2013 Pfizer Health Index Finds Austerity and Recession Affecting Ireland’s Health

2013 Pfizer Health Index Finds Austerity and Recession Affecting Ireland’s Health

Hurling Legend DJ Carey Urges People To Focus On Minding Their Health

2013 Pfizer Health Index Finds Austerity and Recession Affecting Ireland’s Health

17th September 2013 - Results of this year’s Pfizer Health Index reveal the impact that the recession is having on people’s health. The Pfizer Health Index, now in its eighth year, details the findings of a nationally representative quantitative market research survey of the health and well-being of the Irish population.

90% of people agree that depression, anxiety and mental health issues have increased since the recession. When asked in what ways has depression or mental health affected your or your extended family, the top two impacts are in relation to finances being affected and not being able to work. 36% say it caused divisions in the family; 34% say it caused other physical illnesses and about a quarter said that it caused relationship or marital difficulties. There is also significant concern around the impact of social media, with three quarters agreeing that modern technology and social media can be detrimental to young people’s health. Interestingly 45% of those with a child under 16 in the home strongly agree with this statement.

Speaking at the launch of the 2013 Pfizer Health Index, legendary hurler DJ Carey discussed his own health experience. He said “Despite being physically healthy for years as part of the senior Kilkenny hurling team, I experienced some health scares of my own last year and no doubt the stress and pressure that I was under at the time contributed to them. Thankfully I was treated successfully for both conditions and I’m feeling great today but I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to look after your health, and in particular your mental health.”

Since 2010, the Index has tracked changes in relation to private health insurance and medical cards which have seen major changes since the recession began. 2013 shows a further decrease in the number of people with insurance down 1% on 2012 to 34%, but down from 44% in 2010. While we saw an increase in the number of people with medical cards from 2010 to 2012, this has arrested and the 2013 level is now back at the 2011 level at 41%. However, the net impact of a continued fall in insurance, coupled with decreasing medical card provision means a further rise in people with no cover and in 2013 this has reached 27% which equates with 950,000 people, the highest since we began looking at this issue four years ago.

Also speaking at the launch Professor Charles Normand, Edward Kennedy Chair of Health Policy and Management at Trinity College Dublin said “International evidence has shown that countries in recession can experience a significant impact on the health of their citizens with additional strains on their health systems. While there are signs that Ireland is slowly coming out of this recession, there is still immense pressure on government to make savings on health budgets and reduce costs while maintaining an effective and efficient health service.”

Dr. Claire Hayes, Clinical Director of Aware added “I would urge anybody experiencing anxiety as a result of financial difficulties, job loss or indeed any kind of stress, to talk to someone who can help, be that a health professional or a support organisation such as Aware. Financial difficulties can seem overwhelming and it is important to access support for both strands – the mental health impact and also the financial issues themselves. Many agencies including Aware provide free, accessible supports including programmes based on cognitive behavioural therapy that can encourage people to focus on helpful actions they can take in order to make a difference to their situation.” On a positive note, almost a third of those affected by depression (30%) claimed that it brought the family closer together.

“The increase in people with neither health insurance nor medical card cover is a concern. This is of enormous public and personal significance, as an increasing number of people are vulnerable at times of ill health and sickness and the continued decline in private insurance increases pressure on public health expenditure,” ” said Mr Paul Reid, Managing Director, Pfizer Healthcare Ireland.

About the Pfizer Health Index

The basic sample for this survey is 1,003 adults aged 16+, and the sample is quota controlled to ensure a precise representation of the adult population aged 16 and over in respect of key demographic parameters. These quotas relate to gender, age group, socio-economic status, region and area of residence (whether urban or rural). The questionnaire is included on one of Behaviour & Attitudes’ fortnightly Barometer surveys, and each of these is identically structured to enable the undertaking of directly comparable studies and the tracking of attitudes and opinions. Fieldwork on each survey is completed at 63 randomly selected sampling locations, with each interviewer being assigned a demographic quota for his or her sampling point. The sampling locations are randomised but a specified number are completed within each region. A set proportion of men and women are interviewed at each location and additionally controls are used in relation to age group and socio-economic status. When the data from each of the 63 sampling locations is accumulated the survey identically mirrors the structure of the national adult population. Interviewing is undertaken face-to-face and in-home. Fieldwork for the 2013 Index was carried out between May and June 2013.

Published: 17th September 2013.

« Return to the News section