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EHPS at NUI Galway!

EHPS sm The School of Psychology hosted the 32nd European Health Psychology Conference at NUI Galway in August 2018. Over 750 delegates from all over the world attended this fantastic event, which focussed on the theme of Health Psychology Across the Lifespan: Uniting Research, Practice and Policy. Several member of the HBCRG presented at the conference (details here), including our own Prof Molly Byrne, who delivered an excellent keynote address on the very relevant topic of stakeholder involvement in health research.


Bon Jour France! Researchers win IRC Ulysses award

Ulysses award


Blathin Casey repersents Ireland at Canada conference

BCasey Canada


Most Cited Paper for Dr Oonagh Meade

HBCRG OMeade paper


Double Honour for School of Psychology Researchers!

HBCRG ET and DM ICUF

Dr Elaine Toomey and Dr David Mothersill from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway, have both received prestigious awards for their specific areas of research from the Irish Canadian University Foundation and the Royal Irish Academy. Elaine received the ‘Irish Canadian University Foundation James M Flaherty Early Career Researcher Award’ to conduct further research on the adaptation of ‘Football Fans in Training’ (FFIT), an effective health behaviour change intervention that used Scottish professional football clubs to engage with overweight and obese men. The ‘Hockey Fit’ intervention was recently developed by Dr Rob Petrella and Dr Dawn Gill in Western University, Ontario to adapt the FFIT project to ice-hockey, within a Canadian context. Elaine's award will enable her to visit Western University and explore the Canadian ‘Hockey Fit’ intervention with a specific focus on how FFIT components were adapted to suit a different sporting and cultural context, and inform how this might be used in an Irish context. Elaine will also spend time in the Centre for Implementation Research in the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute to maximise how knowledge from her visit to Western University can be used to inform adaptation and translation into an Irish setting, using a structured and theory-based approach. Well done Elaine, have a great trip! Read the FULL PRESS RELEASE HERE


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HRB TMRN Summer Scholar Daragh McGee wins Best Poster Prize!

HBCRG_DMcGee_poster Well done to HRB TMRN Summer Scholar Daragh McGee and supervisor Dr Elaine Toomey on Daragh's first place poster prize at the annual HRB TMRN Symposium. Elaine and Daragh received the Trials Methodology Research Network Summer Student Scholarship grant (€2,000) for the project ‘Surveying knowledge, current practice and attitudes toward intervention fidelity practices within randomised trials in healthcare’.


HBCRG at the European Health Psychology Society (EHPS) Conference 2017, Padua Italy

HBCRG EHPS 2017

The HBCRG was well represented at EHPS 2017, with members of the Group presenting oral and poster presentations, as well are organising and participating in several symposiums. Drs Jenny Mc Sharry and Elaine Toomey hosted a successful symposium on 'Maximising the value of qualitative methods in the development and evaluation of behaviour change interventions', which highlighted the value of qualitative methods at all stages of intervention development, and promoted awareness of supports for qualitative intervention research. Read more on the QUESTS website. SPHeRE PhD scholar Caragh Flannery persented her PhD work at the 'Developing and evaluating interventions to promote physical activity issues in special settings and populations' symposium, and Milou Fredrix, PhD scholar presented on 'Implementation of goal-setting techniques in DAFNE'. Milou was also voted as the incoming Secretary for EHPS CREATE: Collaborative REsearch and Training. Congratulations Milou! And we are very much looking forward to EHPS 2018 at NUI Galway!


HBCRG in Canada, Summer 2017

HBCRG Canada summer 2017

Drs Molly Byrne, Jenny Mc Sharry and Elaine Toomey of the Health Behaviour Change Research Group all spent time in Canada during summer 2017. Molly received the James M. Flaherty visiting professorship award for a 10-week research visit, during which time she visited three Canadian centres: the Montreal Behavioural Medicine Centre, the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the Behaviour Change Institute, Capital Health Nova Scotia. Both Jenny and Elaine presented at the Global Implementation Conference in Toronto, while Elaine completed a 6-week research placement at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and also presented at Knowledge Translation Canada in Quebec. The value of internation research visits was the topic of our seminar in October 2017.


