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The clustering of health behaviours in Ireland and their relationship with mental health, self-rated health and quality of life

Institution: BioMed Central

Background: Health behaviours do not occur in isolation. Rather they cluster
together. It is important to examine patterns of health behaviours to inform a more
holistic approach to health in both health promotion and illness prevention strategies.
Examination of patterns is also important because of the increased risk of mortality,
morbidity and synergistic effects of health behaviours. This study examines the
clustering of health behaviours in a nationally representative sample of Irish adults
and explores the association of these clusters with mental health, self-rated health and
quality of life.
Methods: TwoStep Cluster analysis using SPSS was carried out on the SLÁN 2007
data (national Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition, n=10,364; response rate
=62%; food frequency n=9,223; cluster analysis n=7,350). Patterns of smoking,
drinking alcohol, physical activity and diet were considered. Associations with
positive and negative mental health, quality of life and self-rated health were assessed.
Results: Six health behaviour clusters were identified: Former Smokers, 21.3%
(n=1,564), Temperate, 14.6% (n=1,075), Physically Inactive, 17.8% (n=1,310),
Healthy Lifestyle, 9.3% (n=681), Multiple Risk Factor, 17% (n=1248), and Mixed
Lifestyle, 20% (n=1,472). Cluster profiles varied with men aged 18-29 years, in the
lower social classes most likely to adopt unhealthy behaviour patterns. In contrast,
women from the higher social classes and aged 65 years and over were most likely to
be in the Healthy Lifestyle cluster. Having healthier patterns of behaviour was
associated with positive lower levels of psychological distress and higher levels of
energy vitality.
Conclusion: The current study identifies discernible patterns of lifestyle behaviours
in the Irish population which are similar to those of our European counterparts.
Healthier clusters (Former Smokers, Temperate and Healthy Lifestyle) reported
higher levels of energy vitality, lower levels of psychological distress, better self-rated
health and better quality of life. In contrast, those in the Multiple Risk Factor cluster
had the lowest levels of energy and vitality and the highest levels of psychological
distress. Identification of these discernible patterns because of their relationship with
mortality, morbidity and longevity is important for identifying national and
international health behaviour patterns.

Suggested citation:

. () The clustering of health behaviours in Ireland and their relationship with mental health, self-rated health and quality of life [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 17th September 2019].


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