News Release 

50% of Irish adults rely on online advice for health concerns

RCSI MyHealth public lecture series to address common health topics



IMAGE: Pictured at the launch of the RCSI MyHealth public lecture series is Professor Hannah McGee, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences RCSI, and Professor Steve Kerrigan, Academic... view more 

Credit: Maxwell Photography

50% of Irish people seek health information or advice online, according to new research carried out by Behaviour and Attitudes on behalf of RCSI. The research comes as RCSI launch a series of public lectures addressing common illnesses and health related topics.

The research also found that:

  • 1 in 5 Irish adults have never spoken to a healthcare professional about health concerns

  • Mental health is cited as parents' main health concern for their children.

  • Adults under 25 are least likely to speak to a healthcare professional about health concerns.

  • Cancer is women's main health concern, followed by mental health, heart disease and stress.

  • 2 in 5 women under 35 rate stress in their top three health concerns and 1 in 8 are concerned about fertility issues.

  • Despite many turning to the internet for health information, 69% of the Irish public do not consider websites to be a trusted source.

Commenting on the findings, Professor Hannah McGee, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences RCSI, said: "As educators and researchers, it is our responsibility to use our expertise, knowledge, and discoveries to foster improvements in health and education in our communities, our societies and around the world. The RCSI MyHealth Lecture series aims to do just that - to de-mystify the common health concerns affecting the Irish public, drawing expertise and insight from our team of researchers, and leading international health experts at the cutting edge of medical and healthcare developments."

Running throughout the year, the RCSI MyHealth lecture series will explore a wide range of areas in health and wellbeing, including mental health, arthritis, vaccinations and psychology.

The lecture series is open to those who want to learn more about common illnesses and health-related topics directly from leading healthcare experts under four themes: Child Health, Women's Health, Public Health and Positive Health.

The first talk in the series will address 'Cannabis and Youth Health - The Evidence' on Wednesday, 18 September 2019. Alex Berenson, a former journalist with the New York Times and author of the best-selling book, Tell Your Children: The Truth about Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence will give a guest address on the evening. This will be followed by a panel discussion chaired by Miriam O'Callaghan, with RCSI experts Prof. Mary Cannon, Prof. Norman Delanty, Prof. Susan Smith and GP Dr Garrett McGovern.

Upcoming lectures include:

  • Cannabis and Youth Health - The Evidence - 18 September 2019

  • Arthritis: My Joint Health - 3 October 2019

  • How Inequality Kills: Margins, the Marginalised and Public Health - 19 November 2019

  • The Evidence behind Vaccinations - 3 March 2020

  • Positive Psychology - 21 May 2020

The full schedule of RCSI MyHealth lectures will be available to view at:

This series of public health lectures are open to the public and free of charge, however registration is essential to guarantee a place.

All lectures will begin at 6.30pm at RCSI, 26 York Street, Dublin 2.

Notes to editors


The research was carried out by Behaviour and Attitudes Research among a representative sample of 1000 adults in Ireland aged 16+ between 18 and 31 July 2019.

Findings in detail

Main health concerns

Cancer is the main concern of women as 51% placed it within their top three health concerns, followed by mental health (39%), heart disease (34%) and stress (32%). One in eight women under the age of 35 cite fertility as a top health concern.

81% of parents cite mental health as a key concern for their children. Vaccinations (62%), drugs and alcohol (61%) and weight/obesity (54%) are also among the issues concerning parents. Those with children aged 0-4 years are most concerned with vaccinations, while parents of children aged 13-17 years are most concerned with drugs and alcohol.

Most trusted sources

Research shows that 50% of the Irish public seek information on medical issues and health concerns online. Furthermore, one in five adults claim to have never spoken to a healthcare professional about their health concerns. This equates to over 700,000 people at population level. Adults under 25 are least likely to speak to a healthcare professional about health concerns.

However, 61% of respondents claim to completely trust healthcare professionals as a source of medical or healthcare information, over family (25%), friends (15%) and media (6%). Online sites are the least trusted sources of healthcare information, with 69% of the Irish public completely distrusting these as a source of health information.


About RCSI

RCSI is ranked among the top 250 of universities worldwide in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (2019) and its research is ranked first in Ireland for citations. It is an international not-for-profit health sciences institution, with its headquarters in Dublin, focused on education and research to drive improvements in human health worldwide. RCSI has been awarded Athena Swan Bronze accreditation for positive gender practice in higher education.

Visit the RCSI MyHealth Expert Directory to find the details of our experts across a range of healthcare issues and concerns. Recognising their responsibility to share their knowledge and discoveries to empower people with information that leads them to better health, these clinicians and researchers are willing to engage with the media in their area of expertise.

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