Report on Homeless Families and Diet is Launched

HBCRG FocusIreland report‌ HBCRG SPHeRE scholar Marita Hennessy is co-author of a new report commissioned by Focus Ireland on Food Access and Nutritional Health among Families in Emergency Homeless Accommodation. The report highlights many conerning issues, including lack of food storage and cooking facilities, lack of eating space, and poor food habits. The Report has received huge media interest and has been reported by the national print and broadcast news. Read the Full Report HERE


Dr Molly Byrne delivers public lecture at Concordia University, Montreal

HBCRG MB presentation Montreal Dr Molly Byrne, director of the HBCRG, delivered a public lecture in June 2017 at the School of Irish Studies, Concordia University, Montreal, as part of her James M. Flaherty visiting professor award from the Ireland Canada University Foundation. The talk was entitled Strengthening Research through Public and Patient Engagement: An Irish Example of Patient-Oriented Research in Diabetes. WATCH HERE!


CHErIsH goes to Canada!

HBCRG Cherish Canada Dr Elaine Toomey presented the results of a recent CHErIsH review at the Knowledge Translation Canada (KT Canada) scientific meeting in Quebec City. This review looked at the ‘fidelity’ (or faithfulness) with which previous interventions to promote healthy infant feeding practices have been conducted as intended. Also in attendance at this meeting was CHErIsH senior team member Dr Molly Byrne, who was in Canada on a 10-week ICUF James M. Flaherty Visiting Professorship Research award to Montreal, Ottawa and Halifax.


Choosing Healthy Eating for Infant Health (CHErIsH) study begins recruitment for qualitative work

HBCRG CHERISH SM CHErIsH (Choosing Healthy Eating for Infant Health) aims to develop an intervention to promote healthy infant feeding practices in primary care. The CHErIsH study team, comprising researchers at NUI Galway, University College Cork, and Trinity College Dublin, is entering a new phase of work and is seeking GPs and practice nurses to take part in individual interviews to help them develop this intervention. They are also recruiting parents and/or primary caregivers of infants aged two years and under to take part in focus groups. Interested parties (based in Ireland) may contact the study team via email: cherishstudy@ucc.ie, phone: +353 (0)87 2691637, Twitter: @cherishstudy, or through their recently launched website www.cherishstudy.com.

Dr Elaine Toomey of the Health Behaviour Change Research Group is part of the CHERISH team. CHERISH is supported by a Health Research Board (HRB) Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement (ICE) Award 2015.


Dr Elaine Toomey presents at the Global Implementation Conference (GIC) 2017, Toronto, Canada

HBCRG CIG EToomey Dr Elaine Toomey of the Health Behaviour Change Research Group recently attended the GIC 2017, and presented work on the use of mixed methods for assessing intervention fidelity (i.e. the degree to which an intervention was put into practice as intended by its developers). This research was completed by Dr Toomey as part of her recently completed PhD research in University College Dublin and highlightes the value of using qualitative and quantitative methods involving all stakeholders to ensure that fidelity assessments are both feasible and comprehensive.


Molly Byrne Co-PI on successfull PPI Award

HBCRG MB pic sm To help researchers tackle the Public and Patient Involvement challenge, the Health Research Board teamed up with the Irish Research Council to launch the PPI Ignite Awards. This funding scheme is designed to help institutions create the right environment, training, support and processes to help researchers involve the public and patients in planning and designing research studies, and in communicating study results in a non-technical language. NUI Galway is one of five universities awarded funding under the Health Research Board and Irish Research Council’s new €1.75million ‘PPI Ignite’ initiative, to help researchers involve the public from the very start of the health research process. It is the first award of its kind in Ireland. NUI Galway will receive €350,000 to actively develop capacity in Public and Patient Involvement (PPI). The initiative will be led by Principal Investigator, Sean Dinneen, Professor of Diabetic Medicine from the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway, with Dr Molly Byrne as Co-PI. Read the full press release HERE


ASOI Conference on Childhood Obesity and POCKETS Workshop a huge Success!

