The sixth set of results from the NISRA Coronavirus (COVID-19) Opinion survey were published recently by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency. The results presented in this release relate to data from Phases 1 to 10 of the survey and are based on interviews carried out with members of the public in the period 21 April 2020 to 3 April 2021.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccinations
- People interviewed in the period January – April 2021, were asked if they had received a vaccine for Coronavirus (COVID-19) and, if so, whether or not they had experienced any side effects.
- Of those interviewed, 27% reported that they had received a vaccine for Coronavirus (COVID-19). Just under half of these people (47%) said that they had experienced side effects after receiving the vaccine.
- Of those people who reported experiencing side effects, the vast majority (92%) reported describing the side effects as mild, whilst 8% described the side effects as severe.
- Those people who had not received a Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine by the time of interview, were asked a further question about how likely or unlikely they were to have a Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. The vast majority of those people (91%) stated that they would be likely to have a Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, whilst 9% stated they would be unlikely to do so.
- The most common reasons given by those people who said that they were unlikely to have a Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine were that they were worried about the side effects (53%), they had worries about the long term effects on their health (42%), they did not think it will be safe (34%) or they would wait to see how well the vaccine works (33%).
- People interviewed in the period February – April 2021 were asked some questions about lockdown measures and the extent to which they supported or opposed the lockdown measures which were in place at that time.
- While the vast majority of people (87%) supported the lockdown measures, some 7% (one in fourteen people) opposed them.
Compliance with Coronavirus (COVID-19) Regulations and Guidelines
- Approximately, six in ten people (59%) said that they were completely following the Northern Ireland Executive’s regulations and guidelines on how to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mental Health (GHQ-12)
- People interviewed during the months of January – April 2021 completed the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). The GHQ is a screening tool designed to detect the possibility of psychiatric morbidity in the general population. The questionnaire used contains 12 questions about recent general levels of happiness, depression, anxiety and sleep disturbance. An overall score of between zero and twelve is constructed, with a score of 4 or more being classified as a respondent with a possible psychiatric disorder, and referred to as a ‘high GHQ-12 score’.
- In the period January – April 2021, some 28% had a high GHQ-12 score, which could indicate a possible mental health problem. This was significantly higher than the most recent figure published from the Health Survey Northern Ireland for 2019-20 which found that 19% of people had a high GHQ-12 score.
- One in three females (33%) had a high GHQ-12 score, which was significantly higher than for males (23%).
- Almost one third of people (32%) aged 16-44 years had a high GHQ-12 score. This was significantly higher than for those aged 45-64 years (28%) and those aged 65 years and over (20%).
- Almost four out of ten people living in the most deprived areas (38%) were found to have a high GHQ-12 score. This was significantly higher compared to people living in lesser deprived areas where the proportion of people with a high GHQ-12 score was in the range 25%-28%.
Home Schooling and Remote Learning
- During the months of January – April 2021, people with school aged children in their household were asked about home schooling and remote learning.
- Some 72% of these people agreed that the child/children in their household were continuing to learn whilst being home schooled or receiving remote learning, while 18% disagreed.
- Almost two thirds (65%) agreed that home schooling or remote learning was negatively affecting the well-being of the children in their household, but almost 21% disagreed.
- The proportion of people, who expected the financial position of their household to get worse in the next 12 months, was highest at the beginning of the pandemic in the months of April – June 2020 (31%) but decreased to 18% in the months of January – March 2021.
- The average (mean) wellbeing rating of people interviewed in the period April 2020-April 2021 for ‘life satisfaction’, feeling that things done in life are ‘worthwhile’ and ‘happiness’ were significantly lower than that reported by NISRA for the 2019/20 year, signifying poorer wellbeing in these measures.
- Anxiety levels in the same period were also significantly higher than that reported by NISRA for 2019/20, which is indicative of poorer wellbeing in this measure.
- The average ‘life satisfaction’ score reported in the period October–December 2020 (when restrictions were reintroduced) and January-March 2021 (when restrictions increased) were both significantly lower than that reported in the periods April-June 2020 and July-September 2020. Indeed in the period January-March 2021, feelings for ‘life satisfaction’ were significantly lower than for all previous periods since the start of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
- Feelings that things done in life are ‘worthwhile’ and ‘happiness’ were also significantly lower in the period January-March 2021 compared to earlier time periods.
- Feelings of ‘anxiety’ were significantly higher in October-December 2020 and January-March 2021 (when restrictions were reintroduced) than in July-September 2020 (when restrictions were easing).