The last year has seen some significant changes in ADR NI, not least in personnel. Among many other important appointments, Dr Philip Wales has taken up post as Chief Executive of NISRA, Registrar General for Northern Ireland and ADR NI Co-Director. With fresh insights and vision comes the potential for innovation and creative thinking.   

Increasing the range of administrative data for Northern Ireland

NISRA has continued to drive forward data acquisition developments including the delivery of a rich, growing research resource for secondary education – the Educational Outcomes Linkage. Significant progress has also been made on the development of data linkages relating to business, income and agriculture, while the option of secure remote access has been introduced in some ADR NI processes.  

Many of ADR NI’s themed datasets are coming to fruition, such as the NI Administrative Data | Agricultural Research Collection. After an open research competition, there are seven research teams from across the UK undertaking projects based on the Earnings and Employees Study, and Business Data for Research. It is anticipated that early next year, Northern Ireland’s Cross-Government Income administrative dataset will launch and the first update will be made to the recently launched Education Outcomes Linkage. There has also been significant progress on data builds relating to people who are homeless and to prisoners.     

Providing new insights on the issues important to society

ADR NI researchers have delivered comprehensive findings on Covid-19 mortality and equality, and disability and employment among other areas. With researchers now able to access all the safe settings following Covid-19 lockdowns, ADR NI’s research agenda has refocused onto wider societal concerns, many of which were amplified by the pandemic. The team’s research findings continue to contribute to policy development and evaluation. Even in the absence of a functioning devolved government, ADR NI has been able to reach wider policy and political audiences, including interaction with a range of All Party Groups and a renewed endorsement from the Permanent Secretary to the Executive Office. This work will be underpinned by the continued development and rollout of the new Northern Ireland Public Data Panel.  

We are now on the fringes of an exciting post-pandemic period, where access to new and important NI datasets (including the 2021 Census) will enable the researcher community here to enhance its contribution to policy development and evaluation. The goal of the ADRC NI team, which has been galvanized through its new members, is to continue assisting the research community in these endeavours, and to bring our publics along with us.

Professor Dermot O’Reilly, ADR NI Co-Director

ADR NI has made real progress over the last year, developing new outputs to improve the delivery of policy. We are at the beginning of an exciting journey with the Earnings and Employees Study 2011, Educational Outcomes Linkage and the Business Data for Research dataset. Even in the short time since my appointment, I’ve seen the enthusiasm and passion of the network. I look forward to helping to deliver its considerable potential.

Dr Philip Wales, ADR NI Co-Director

Advancing physical health outcomes and tackling inequalities for people with severe mental illness 

This year, ADRC NI researchers, led by Professor Gerard Leavey, have continued researching the physical health outcomes of individuals with severe mental illness. The study gathered new evidence on the additional health problems and rates of death experienced by this group.  

Additional studies within this stream have produced findings on inequalities related to dental and eye health. Working closely with a steering committee which includes members of the voluntary sector, clinicians, and policymakers, this project has developed key evidence that is being taken up by the Department of Health and the Public Health Agency.   

With further funding support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the research team has built a community coalition with experts by experience, members of the voluntary sector, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and other public bodies. The team held a successful launch of this new iteration of the project, called Challenging Health Outcomes / Integrating Care Environments, in March 2023. Using the evidence developed through the research, the project’s community coalition is developing service and policy interventions for people living with severe mental illness. Professor Leavey’s team is currently applying for further investment to tackle health inequalities.  

Disability and employment

NISRA-based researchers have published comprehensive insights relating to disability and employment this year. In January 2023, a team published a research report called "Getting into and staying in employment: limiting long-term illness". The work used the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study to look at the employment of those with limiting long-term illness or disability, as self-reported in the 2001 Census. It sought to identify drivers (and quantify their impact on the likelihood) of obtaining or staying in employment by 2011 for those with limiting long-term illness or disability. The study also assessed the difference in the employment rate between those with and without long-term health problems or disability in 2011 (the disability employment gap).  

This report aimed to provide important insights into different dimensions of disability and employment. It will be useful in supporting the development of social inclusion strategies led by the Department for Communities, in particular the Disability Strategy and Disability and Work Strategy.  

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