Sat, 22 Jan 2022

Health Survey (NI): First Results 2020/21

Northern Ireland Executive
02 Dec 2021, 22 GMT+10

The Department of Health today published the "Health Survey (NI): First Results 2020/21" report and accompanying trend tables.

The Health Survey (NI) has run annually, on a continuous basis, since 2010/11. The 2020/21 survey included questions relating to general health, mental health and wellbeing, smoking and drinking alcohol. The sample size for the survey was 1,408 individuals aged 16 and over.


Impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on data collection:

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, data collection for the 2020/21 Health Survey Northern Ireland moved from face-to-face interviewing to telephone mode. This change may have altered how people responded to the survey.

The achieved response rate on the survey in telephone mode was lower compared with the normal face-to-face mode. This has reduced the number of cases at household and individual levels. The precision of the survey estimates in the 2020-21 year is thus reduced compared to previous years.

The demographic profile of the achieved sample has changed in comparison with previous years including more of an under-representation of people aged 16-44 and there are fewer households from the most deprived areas and more households from the least deprived areas.

Any changes within the 2020-21 data compared to previous years have to be considered in the context of all of the above. Caution should be taken in reaching any conclusions based on 2020-21 data and comparisons with previous years as the findings may not be directly comparable with previous years.

Please note that this report is based on findings for 2020/21 and as such, individual responses to some behavioural, attitudinal and health related questions may also be impacted to a degree by which Government restrictions were in place for the pandemic at the time the interviews took place. As interviews were carried out across the period June 2020 to March 2021, the figures in the report can be regarded as a representative average across the whole year.

Further details on these changes can be found in a document published alongside this bulletin, titled 'Health Survey Northern Ireland 2020/21 - Things users need to know'.


Key Findings:


  • Four-fifths of respondents (79%) described their health as being good or very good.
  • Two-fifths of respondents (41%) reported having a longstanding physical or mental health condition; this increased with age from 27% of those aged 16-24 to 69% of those aged 75 and over.
  • Less than a third (29%) of respondents have a long-standing illness that reduces their ability to carry out day-to-day activities (similar to 2019/20).
  • Around a quarter (27%) of respondents had a high GHQ12 score, which could indicate a mental health problem (23% males; 30% females).  This was significantly higher than in 2019/20 (19% overall; 18% males and 21% females).
  • Almost two-fifths (38%) of respondents reported having concerns about their own mental health in the past year (17% definitely; 21% to some extent).  This was significantly higher than in 2018/19 (27% overall; 12% definitely and 15% to some extent).
  • Over a quarter of respondents (27%) exhibited signs of loneliness by scoring highly on the UCLA loneliness scale. Respondents living in the most deprived areas (38%) were more likely to show signs of loneliness than those living in all other areas (20-26%).
  • 12% of adults smoked cigarettes (down from 17% in 2019/20).  Smoking prevalence has fallen from 24% in 2010/11. Smoking prevalence in the most deprived areas (22%) was around three times that in the least deprived areas (7%).
  • A small proportion of respondents (5%) reported that they currently use electronic cigarettes (similar to 2019/20).
  • Four-fifths (81%) of adults aged 18 and over reported that they drank alcohol.  This was higher than in 2019/20 (77%).  A quarter (26%) of male drinkers reported drinking on three or more days per week, while this was true for 15% of females.  This was higher than in 2019/20 for both males (19%) and females (10%).
  • Of respondents who had been in contact with the health and social care system in the last year, 85% were either very satisfied or satisfied with their experience, while around a tenth (9%) were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.

This publication is a summary of the main topics included in the 2020/21 Health Survey. Further bulletins and tables will be made available on the Health Survey page on the Departmental website.

More Belfast News

Access More

Sign up for Belfast News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!