Press Release from the Northern Ireland Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, on latest bulletin released as part of the Northern Ireland Health and Social Well Being Survey 2001
LSE Health and Social Care
26th April 2002
HEALTH SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS LINK BETWEEN SOCIO-ECONOMIC STATUS AND POOR HEALTH
"Although our health has improved greatly over the past century, it needs to improve further. Compared to other countries in Europe, too many of us suffer unnecessarily from poor health," said the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Ms Bairbre de Brún, MLA today.
The Minister was commenting on the findings of the fourth bulletin, covering general health and ill health issues, produced from the Northern Ireland Health and Social Well-being Survey 2001.
Overall, the survey revealed that 52% of people here said their health had been 'good' in the previous 12 months; 31% said it was 'fairly good' and 17% said it was 'not good'.
In particular the Minister stressed the link between socio-economic grouping, employment status and health and well being, "This survey provides further evidence of the link between unemployment, socio-economic status and health. A large proportion of unnecessary disease and poor health appears to be determined by social and economic inequalities which result in an unacceptable health gap between rich and poor. This needs to be urgently addressed."
The survey revealed that the proportion of people whose health was not good in the previous 12 months was highest in the unskilled socio-economic group (SEG) (25%) and lowest in the professional/managerial group SEG (11%). Respondents who were economically inactive were almost 5 times as likely as those in employment to have said their health was not good in the previous 12 months.
In particular those who reported suffering from a limiting long-standing illness was highest in the unskilled SEG (36%) and lowest in the professional/ managerial SEG (19%).
Those in employment were less likely to have a limiting long-standing illness (10%) than respondents who were unemployed (33%) or economically inactive (47%). Additionally, 15% of respondents in employment had been informed by a health professional that they had high blood pressure, compared with 22% of those who were unemployed and 35% of those who were economically inactive.
The Minister added, "The Investing for Health Strategy, which I recently launched on behalf of the Executive, aims to address the wider social and economic determinants of poor health which have been highlighted by this survey."
Investing for Health is a cross departmental, multi-sectoral framework for action to improve health and well-being here which focuses in particular on the sources of good health and on inequalities in health.
The Minister continued, "I believe Investing for Health provides us with a real opportunity to improve the health of all our people, particularly the most disadvantaged who suffer the worst health, and we all have a part to play in making it happen."
NOTES TO EDITORS:
The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety commissioned the Central Survey Unit of the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, an Agency within the Department of Finance and Personnel, to conduct a survey on the health and well being of the Northern Ireland population.
The survey covered a broad range of issues relating to health and well being including general health, mental health, smoking, drinking, sexual health and physical activity. This report describes the results from the general health section of the second Northern Ireland Health and Social Well being Survey. This survey is designed to yield a representative sample of all adults aged 16 and over living in Northern Ireland.
A total of 5,000 addresses were issued to a panel of NISRA interviewers on a monthly basis between February and July 2001. In each household contacted, all persons aged 16 and over were asked to take part in the survey. From the allocated sample of 5,000 addresses, a total of 5,205 full or proxy interviews were obtained.
A top line bulletin containing a summary of the survey results was published in December 2001. Additional bulletins have been produced to look at the specific topics of physical activity, mental health and general health in more detail, while other bulletins covering sexual health and smoking and drinking are planned over the next few months.
The bulletin on general health and ill health focuses on 9 main areas: general health, long standing illness, high blood pressure, circulatory illness, asthma and diabetes, respondents diagnosed with angina, respondents diagnosed with asthma, back pain, and musculoskeletal conditions. Each topic area has been analysed by a number of background variables such as age, sex, socio-economic group and marital status.
It should be highlighted that some of the respondents classified as 'economically inactive' may have been out of work due to ill health. This may also be the case when talking about those with a limiting long standing illness. For additional copies of this bulletin, please contact:
Central Survey Unit
2-14 Castle Street
Belfast BT1 1SA
Tel: (028) 9034 8244
Fax: (028) 9034 8205 Alternatively, visit the NISRA website www.nisra.gov.uk or the DHSSPS website www.dhsspsni.gov.uk The final Investing for Health Strategy paper was launched by the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety on 27 March 2002. It is available by contacting the Investing for Health Team on telephone 028 90520721 or e-mail [log in to unmask] The Strategy can also be downloaded from the Department's website at www.dhsspsni.gov.uk