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Healthy Ireland Survey 2023

23 November 2023

Healthy Ireland survey 2023

Healthy Ireland Survey 2023

Minister for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy, Hildegarde Naughton, T.D., Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler, T.D and Chief Medical Officer Professor Breda Smyth, today launched the Healthy Ireland Survey, 2023.

The survey reveals:

  • 86% report their quality of life as ‘good’ or ‘very good’
  • Alcohol consumption levels have decreased
  • Use of e-cigarettes has increased
  • Post-pandemic increase in the use of antibiotics
  • Increase in health service utilisation

The survey found that the prevalence of smoking is stable, the same as reported in 2021 - 2022. 18% of people are current smokers, 14% smoke daily and 4% smoke occasionally. This is a significant reduction from 2015, when 23% smoked. 8% of the population now use e-cigarettes. While e-cigarettes can be a valuable quit aid for smokers, usage rates have risen from 6% last year and are highest amongst 15-24 year-olds (used by 20% of women and 16% of men in this age group).

The proportion of the population consuming alcohol in the previous 12 months is 70%, a reduction on the 75% reported in 2018. Almost a quarter (24%) of the population are considered binge drinkers (drinking six or more standard drinks on a typical drinking occasion). Again, this rate remains lower than in 2018 (27%).

The 2023 Survey found that 86% report their quality of life as ‘good’ or ‘very good’, with just 5% saying that their quality of life is ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’. The average 2023 Energy and Vitality Index (EVI) score, with higher scores indicating positive mental health, is 65.3. This has increased from 62.4 in 2021 but remains below levels measured in 2016 (67.8).  Conversely, the average Mental Health Index (MHI-5) score in 2023 (where lower scores indicate possible mental ill-health), is 78.2, an improvement on 76.0 in 2021, but higher than the pre-pandemic measurement of 81.2 in 2016.

Over one third (35%) say they feel more socially connected since 2021, with 22% reporting feeling less socially connected and 43% reporting no change.

It should be noted that the Healthy Ireland Survey is a representative study - while the proportions of each age group using our primary and acute health services may not have changed much, increases in both overall population numbers and the proportion of older people (as reported in Census 2022), means that the total number of appointments, attendances and admissions have increased and that pressure on the healthcare system is rising.

41% of the population report taking an antibiotic in the last 12 months, significantly higher than the 27% reported during the pandemic in 2021, and 2% higher than the proportion in 2017. 78% correctly agreed that antibiotics kill bacteria and 59% understood that antibiotics do not kill viruses.

The data from Healthy Ireland Surveys is used to underpin policy development and implementation, to monitor, measure and evaluate progress in implementing various elements of the Healthy Ireland Framework, as well as to meet many international reporting obligations, including to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development the European Union and the World Health Organisation.

The Healthy Ireland Survey report 2023 and the summary of findings are available here