findings published in October 2015. The second wave was carried out during 2015/16 and a report of its findings published in October 2016. The third wave was carried out between 2016/17 and its findings published in October 2017.

Wave 3

The third wave of the survey of 7,500 people aged 15 and over living in Ireland reports again on lifestyle behaviours such as smoking, alcohol consumption, diet, and sexual health. The 2017 survey  additionally looks at public attitudes and understanding on topics such as breastfeeding and antibiotic use.  Also in this report, data from three waves have been combined to look at health behaviours among young people aged 15 to 24 years.

Some key findings from the third wave of the survey include:

Smoking:

  • 22% are current smokers; down from 23% last year
  • About a third of men and women aged 25-34 are smokers
  • Over half (56%) of young smokers want to quit
  • More health professionals, in particular dentists, are advising smokers to quit
  • Overall, smoking rates are falling, more people getting help to quit, Tobacco Free Ireland action plan and its implementation are beginning to have the desired effect

Obesity:

  • Almost two thirds (62%) are overweight or obese
  • Nearly half (49%) of those who are overweight or obese are trying to lose weight
  • Just over one third (37%) eat five or more portions of fruit and vegetables each day

Breastfeeding:

  • Nearly half (49%) of those with children said one of their children was breast fed
  • Breastfeeding differs by education: three quarters (74%) with a third level degree compared to a third (34%) of those who left school before Leaving Cert said one of their children was breast fed

STI/HIV Testing:

  • Over a fifth of the population has had a HIV  and STI/STD test during lifetime
  • Key groups for targeted testing are young adults (less than 35) and men who have sex with men who are more likely to have had a HIV or STI test

Health behaviours in young people:

  • Recruitment of young smokers continues: almost 1 in five young people smoke
  • Just over half (53%) binge drink
  • About a third are overweight or obese

For a copy of the report see Publications below.

Wave 2

The second annual Healthy Ireland Survey of 7,500 people aged 15 and over living in Ireland reported on lifestyle behaviours such as smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, diet and mental health. A number of new topics were included, examining additional aspects of health behaviours and issues such as multiple risk factors and knowledge and attitudes about health behaviours.

The survey showed that of the four types of unhealthy behaviours under consideration, the most common was that almost three-quarters (73%) of the population eat fewer than five portions of fruit and vegetables daily. Between a fifth and a third of the population have each of the other three behaviours – binge drinking (28%), sedentary behaviour (26%) and smoking (23%)

Some headline findings from the second wave of the survey include:

  • The majority (55%) of men who drink, consume six or more standard drinks (“binge drink”) on a typical drinking occasion while fewer than 1 in 5 (18%) women drink to this level
  • 23% of the population are current smokers
  • Just 27% eat five portions of fruit and vegetables daily
  • 14% consume sugar sweetened drinks daily, rising to 22% of those aged 15 to 24
  • People spend 6 hours and 36 minutes sitting on an average day and while men generally spend longer sitting than women, younger women spend more time sitting than men of the same age
  • 20% of those not in a relationship with their most recent sexual partner did not use any form of contraception
  • 84% of people living in Ireland say their health is very good or good although 28% indicate that they have a long-standing illness or health condition
  • 92% indicate that they would like to make a change to improve their health and wellbeing
  • The most common change that people would like to make is to be more physically active (40%), followed by being more financially secure (31%), sleeping better (30%) and eating more healthily (29%)
  • 72% have visited a GP in the past 12 months, with an average of 4.5 visits per person among all aged 15 and older
  • 12% have visited an Emergency Department in the past 12 months
  • Men reported higher positive mental health scores than women (69.8 and 65.9 respectively)
  • Four types of unhealthy behaviours were included in this analysis. These were smoking, binge drinking, consuming less than five portions of fruit or vegetables daily, spending eight or more hours a day sitting (sedentary behaviour)
  • Over eight in ten (86%) in the population have at least one unhealthy behaviour, with approximately half (46%) having multiple (two or more) unhealthy behaviours

For a copy of the report see Publications below.

Wave 1

Wave 1 of the survey was the first national survey of the nation’s health in eight years. It reported on smoking, alcohol, physical activity, diet & nutrition, weight management, social connectedness, wellbeing, dementia, sexual health and general health.

Some headline findings from the first wave of the survey include:

  • Fewer than 1 in 5 people now smoke.
  • 85% have good health but 28% have a long-standing condition.
  • Obesity is levelling out but 60% of people still overweight.
  • Two thirds of people are not getting enough exercise.
  • Four out of ten people binge when drinking.
  • Most people eat fruit and veg daily but 26% eat recommended 5 portions.
  • 17% did not use any form of contraception outside of a steady relationship.
  • Almost half the population is in a social club or organisation.
  • Good levels of mental health but better among men than women.
  • 50% of people know someone with dementia.

For a copy of the report see Publications below.

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Publications

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Access to Data

The Department of Health is committed to making data available from the Healthy Ireland Survey, via the following methods:

Wave 1
An Anonymised Microdata File (AMF) for Wave 1 is deposited in the Irish Social Science Data Archive (ISSDA) and is available for research and teaching purposes subject to the ISSDA End User Licence Agreement.

The Researcher Microdata File (RMF) for Wave 1 is now available for research and teaching purposes subject to the approval of the Department of Health.  Requests for access to RMF(s) must be made using the Healthy Ireland Survey RMF application form.

Details of the application process and relevant documentation are available below. Please email Healthy Ireland with any queries: healthyireland@health.gov.ie

Policy on access to the Healthy Ireland RMF
Healthy Ireland – Research Microdata File – Application Form
Standard agreement template

Wave 2
An Anonymised Microdata File (AMF) for Wave 2 will shortly be deposited in the Irish Social Science Data Archive (ISSDA) and will be available for research and teaching purposes subject to the ISSDA End User Licence Agreement. Please check back for updates.

Access to the Researcher Microdata File (RMF) for Wave 2 will be made available in the near future. Please check back for updates.

Wave 3
An Anonymised Microdata File (AMF) for Wave 3 will   be deposited in due course in the Irish Social Science Data Archive (ISSDA) and will be available for research and teaching purposes subject to the ISSDA End User Licence Agreement. Please check back for updates.

Please check back for updates on access to the Researcher Microdata File (RMF) for Wave 3.

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Here is a video taken at the launch of the results from the first wave.

Photos from the launch of the Healthy Ireland Survey

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