HBCRG POCKETS workshop

SPHeRE PhD scholad Marita Hennessy and the Health Behaviour Change Research Group (HBCRG) recently co-hosted the first day of the Association for the Study of Obesity on the island of Ireland (ASOI)’s Annual Conference on Childhood Obesity. The event, held on 4-5 May 2017 at University College Dublin, brought over 100 researchers, policy makers, and practitioners together to exchange knowledge and facilitate mechanisms to translate evidence into practice. Day 1 of the conference focused on the prevention of childhood obesity, while day two focused on treatment. The 4th Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) report for the Republic of Ireland was also launched at the conference, and results presented and discussed by members of the COSI study team at UCD and representatives from the Department of Health and Health Service Executive. Recordings from day 1 of ASOI 2017 are available to view on YouTube.

During the conference, the HBCRG also conducted research workshops as part of POCKETS, a study which aims to: (1) identify and prioritise policy-relevant knowledge gaps for research in childhood obesity prevention, and (2) identify barriers and facilitators to knowledge translation in childhood obesity prevention. Over the two-days, participants contributed to three rounds of priority identification and consensus building in childhood obesity prevention. The study is led by SPHeRE PhD Scholar, Marita Hennessy. Follow updates on the study on ResearchGate.


Chris Noone centre stage at Bright Club Galway!

HBCRG Bright Club Galway Bright Club Galway is described as 'Smarter standup: a variety night where researchers become comedians and you can furrow your brow before laughing your face off'! Our own Dr Chris Noone took to the stage in April to talk about mindfulness research and sham meditations. See the video HERE and follow Bright Club Galway on Twitter @brightclubgal


Elaine Toomey presents at University of East Anglia

HBCRG ET UEA Dr Elaine Toomey was invited to give a seminar on "Exploring implementation fidelity within complex behaviour change interventions: a journey from physiotherapy to public health research" at the University of East Anglia in March 2017.  See a video of her presentation HERE


Chris Noone selected as a Supervisor for EFPSA Summer School

HBCRG EFPSA ESS HBCRG post-doctoral researcher Dr. Chris Noone has been selected to be a supervisor at the European Federation of Psychology Students' Associations European Summer School (ESS). Chris proposed a research project focusing o the health and wellbeing of LGBT+ university students and how this develops over the first year of university. Undergraduate and postgraduate students from all over Europe will now have the opportunity to apply to attend the ESS and potentially work with Chris on this project. For more information about the ESS and this project, see HERE.


Marita Hennessy's International Placement in Australia

HBCRG MH Aus 2017 SPHeRE PhD Scholar Marita Hennessy recently completed a three-week international placement with Dr Rachel Laws at the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), Deakin University, Melbourne, during which time she delivered a seminar titled: “Early life interventions to prevent childhood obesity: An Irish perspective”. Marita had the opportunity to meet with research teams involved in the Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) in the Early Prevention of Obesity in Childhood (EPOCH) in Sydney during the second week of her visit. During the final week of her visit, Marita attended the World Congress on Public Health (WCPH2017)in Melbourne. PIctured L-R: Sarah Taki (Health Promotion Unit-Sydney Local Health District); Marita Hennessy (HBCRG); Prof Li Ming Wen (Health Promotion Unit-Sydney Local Health District and University of Sydney).


Milou Fredrix attends SBM 38th Annual Meeting in San Diego, USA

HBCRG SBM 2017“La Buena Vista: Expanding Horizons of Behavioural Medicine” was the theme of 2017’s Society of Behavioural Medicine’s (SBM) Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions held in San Diego. An large number of presentations provided research updates on diabetes, digital health, chronic pain, physical activity, health behaviour in veterans and many more. HBCRG PhD scholar Milou Fredrix was one of the lucky attendees that had the opportunity to present her work within a poster session. With a record of 2,053 attendees, the conference was a unique experience for networking and getting a taste of US-based research. The conference had a very clear take-home message: Our social, economic and political world greatly impacts our food and activity choices. Therefore, we need focus more on translating our evidence into practice and policy change, something the HBCRG is greatly concerned with. Read more about Milou's experience on the NUIG Health Psychology blog


HBCRG WT logo sm Molly Byrne Invited to Join Wellcome Trust's Research Leadership Development Programme

Dr Molly Byrne has been invited by the Wellcome Trust to join the 2017/2018 cohort of the Research Leadership Development Programme.  The WT Research Leadership Development Programme connects senior researchers with great leaders to help improve their skills.  The Programme consists of two 'Learning Journeys' to London, UK and Boston, USA.


