Area influences on health: does the extent of community or religious segregation matter?

Northern Ireland (NI) is a society spatially segregated along religious denomination lines. This study looks at some of the implications of this for population health in NI. In particular, the study examines (i) health outcomes associated with minority status for groups living within larger ‘other’ communities; and (ii) health outcomes associated with living as part of larger homogeneous communities which may have developed exclusionist social networks and mores – scenarios testable for both positive and negative health outcomes. More generally, while the immediate context for this study is NI, findings of this kind can have implications for the study of health in other minority populations. Indices of community composition will be derived quantifying the major religious denominations at area level.

These social settings will be examined in relation to both area characteristics (such as population density) and individual and household socio-demographic and socio-economic factors such as age, sex, marital status, economic position, and social class and measures of social deprivation. The study will focus mainly on the analysis of mortality, though will also include analysis of self-reported health measures. As much as possible lifestyle factors will also be included: indices of tobacco and alcohol consumption will be derived using the Northern Ireland Health and Well-being Survey, and integrated into the main project data for analysis. It is anticipated that this will enhance understanding of both (a) processes of population health formation and maintenance in NI and more generally (b) increase understanding of the health of minority populations.



O’Reilly, D. and Rosato, M. (2010) Dissonances in self-reported health and mortality across denominational groups in Northern Ireland. Social Sciences and Medicine, 71(5): 1011-1017.

Other Outputs:

Catney, G., Connolly, S., O’Reilly, D. and Rosato, M. (2011) ‘Does where you live influence your health or the reporting of ill-health?‘ – presented at the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study Research Forum seminar session ‘Attesting to the potential of the NILS: A series of presentations based on the projects jointly funded by the ESRC and the R&D Office’, NISRA, 11th March 2011

Research Team: Dermot O’Reilly, Sheelah Connolly and Michael Rosato
Database: NILS
Project Status: Complete
Organisation(s): Queen’s University Belfast