‘One Island – One Lifestyle?’ Health and lifestyles in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland: Comparing the population surveys SLÁN 2007 and NIHSWS 2005

2 Feb 2009

INTRODUCTION

 The aim of this report is to provide a profile of lifestyles, health attitudes and behaviours, together with activities that promote or damage health, in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Regular monitoring of the population in these regions provides essential information for planning and policy regarding population health. Comparisons of present and previous study findings in a given population, and of findings in complementary settings, contribute significantly to our understanding of contemporary trends and the potential effects of interventions. Comparisons between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have a unique value because of the many similarities and differences between the two parts of the island. However, such comparisons are seldom undertaken. This report takes the opportunity to compare two population surveys – the 2007 Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition (SLÁN) conducted in the Republic of Ireland and the 2005 Northern Ireland Health and Social Well-being Survey (NIHSWS) conducted in Northern Ireland.

SLÁN 2007 involved 10,364 respondents in the Republic of Ireland (RoI). Fieldwork was conducted from November 2006 to October 2007, and involved face-to-face interviews with adults aged 18 years and older at home addresses. The response rate to the survey was 62%.

NIHSWS 2005 involved 4,245 respondents in Northern Ireland (NI). Fieldwork was conducted from February 2005 to March 2006 and involved face-to-face interviews with people aged 16 years and older at home addresses. The response rate to the survey was 66%.

 In order to compare the two surveys more directly, only those NIHSWS 2005 respondents aged 18 years and older (N = 4,145) are included for comparison with SLÁN 2007 respondents.

The findings from both surveys are analysed by gender, age and social class for this comparative report.

Direct comparison of estimates are done so tentatively and are mainly useful in examining how responses vary within each jurisdiction by gender, age and social class. Comparison on some topics is difficult due to differences in the design of SLÁN 2007 and NIHSWS 2005, including the order and wording of questions and, in some instances, differences in response categories. Where relevant, differences are noted and cautions provided.

 The statistical significance levels reported with the results of multivariate analysis should not be overstated. Since there was a large number of respondents (RoI: 10,364; NI: 4,145), the power of the statistical procedures means that even small percentage differences could be statistically significant. The comparisons between demographic breakdowns are likely to be more meaningful than direct comparisons of estimates.

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Minister for Health and Children
Citation for this resource: 
Ward, M., McGee, H., Morgan, K., Van Lente, E., Layte, R., Barry, M., Watson, D., Shelley, E. and Perry, I. (2009) SLÁN 2007: Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition in Ireland. ‘One Island – One Lifestyle?’ Health and lifestyles in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland: Comparing the population surveys SLÁN 2007 and NIHSWS 2005, Department of Health and Children. Dublin: The Stationery Office.
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