Mental ill-health among health and social care professionals: an analysis using administrative data

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Objective Health and Social Care (HSC) workers are at high risk of job-related stress, burnout and mental ill-health. This study examines differences in self-reported mental health and psychotropic medication uptake across HSC occupational groups. Method Northern Ireland (NI) data linkage study of people working in the Health and Care sector, aged between twenty and sixty-four years, enumerated at the 2011 Northern Ireland Census and living in private households, and their uptake of prescribed psychotropic medications during 2011-2012 (using data derived from routine electronically captured information on prescriptions issued within the NHS and linked at an individual level using a NI-specific Health and Care key identifier). Comparing HSC workers with all those professionals not involved in HSC occupations, we used multinomial logistic regression to examine (a) self-reported chronic mental illness and (b) uptake of psychotropic medication by occupational groups adjusting for age, sex and socio-demographic circumstance. Results When compared against other professionals highest risks for mental health problems (associated with psychotropic prescription uptake) were associated with nursing/midwifery (OR = 1.25: 95%CI = 1.17-1.33; OR = 1.84: 1.58-2.15 for females and males respectively), welfare (OR = 1.34: 1.21-1.48; OR = 1.71: 1.44-2.03) and formal caregiving roles (OR = 1.42: 1.31-1.53; OR = 1.70: 1.50-1.91), again for females/males respectively). These higher risk professions record notable increases in psychotropic medication use. Conclusion Working in the Health and Social Care sector, irrespective of gender, may be more stressful than other jobs. Additionally, self-reported mental ill-health and psychotropic medication treatment both appear to be associated with social class inequity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1649
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Population Data Science
Issue number1
Early online date27 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 28 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Administrative Data Research Network takes privacy protection very seriously. All information directly identifying individuals is removed from the datasets by trusted third parties, before researchers get to see it. All researchers using the Network are trained and accredited to use sensitive data safely and ethically, they will only access the data via a secure environment, and all of their findings will be vetted to ensure they adhere to the strictest confidentiality standards. The help provided by the staff of the Administrative Data Research Network Northern Ireland (ADR-NI) and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) Research Support Unit is acknowledged. The ADR-NI is funded by the Economic and Research Council (ESRC). The authors alone are responsible for the interpretation of the data and any views or opinions presented are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ADR-NI. The Health and Social Care Business Services Organisation (HSC-BSO) prescriptions data has been supplied for the sole purpose of this project.

Funding Information:
This study is part of a recent Administrative Data Research initiative, funded by the United Kingdom (UK) Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), to develop the use of routinely collected administrative data for research purposes. In this instance the population of interest is drawn from the Northern Ireland (NI) 2011 Census enumerated population. While the general mechanisms involved in evolving and building the database spine (in this case the whole enumerated 2011 Census population) are detailed elsewhere [22, 23], the data linkages for this study include both this and electronically captured data on medications prescribed through Primary Care and dispensed by pharmacists, data gathered initially for pharmaceutical audit [22] and held on the Business Services Organisation (BSO) Enhanced Prescribing Database (EPD). The databases are managed and maintained by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA): all data is classed as confidential; is held in, and accessed from, a secure setting ; by accredited researchers, each of whom must adhere to stringent protocols obviating disclosure issues; and using data de-identified prior to researcher access.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Authors. Open Access under CC BY 4.0 (


  • health and social care
  • burnout
  • anxiety
  • stress
  • depression
  • Burnout
  • Health and social care
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress


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