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Influence of sociodemographic and neighbourhood factors on self rated health and quality of life in rural communities: findings from the Agriproject in the Republic of Ireland
  1. Joseph B Tay,
  2. Cecily C Kelleher,
  3. Ann Hope,
  4. Margaret Barry,
  5. Saoirse Nic Gabhainn,
  6. Jane Sixsmith
  1. Centre for Health Promotion Studies, Department of Health Promotion, Clinical Science Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway, Republic of Ireland
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor C Kelleher
 Department of Public Health Medicine and Epidemiology, Earlsfort Terrace, University College, Dublin 2, Republic of Ireland;


Objective: To examine the influence of sociodemographic and neighbourhood factors on self rated health, quality of life, and perceived opportunities for change (as one measure of empowerment) in rural Irish communities.

Design: Pooled data from cross sectional surveys two years apart.

Setting: Respondents in four randomly selected rural district electoral divisions with a population size of between 750 and 2000.

Participants: 1738 rural dwellers aged 15–93, 40.5% men, interviewed at two time points.

Main outcome measures: Determinants of self rated health (SRH), quality of life (QOL), and perceived opportunities for change, rated on a closed option Likert scale and assessed in multivariate logistic regression models.

Main results: Overall 23.8% of the sample reported poor SRH, 22.2% poor QOL, and 50.1% low perceived opportunities for change. Low financial security and dissatisfaction with work were each significantly associated with poor SRH (OR = 1.96 (1.50 to 2.56) and 1.54 (1.11 to 2.14)), with poor QOL (OR = 2.04 (1.56 to 2.68) and 1.87 (1.34 to 2.61). Concern about access to public services was significantly predictive of SRH (OR = 1.47 (1.11 to 1.94)) rather than access to health care (that is, hospital and GP services). There were distinct sex specific patterns and a generational effect for educational status in men. Variables associated with social networks and social support were less strongly predictive of SRH and QOL when economic measures were accounted for.

Conclusion: Inter-relations between indicators of health status, wellbeing, and deprivation are not well studied in rural communities. Material deprivation has a direct influence on both health status and quality of life, although immediate sources of support are relatively well preserved.

  • SRH, self rated health
  • QOL, quality of life
  • rurality
  • self rated health
  • quality of life
  • poverty

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  • Funding: the Agriproject was a five year intervention programme funded by the Health Promotion Unit, Department of Health and Children, the Health and Safety Authority and a research Fellowship bursary from the Medical and Scientific Committee of the Freemasons of Ireland. The actual interventions were supported by the local health boards and various statutory and voluntary agencies, particularly Teagasc. This analysis forms part of a work programme of the Health Research Board of Ireland funded Unit on Health Status and Health Gain. Dr Joseph Tay was a post-doctoral researcher on the PRTLI funded Human Impact Cluster of the Environmental Change Institute.

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared.

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