Last year, we published our first-ever National Health Watch Report that provided the Irish public with insights into the state of health in Ireland. This March, we ran our second annual health survey to take a look at a number of pressing health-related issues that Ireland is facing right now. With feedback from 1400+ participants, our 2023 National Health Watch Report unveils key insights into physical, mental, and environmental health trends experienced by the Irish public.
The latest National Health Watch Report, compiled by the Webdoctor.ie team, delves into a variety of areas, including physical health, menstrual health, smoking, and mental health in Ireland. In addition, the report explores the accessibility of healthcare in Ireland and our attitudes towards digital healthcare services.
As mentioned above, the report explores menstrual health – a topic that concerns roughly half of Ireland’s population but is not spoken about too often due to long-standing stigma.
According to this survey’s findings, 85% of those who menstruate have experienced period pain, with 75% (three in four people) confirming that they have had to limit their daily activities on various occasions due to period-related symptoms. Almost half (48%) of those who experience a menstrual cycle say that they have been forced to cancel plans and social events in the past due to these symptoms.
Participation in sports is also significantly impacted with over 40% (43%) saying that they avoid playing sports and doing physical activities due to period pain. Workplace, school, and university attendance has also suffered due to period-related symptoms or illnesses with one-third (33%) of those who menstruate confirming that they have missed at least one of the above due to their period.
Smoking and Vaping
In our National Health Watch survey, we also looked at vaping, another health-related issue that we’re facing in Ireland. However, despite the increased presence of vaping in society today, our survey found that more than seven in ten (71%) say that they never smoke nicotine products, including cigarettes, e-cigarettes or vapes.
This result is surprisingly positive given the rise in concern regarding the usage of high-nicotine disposable vapes, particularly in the younger generation. Of those who do use nicotine products, 42% consider vaping and e-cigarettes just as harmful to their health as smoking tobacco cigarettes.
Similar to the 2022 results, our health and wellbeing survey revealed that the majority of people (91%) plan to prioritise their physical health over the next six months, with 88% of those surveyed already considering themselves healthy. The number of people opting to improve their physical health through the outdoors has grown significantly since last year with 78% of people choosing to spend more time exercising in nature in 2023 compared to just 30% in 2022.
Almost seven in ten (68%) plan to engage with a professional to boost their physical health and 40% are choosing to join a gym and work with a personal trainer. Almost 20% (18%) plan to engage with a nutritionist to create healthy eating habits and 10% would like to work with a medical professional to manage their weight and overall physical health.
Mental Health and Wellbeing
According to our health and wellness survey, over three-quarters of respondents (77%) are intending to prioritise their mental health in the next six months. This is an encouraging result after last year’s National Health Watch Report revealed that 40% of respondents confirmed that their mental health had suffered due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Similar to last year, almost 40% will continue to talk to family and friends more to improve their mental health. Interestingly, 60% intend to use self-help tools or apps for mindfulness or meditation this year. This rise shows an increased trust and reliance people have developed on technology to help aid their mental health.
Accessibility Of Healthcare Services And Attitudes Towards Telehealth
According to the findings of our national health survey in Ireland, many have limited access to in-person GP clinics with 66% of respondents saying that they still find it difficult to access traditional GP consultations. Nine out of ten of which stated that this is due to a lack of availability. 55% of respondents said that their main reason for using an online GP service is that it is more cost-effective than an in-person GP appointment and almost half (47%) say that using an online GP is quicker and more efficient.
Interestingly, 61% of participants said that they are more comfortable having an online GP consultation rather than an in-person consultation, particularly in relation to sexual health and wellbeing with 83% of people saying that they feel more comfortable seeking sexual health advice from an online GP service. Over three-quarters, (77%) of people would choose an online consultation over an in-person appointment for weight management services.
Webdoctor.Ie Comments On The Findings Of Our Annual Irish Health Survey
Commenting on these findings, Ian Kennedy, Chief Marketing Officer at Webdoctor.ie, says, “It’s clear from the results of the National Health Watch Report that there has been a continued shift towards spending more time outdoors and in nature to improve our physical health. While physical health is important, it is also imperative that we look after our mental health. With this in mind, I thought it was interesting to see such a significant percentage of people choosing to use self-help tools and apps to support mindfulness and mental health purposes. It’s also encouraging to see that there is still such a positive attitude towards online GP services as this means telehealth providers, like Webdoctor.ie, can continue to facilitate patients, particularly when our bricks-and-mortar medical services might need some support.”