Elaine Toomey Wins Prestigious Prize from the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS)

Elaine Toomey prize 2HBCRG post-doctoral researcher Dr Elaine Toomey has been awarded a prestigious Leamer-Rosenthal Prize for Open Social Science in the Emerging Researcher category. This year, the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS) awarded ten prizes to researchers working to forward the values of openness and transparency in research at the recent annual BITSS Meeting in California.
Dr Toomey’s research focuses on developing methods that enhance reporting and improve the transparency of research within the area of behaviour change. She was recently selected to lead on the implementation component and ensure transparency of an intervention to prevent childhood obesity.
Read the full press release HERE



New funding for childhood obesity project

HBCRG Marita HennessyMarita Hennessy, SPHeRE Programme PhD Scholar at the HBCRG, has received funding from the Irish Research Council under its New Foundations Scheme 2016. Marita will receive €5,000 for her POCKETS workshop “Prevention Of Childhood obesity-Knowledge Exchange and TranSlation”.
The HBCRG, together with the Association for the Study of Obesity on the island of Ireland (ASOI) will host POCKETS, a two-day workshop, as part of the ASOI’s annual conference. POCKETS will bring together researchers, policy makers, and practitioners to exchange knowledge and facilitate mechanisms to translate evidence into practice. Leading international researchers in childhood obesity will also participate in the workshop and present keynotes.
Details will be announced in February 2017 on our Conference page.

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HBCRG welcomes new CHARMS Project Manager

HBCRG Chris Noone The HBCRG would like to welcome Chris Noone to the team! Chris Noone recently completed a PhD at NUI Galway focused on critically analysing claims which have been made regarding the effect of mindfulness on thinking skills. Prior to this Chris had completed a MSc in applied neuroscience at Leiden University in the Netherlands, and a BA in psychology at NUI Galway. Chris is particularly interested in self-regulation as a foundation for health, wellbeing and cognitive outcomes. Chris is project manager for a pilot evaluation of the CHARMS intervention which aims to improve sexual assessment and counselling in hospital-based cardiac rehabilitation. For more on the CHARMS Project, please see HERE


Announcing a new Structured PhD in Health Psychology Practice

Dr Molly Byrne and Dr Jenny Mc Sharry have led the development of a new Structured PhD in Health Psychology Practice. Both worked closely with the Psychological Society of Ireland, NUI Galway and HSE partners to establish this new programme, which aims to have its first intake of trainees in September 2017. This programme is equivalent to ‘Stage 2’ practitioner training in Health Psychology in the UK and is the first of its type in Ireland. For more information on this new PhD, see HERE


Dr Molly Byrne Awarded James M. Flaherty Visiting Professor Award from ICUF 

HBCRG MByrneDr Molly Byrne has received a James M. Flaherty Visiting Professor Award 2016-17 from the Ireland Canada University Foundation. These awards aim to promote collaborations between senior researchers whose work has the potential to link Canada and Ireland. It will provide total funding of €18,400, to support a 10 week visit (May – July 2017) to three Canadian centres: the Montreal Behavioural Medicine Centre (the primary link for the award), the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the Behaviour Change Institute, Capital Health Nova Scotia. At the Montreal Behavioural Medicine Centre, Molly will develop the work of the recently formed International Behavioural Trials Network. At the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the Behaviour Change Institute in Nova Scotia, she will collaborate to build international research in the emerging areas of Implementation Science and health promotion interventions for young adults with Type 1 diabetes.  Read more about the award HERE


Agreeing a Core Outcome Set (COS) to measure outcomes for young adults with T1 Diabetes

