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Health Survey Northern Ireland 2012/13

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety published today its ‘Health Survey Northern Ireland 2012/13’ report.

The Health Survey Northern Ireland is conducted annually and covers a wide range of health topics. The 2012/13 survey included questions relating to general health, longstanding illness, smoking, alcohol, obesity, physical activity, child health, breastfeeding, skincare prevention, hospital visits, general practitioners, medicines and pharmacy management, sexual health and carbon monoxide and smoke alarms. 

Key Findings

The key findings of the report are as follows:

  • Almost three-quarters of respondents (72%) described their health as being good or very good while 9% said their health was bad or very bad.
  • Almost two-fifths of respondents (37%) reported having a longstanding illness, with almost three-quarters of these (72%) stating that it limited their activities to some extent.
  • Three-quarters of outpatients (72%) and inpatients (70%) thought they were admitted as soon as needed.
  • The majority of inpatients (88%), outpatients (87%) and patients who attended A&E (84%) rated their overall care as either excellent or good.
  • Three-quarters of those seeking an appointment within two days (75%) were able to get one.
  • Overall, 89% of respondents who had visited their GP within the last six months were fairly satisfied or very satisfied with the care they received.
  • Around four-fifths of respondents rated Health and Social Care Services as excellent or good in terms of safety (82%), patient experience (79%) and effectiveness (78%).
  • Almost one-quarter of respondents (24%) were current smokers (25% of males and 23% of females).
  • Smoking prevalence was higher in the most deprived areas (37%) than in the least deprived areas (12%).
  • Almost four-fifths of those surveyed (79%) aged 18 and over stated that they drank alcohol, while 15% said that they had never drank alcohol.
  • A quarter of adults (25%) were obese with a further two-fifths (37%) classed as overweight. Males (69%) were more likely than females (57%) to be overweight or obese.
  • Over half of respondents (53%) aged 19 and over met the new recommendations of 150 or more minutes of at least moderate exercise per week (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week).
  • Three-quarters of children aged 2-10 years old (75%) were either underweight or normal weight, while a fifth (19%) were overweight and 6% were classed as obese.

Notes to editors:

1. This bulletin presents the first results from the 2012/13 Health Survey Northern Ireland. This survey runs every year on a continuous basis 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 2012 to March 2013.
3. Data were collected using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) and where appropriate Computer Assisted Self Interviewing (CASI) from those aged 16 and above in private households in Northern Ireland.
4. A random sample of 5,850 addresses across Northern Ireland was selected for interviewing. The final achieved sample was 4,294 individuals. The response rate for the survey was 65%.
5. Unless otherwise specified, results relate to adults aged 16 and over.
6. The results presented in the bulletin are based on information that has been weighted by age and sex, in order to reflect the composition of the general population in Northern Ireland.
7. As the results are based on data collected from a sample of the population, they are subject to sampling error. In light of this, base numbers have been provided in the report so that confidence intervals can be calculated.
8. Measurements of height and weight were sought from individuals aged two and over in participating households. Data were obtained from 538 children aged 2 to 15 years and 3,280 adults aged 16 and above.
9. 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.
10. 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). 
11. In July 2011, the Chief Medical Officers of the four UK countries introduced revised guidelines for physical activity. Over a week, adults aged 19 and over should either aim to undertake 150 minutes of moderate intensity (e.g. golf, hill walking etc.) in bouts of 10 minutes or more, 75 minutes of vigorous activity (e.g. football, martial arts etc.) spread across the week or combinations of moderate and vigorous activity. In addition to this, it is recommended that adults should undertake muscle-strengthening physical activities at least twice a week. Respondents aged 65 and over that are at risk of falls are advised to undertake exercises for at least 10 minutes twice a week to improve their balance and coordination. 
12. 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. 
13. This publication is available online at: http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/stats-public-health

Belfast Telegraph