pharmaco-epidemiological study of Anxiolytic and Antidepressant Drug uptake in Northern Ireland.

Recent epidemiological research highlights the importance of area factors on population health, with deprived areas having a greater proportion of physically and mentally ill inhabitants. One explanation is that these areas promote detrimental health behaviours, but increasingly the influence of individual characteristics are of interest. The social drift hypothesis suggests that individuals with poor health may migrate to particular areas, whilst selective migration suggests that the ‘healthy’ move out; collectively these effects can produce distributions of health that are erroneously suggestive of an area influence on mental health. In Northern Ireland mental ill health is increasingly becoming an issue.

Since the year 2000 the number of antidepressant prescriptions dispensed to the general population increased by over 56% and the number of anxiolytic prescriptions by over 20%. This study aims to use two years’ worth of prescription information, over 2008-2010, linked to 2001 census information to gain a greater understanding of the individual, household and area factors influencing the uptake of these drugs. This project hopes to merge the newly available Enhanced Prescribing Database (EPD) data on antidepressant and anxiolytic uptake with census information from the well-established NILS dataset. NILS will provide us with demographic, area and household information on a representative sample of the Northern Ireland population (approximately 500, 000 individuals).


Maguire, A., O’Reilly, D. (2015) ‘Does conurbation affect the risk of poor mental health? A population based record linkage study’ Health & Place. doi:10.1016/j.healthplace.2015.05.003


Other Outputs:

Maguire, A. ‘Measuring Mental Health: A pharmacoepidemiological study of the factors affecting antidepressant and anxiolytic uptake in Northern Ireland’. School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast. June 2013.

Maguire, A., McCann, M., Moriarty, J. and O’Reilly, D. (2015) ‘Using administrative data to understand mental health in Northern Ireland: Results from two exemplar projects‘ – Presented at the Northern Ireland Assembly Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series, 4th February 2015.

Lowry E, Maguire A, Moriarty J. ‘Mental Health in Northern Ireland’ Presented as a poster during mental health awareness week at Queen’s University Belfast. March 2019.

Research Team: Dermot O’Reilly and Aideen Maguire
Database: NILS
Project Status: Complete
Organisation(s): Queen’s University Belfast