Telephone Survey of Infectious Intestinal Disease in the Republic of Ireland

Date: May, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-905767-37-3

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Background

report coverInfectious intestinal disease is a disease of the digestive system caused by infectious agents. Most infectious intestinal disease (IID) is self-limiting, requiring no clinical intervention, but it causes a substantial burden to the population through healthcare usage and absenteeism. Understanding the magnitude, distribution and demographic factors associated with IID is key to its mitigation.

The cases and outbreaks of human disease detected via surveillance represent but a small proportion of the true burden of disease in the population, and special studies are needed periodically in order to be able to extrapolate true population experience from what is reported via surveillance. One way to identify the true extent of IID is to estimate illness in the community, and not just at the point where the individual has made contact with the health services.

This report describes a telephone survey commissioned by safefood to obtain data on the self reported incidence of IID in the population on the Republic of Ireland (ROI) using two recall periods: 7 days and 28 days. The survey comprised 3,601 telephone interviews carried out in 2009, 3,000 among the 7-day recall group and 601 among the 28-day recall group. A random digit dialling (RDD) sampling method of residential landline telephone numbers using CATI (computer aided telephone interviewing) was used to sample households. Within households, interviewers asked to interview the household member whose birthday occurred next. Respondents were assigned at random to answer questions regarding symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting experienced either in the previous 7 days or the previous 28 days. All age groups were included in the survey. A quota-based sampling strategy, to reflect the age and sex distribution of the population, was employed.