The 12th Pfizer Health Index, an annual survey which charts the health perceptions, attitudes and behaviours of Irish adults, was today launched at the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin.
Focusing this year on the theme of workplace health, the findings of the Index were discussed by guest speakers, Prof. Anne Drummond, Director of the UCD Centre for Workplace Safety and Health, Kate O’Flaherty, Director of the Health and Wellbeing Programme at the Department of Health and Health Index Ambassador, former Rose of Tralee and Startup Founder Maria Walsh. Paul Reid, Managing Director of Pfizer Ireland presented the findings to an audience of healthcare and employment-related associations and stakeholder groups.
The Pfizer Health Index is a national study of health and wellness, and focuses on topics such as attitudes and perception of health, disease incidence, illness experience and impact, health funding, interaction with medical services and levels of health insurance. This year’s findings demonstrated that:
- The majority of people surveyed (63%) rate their health as 8 out of 10 or higher with 14% giving their health a score of 10 out of 10;
- Key personal priorities for Irish people continue to be family health and wellbeing, personal health and financial health;
- The volume of people holding a medical card dropped just one point from 2016 to 42%. Numbers of medical card holders in Ireland first began to increase in 2010 and remain at recessionary levels.
- In terms of medical insurance levels, 26% of people of those surveyed have neither private medical insurance or a medical card;
- Engagement with medical professions is relatively high with 30% of those surveyed having visited their GP in the last month, and 41% having attended a screening in the last year;
- Irish people view the greatest priorities for Government spending as – 1. health (75%), 2. education (50%)and 3. job creation (30%).
Each year, the Pfizer Health Index focuses on a particular topic and this year, the topic of health in the workplace was chosen. The survey asked questions such as how workers feel about health and wellbeing, how stressful their jobs are and how and whether employers in Ireland prioritise workplace health.
In terms of workplace health, the Pfizer Health Index found that:
- 80% of Irish workers feel they have a good work/life balance and 88% of people find the content their job interesting;
- The vast majority of people say they have a good relationship with colleagues with 92% of those surveyed giving their work relationships a ranking of between 3 and 5;
- The average number of sick days per year is 3.56;
- In relation to disease incidence, 27% of those working have a health condition – high cholesterol, high/low blood pressure, asthma, chronic pain and arthritis are the most common conditions;
- Workplace stress is an issue in Ireland with 62% reporting moderately to very stressful work environments;
- The majority of people (75%) have never discussed a health issue with their employer, citing a lack of understanding/ability to support as the main concern in doing so. For those who did speak to an employer about their health, the vast majority (80%) found their response to be good or excellent;
- 17% of those surveyed have their private health insurance paid for in full by their employer;
- 51% have flexible working options – they can start early, finish early, make the most of flexi-time and job-sharing options.
Unveiling the Pfizer Health Index findings, Paul Reid, Managing Director of Pfizer Ireland said, “Each year, the Pfizer Health Index shines a light on a new aspect of health policy. This year, as the economy recovers and employment levels continue to rise, it is timely to be focusing on workplace health and to ask questions of employers and employees – as one of Ireland’s largest private sector employers, at Pfizer we are pleased to participate in the conversation. Against a backdrop of economic renewal, it is also noteworthy, that again in 2017, the survey shows that people view health as the greatest priority area for Government spending.”
Kate O’Flaherty, Director of the Health and Wellbeing Programme at the Department of Health, said, “We know work is good for our health and the workplace is recognised internationally as a priority setting for promoting and improving health and wellbeing. Healthy Ireland is currently developing a national Healthy Workplace Framework, which aims to maximize the opportunity this presents to improve the health of a large part of our population. Building a workplace culture which values health and wellbeing will be of benefit to all sectors.”
Professor Anne Drummond, Director of the UCD Centre for Safety and Health at Work, said, “The majority of adults spend so much of their time at work that protecting and promoting the health of the working age population can only be good for individuals, organisations and ultimately the economy, thereby benefiting every citizen. The Pfizer Health Index results highlight areas of their health that are of concern to Irish workers. These results are timely in the context of the current development of a national Healthy Workplaces framework as part of the national Healthy Ireland goal, and confirm that workers see the value of good health.”
Health Index Ambassador, Maria Walsh said, “As workers, we are continually tackling challenging phases in our professional lives – while also managing our personal lives. The Pfizer Health Index has shared insights into how we need to collectively start taking accountability for sustaining and also further developing workplaces driven by employee wellbeing. This has particularly been shown to be the case for the 30+ age bracket. While I am a ‘newbie’ to the 30+ group, I am not new to the conversations on the importance of a healthy work/life balance. It is essential we all push towards and promote these conversations at work.”