Home > Physical and mental health in post-recession Ireland: a community study.

Sorin, Gabriela M and Darker, Catherine and Whiston, Lucy and Donnelly-Swift, Erica and Barry, Joseph and Kelly, Brendan D (2018) Physical and mental health in post-recession Ireland: a community study. Dublin: The Meath Foundation.

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What we set out to do

We set out to ask people living in Tallaght, a socio-economically deprived suburb of Dublin, Ireland, about their physical and mental health. This was the largest survey of physical and mental health in Ireland since the end of Ireland’s economic recession (2008-2013) and was funded by the Meath Foundation.

How we did it

We conducted a house-to-house survey in 351 randomly selected households in Tallaght. We asked detailed questions about the physical and mental health of all residents.

What we found

The proportion of people rating their health as ‘very good’ or ‘good’ in Tallaght is 72%, unchanged from a similar survey in 2014 (71%) and still significantly below the national figure (84%). The proportions of people in full-time employment (34%) and with private health insurance (34%) increased since 2014 (from 24% and 14% respectively), reflecting improved financial circumstances for some households. A majority of people (61%) report stress over the past 12 months, with a higher rate in areas of higher (67%) compared to lower deprivation (55%). Over half of households in Tallaght (54%) include a person with chronic illness. Better self-reported health is associated with less stress, not living with a person with a chronic illness or disability, holding private health insurance, and greater education. Satisfaction with Tallaght University Hospital is very high and improving, increasing from 74% in 2014 to 86% in 2018.


Self-rated health has stabilised since the end of Ireland’s recession but not everyone has benefitted equally. Stress and psychological ill-health remain higher in areas of greater deprivation. Carer burden is now the single largest factor impacting on wellbeing.


Health and social policies aimed at increasing population wellbeing should focus on alleviating stress and carer burden, especially in deprived areas. There is a compelling need for universal access to high quality mental health services in primary care (GP) and secondary care (hospital and specialist clinics) in all communities. Future research should explore factors not considered in this study (e.g. drug misuse) and the positive role of community resources in supporting wellbeing and improving population health.

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