4. Health of participants
More than three in five participants (62 per cent) reported at least one long term health condition. As shown in Figure 7, three in ten reported one health condition (30 per cent) and 18 per cent reported two conditions. A third (34 per cent) reported two or more health conditions.
Source: IFF Research telephone survey of FSS customers, Sample information. H4i: Do you have any of the following conditions which have lasted, or are expected to last, at least 12 months? Base: 2021-22 Cohort (750)
As shown in Figure 8, the most common condition reported among the 2021-22 cohort was a mental health condition, reported by a third (34 per cent) of participants. Long-term illnesses were the second most common (25 per cent), followed by a physical disability (19 per cent) or a learning difficulty (17 per cent).
Participants who reported multiple conditions were also asked which was their main health condition, this is combined with those who only reported one condition to show which was the main condition or disability in Figure 8. Mental health conditions (20 per cent) and long-term illness (15 per cent) were the most commonly reported form of main condition. Learning difficulties and physical disabilities were common reported conditions but were less likely to be the main condition.
Source: IFF Research telephone survey of FSS customers, Sample information combined with H4l: Do you have any of the following conditions which have lasted, or are expected to last, at least 12 months? H4m: And which of those would you consider to be your main health condition or disability? Base: 2021-22 Cohort, (750)
There were some differences by demographic groups:
- female participants were more likely than male participants to report mental health conditions (44 per cent versus 28 per cent)
- younger participants aged 16 to 34 were more likely to report learning difficulties, developmental disorders or mental health conditions whilst older participants aged or 50 or above were more likely to report conditions related to hearing or sight, physical disabilities or long-term illness
- participants with a white ethnic background were more likely than those from an ethnic minority background to have report mental health conditions (38 per cent versus 13 per cent), physical disabilities (22 per cent versus 4 per cent) and learning difficulties (19 per cent versus 7 per cent)
- participants who were not working at the time of the survey were more likely than those who were working to report a number of conditions including mental health conditions (39 per cent versus 27 per cent), long-term illness (29 per cent versus 21 per cent), physical disabilities (25 per cent versus 12 per cent) and learning difficulties (20 per cent versus 12 per cent)
There were no other notable differences between demographic groups regarding the health conditions or disabilities reported by participants.
4.1 Impact of health conditions
To gauge the impact that health conditions had on FSS participants, all who had a health condition or disability were asked about the extent to which it limited their ability to carry out day-to-day activities, either whether they were not limited by it at all, limited a little or limited a lot. Figure 9 shows the impact of health conditions for the 2021-22 cohort. Nearly half of all participants (48 per cent) said they were impacted by a health condition either a little or a lot.
Source: IFF Research telephone survey of FSS customers, H4N_W4. Does your health or disability limit your ability to carry out day-to-day activities? Base: 2021-22 cohort (750)
Participants who were more likely than all other participants combined to report a health condition which limited their activites were:
- younger participants aged 16 to 24 (58 per cent versus 48 per cent overall)
- participants from a white ethnic background (53 per cent versus 22 per cent of those from an ethnic minority background)
- those who were not working (55 per cent versus 37 per cent of those working)
Focusing on only those who reported a health condition or disability, Figure 10 shows that three-quarters (75 per cent) of participants were limited in their ability to carry out day-to-day activities. Two-fifths (40 per cent) of those who reported a health condition were limited ‘a little’ and 35 per cent ‘a lot’. Less than a quarter (23 per cent) reported a health condition that did not limit their activities.
Source: IFF Research telephone survey of FSS customers, H4N_W3. Does your health or disability limit your ability to carry out day-to-day activities? Base: 2021-22 cohort with health condition who agree to give data (478)
4.2 Differences in health of participants between the 2021-22 cohort and previous cohorts
Overall the proportion of participants in the 2021-22 cohort reporting long term health conditions was slightly higher than in the 2020 cohort at Wave 3 (63% and 57% respectively). The 2021-22 cohort was more likely to report multiple long-term health conditions (34 per cent verus 27 per cent in the 2020 cohort at Wave 3) and physical disabilities (19 per cent versus 15 per cent in the 2020 cohort at Wave 3). This might reflect the higher proportion of older participants in 2021-22.
Overall, the 2021-22 cohort were more likely to report that they had a health condition that impacted their daily activities (48 per cent versus 39 per cent in the 2020 cohort at Wave 3). Those with health conditions were also more likely to report being limited a lot (35 per cent in the 2021-22 cohort versus 25 per cent in the 2020 cohort, 27 per cent in the 2019 cohort and 29 per cent in the 2018 cohort), and less likely to report having conditions which did not impact them at all (23 per cent versus 32 per cent in the 2020 cohort).
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