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The Administrative Data Research Network is an ESRC-funded project that ran from October 2013 - July 2018. It is currently at the end of its funding cycle and is no longer taking applications. Administrative data research will be taken forward in a new project, to be launched later in 2018.

Using Data Linkage to obtain accurate population estimates of migrants in Northern Ireland and their needs for and use of mental health and social care

Research overview

Northern Ireland (NI) has experienced increased levels of migration in recent years, yet it is still difficult to gain an accurate and comprehensive account of the health of migrants. The recent Racial Equality Strategy for NI highlighted a gap in research on migrants despite international research which shows that migrants have typically poorer physical and mental health than the settled population. This study aims to assess the strengths and caveats of different data sources in accurately identifying and quantifying migrants and their characteristics, and to identify migrants’ use and need for mental health care services.

The study uses a cross-sectional design with data linkage drawing on the 2011 NI Census and health service data from the Business Service Organisation. The largest migrant groups (Polish, other eastern European,  Chinese, south Asian, American/Canadian and other) will be compared to the settled majority by linking data on psychotropic medication (antidepressants; hypnotics and anxiolytics; drugs used in psychoses and related disorders) with data on individual migrant and migration factors, socio-economic factors, and neighbourhood characteristics including migrant population density, neighbourhood level of racist hate crimes as well as data on religious population density and sectarian hate crimes related to the specific context of NI. Furthermore, remaining unlinked data will be used to identify the characteristics of those migrants who did not respond to the Census or who did not register with primary care.


Findings will be helpful to understand the quality and accuracy of available datasets in researching migrant populations in NI; to compare the mental health status of the largest migrant groups to that of the majority population; to identify migrants’ access and use of primary mental health care; to inform policy on migrant and ethnic minority equality; and to inform and support the activities of migrant community-based organisations.

Want to know more? Check out this short video and impact case study (pdf).

Government departments

Business Service Organisation, NISRA

Date Approved

December 2014

Project team

Tania J. Bosqui (Administrative Data Research Centre Northern Ireland, Queen's University Belfast)

Anne Kouvonen, (Administrative Data Research Centre Northern Ireland, Queen's University Belfast)

Michael Donnelly (Queen's University Belfast)

Dermot O’Reilly (Administrative Data Research Centre Northern Ireland, Queen's University Belfast)

John Moriarty (Administrative Data Research Centre Northern Ireland, Queen's University Belfast)

Ciara Close (Administrative Data Research Centre Northern Ireland, Queen's University Belfast)   

Page last updated: 24/10/2017