Background: Research and policy related to reducing health inequalities has progressed separately within Ireland and Northern Ireland. This paper describes the first exploration of the socio-economic influences on health on the island of Ireland since 1922. Methods: Postal survey. Results: The response rate was 52%; 11,870 respondents. Men reported more long-standing illness (LLTI) or poor general health (PGH); depression was more common amongst women. Socio-economic gradients in health were evident in both jurisdictions, with the effects of household income being particularly marked. Overall, morbidity levels were significantly better in Ireland than in Northern Ireland: adjusted odds ratio of 0.79 (95% CI 0.71- 0.88) for LLTI; 0.64 (0.57-0.72) for PCH; 0.90 (0.82-0.99) for depression. Conclusions: There is evidence of strong and similar socio-economic gradients in health throughout the island of Ireland. This would suggest joint policy approaches or at least further comparative evaluation of the initiatives in each jurisdiction.
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