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Health and Disability

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‘Rural areas with high urban influence’ most likely to have ‘very good’ health

More than half (59.4%) of people described their general health as ‘very good’ in 2016 while 1.6% said it was ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’. ‘Rural areas with high urban influence’ had the highest rates with ‘very good’ health at 64.0% and the lowest rate of ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’ health at 1.2%. The lowest rates with ‘very good’ health were in ‘Independent urban towns’ at 55.2% while these areas also had the highest proportion with ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’ health at 2.0%.

This section of text was updated on 18/12/2019 to correctly reflect that the population in 'Independent urban towns' had the lowest proportion with 'very good health' among the six urban/rural area types.

6.1 General Health by 6-way area classification, 2011-2016

'Independent urban towns' had the highest rate of the population with a disability

The proportion of the population with a disability was 13.6% in Ireland in 2016 but this varied from 15.4% in ‘Independent urban towns’ to 11.9% in ‘rural areas with high urban influence’.

The largest gender gap was in ‘Cities’, where 14.5% of females and 13.4% of males had a disability.

Satellite urban towns12.411.9
Independent urban towns15.615.1
Rural areas with high urban influence11.911.9
Rural areas with moderate urban influence1313
Highly rural/remote areas15.114.9
6.2 Population usually resident and present with a disability by sex and 6-way classification, 2016

Disability rate higher in urban areas than 'Highly rural/remote areas' despite higher proportion of over 65's

Nationally, 35.5% of people aged 65 and over had a disability in 2016, with the highest proportion of 39.3% in ‘Independent urban towns’, (see Figure 6.2).

Despite a higher proportion of persons aged 65 years and over living in 'Highly rural/ remote areas' (rate at 19.1%, see Table 2.4 in 'Age, Sex, and Geographical Distribution') a lower rate of disability was observed (34.3% signalled at least one disability) than in any of the three urban areas. The proportion of persons aged 65 and over in 'Cities', 'Satellite urban towns' and 'Independent urban towns' were 12.6%, 9.6% and 12.9% respectively. The respective disability rates for each area, for this age cohort, were 37.5%, 35.2% and 39.3%.

0 - 14 years15 - 24 years25 - 44 years45 - 64 years65 years and over
Satellite urban towns5.87530938529.72621837278.63099432615.539729109335.1804663502
Independent urban towns6.283579145210.429116445510.321876202720.194248826339.2678718324
Rural areas with high urban influence5.55337083458.55314240087.821095938312.675020266832.1185462362
Rural areas with moderate urban influence5.66487914828.61710233278.166700853713.954317208432.2833098661
Highly rural/remote areas5.61053265649.1420319039.000460025915.595819185134.278612013

'Difficulty with pain, breathing, or any other chronic illness or condition' most common disability in all but one area type

The most common type of disability according to Census 2016 was 'difficulty with pain, breathing, or any other chronic illness or condition' (46.2%). This was true for all area types except 'Highly rural/remote areas' where a greater proportion of people experienced 'difficulty which limits basic physical activities such as walking, climbing stairs, reaching, lifting or carrying' (46.1%), see Table 6.3 for more details.

6.3 Population usually resident and present with a disability by type of disability, sex, and 6-way area classification, 2016

Persons resident in 'Independent urban towns' and 'Highly rural/remote areas' most likely to hold medical cards       

'Highly rural/remote areas' had the highest proportion of medical card holders in 2016, at 44.8%, followed closely by 'Independent urban towns' at 44.7%. 'Rural areas with high urban influence' had the lowest proportion at 26.4%, while the State average was 33.5%, see Table 6.4 and Figure 6.3. Note that Medical Card Holders included anyone (excluding GP Visit Card Holders) eligible under the General Medical Services Scheme on Census Night 2016, see Appendix 1: Data Sources and Appendix 2: Definitions and Notes for further details.

Proportion of persons holding a medical card (%)
Satellite urban towns28.7
Independent urban towns44.7
Rural areas with high urban influence26.4
Rural areas with moderate urban influence34.7
Highly rural/remote areas44.8
6.4 Proportion of medical card holders by area type, 2016

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