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Friday 24 February 2017

Poverty biggest factor in poor health

Only 1pc rate health as bad or very bad in trial run for national census

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

ONLY one in 100 people rate their health as bad or very bad, a major study has found.

The pilot census carried out by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed overall that 60pc of people believe their health is very good while 27pc rate it as good.

Only 8pc said their health was fair, while 1pc said their health was bad. Just 0.18pc rated it 'very bad', while the remainder did not answer the question.

The findings, obtained by the Irish Independent, have emerged in a pilot census conducted by the CSO among 24,000 people across the country.

The pilot "mini-census", conducted in 2009, tested the questions and methodology to be used in next month's national census, which will give the most comprehensive picture yet of the state of the nation.

However, the previously unpublished survey shows that a strong class divide still exists in how people view their health.

It found that 75pc of the top social class regard their health as very good.

But this rating drops to just 46pc for the poorest classes, while just 51pc of unskilled workers believe their health is very good.

For the first time the question "How is your health in general?" will be included in the census form, with different categories of possible answers ranging from 'very good' to 'very bad'.

The CSO is offering no guidance to people on how to answer the new question. "It is completely self-perceived," said a spokeswoman.

Wellbeing

Asking people how they rate their own wellbeing is recognised by organisations like the World Health Organisation as a valid method of assessing the health of the population, she added.

The pilot survey in 32 areas shows a huge gulf still exists between how the well-heeled and the least well-off perceive their health despite the years of near full employment and soaring investment in the health service.

However, age and social class remain two dominant influences on people's state of health.

Large regional variations emerged with 72pc of people in a part of Fingal in north Dublin saying their health was very good compared to 40pc in an urban area in Cork.

However, it is not possible to draw broad conclusions about geographic variations until data has been analysed from the full census.

The census form will also change the questions relating to disabilities, which means numbers recorded as having these conditions are likely to increase.

The pilot census showed the overall level of disability in the population has increased to 10.64pc, compared to 9.3pc in 2006.

Irish Independent

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