HBCRG COS meeting 2

Dr Molly Byrne led an Irish Research Council New Foundations supported study on “Evaluating effectiveness of interventions aimed at improving clinical, behavioural or psychosocial outcomes for young adults with Type 1 diabetes: A consensus study”. Young adults with type 1 diabetes (T1D) frequently struggle to manage their condition and report poor clinical outcomes. The aim of the study was to identify a core outcome set (COS), a minimum set out outcomes to measure in future research. We engaged an international sample of key stakeholders including young adults living with type 1 diabetes, diabetes health professionals, diabetes researchers and people who inform policy on diabetes services. A list of 87 outcomes commonly used in intervention studies involving young adults with type 1 diabetes was generated from a published systematic review and discussion among the research team. Utilising this list, a two-phase eDelphi survey to rate outcomes was conducted, followed by a consensus meeting at NUI Galway in June 2016 to agree the Core Outcome Set. Following discussion at the consensus meeting, 27 outcomes were deemed ‘high support’, and were voted upon in the final voting-phase of the meeting. Nine core outcomes were agreed. This work was presented at the COMET Meeting in Amsterdam in November 2016, and also has been submitted to Diabetic Medicine. We hope that our COS will facilitate future research to improve outcomes for young adults with T1D, and more research is needed to identify the best measures for the core outcomes. For further information, please contact  Dr Molly Byrne at molly.byrne@nuigalway.ie


Marita Hennessy joins two advisory groups

HBCRG partner HIMarita Hennessy, SPHeRE PhD scholar, is a member of the Health Service Executive (HSE) ‘Healthy Weight for Children’ Working Group. This Group is a sub-group of the National Healthy Childhood Programme Steering Group, co-sponsored by Healthy Eating and Active Living Policy Programme which is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the national obesity policy and action plan.  The aim of the WG is to develop an evidence based framework for prevention of childhood obesity, initially focusing on 0 to 6 years age group.

HBCRG Partner IHFMartia was also appointed to the Irish Heart Foundation Nutrition Council. The IHF Nutrition Council is one of twelve IHF medical councils. The IHF Councils give leadership in Ireland in their respective areas of expertise. The Councils are involved in a range of activities that complement the executive function of the Foundation, such as the supervision/and or preparation of reports and education materials, and organisation of academic meetings and training courses. Periodically the Councils make recommendations on policy issues to the Medical Director of the Foundation for consideration by the Board.


Congratulations to Dr Elaine Toomey on her graduation!

HBCRG EToomey Grad Congratulation to Dr Elaine Toomey on receiving her PhD at a graduation ceremomy in UCD in December 2016. Well done Elaine! ‌Her PhD focused on using mixed methods to evaluate implementation fidelity within behaviour change interventions to promote self-management in people with chronic low back pain and/or osteoarthritis. Elaine is a HRB Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement (ICE) post-doctoral research fellow at the HBCRG. She is currently involved in the development of a complex intervention to enhance infant feeding practices with a goal of improving childhood obesity outcomes. 


Dr Lisa Hynes wins MSD Perpetual Trophy for Science at the West of Ireland Integrated Diabetes Care Conference

HBCRG Diabetes Conf Oct

Dr Lisa Hynes was awarded the MSD Perpetual Trophy for Science at the West of Ireland Integrated Diabetes Care Conference in October 2016. The award acknowledges a qualitative study with young adults with type 1 diabetes, parents and diabetes service providers aimed at understanding the factors that help and hinder type 1 diabetes self-management. Congratulations Lisa!


Prof Jane Speight visits the HBCRG

HBCRG Jane SpeightWe were delighted to welcome Prof Jane Speight to deliver the HBCRG Seminar in October 2016. Prof Speight is Foundation Director of the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes; Chair in Behavioural and Social Research in Diabetes, Deakin University; and Leader, NDSS Mental Health and Diabetes National Development Programme. Prof Speight leads a large and varied programme of research in Australia and the UK, through which she aims to improve the quality of life of people with diabetes and encourage healthcare professionals to better understand the impact of diabetes and its treatment from the individual’s perspective.


IRC Interdisciplinary Research Workshop for Health

IRC Interdisciplinary Research Workshop for Health 2

Dr Molly Byrne led the multi-institutional consortium who organised the  Irish Research Council Interdisciplinary Research Workshop for Health at NUI Galway in September 2016. The workshop attracted over 100 delegates working in health-related research, including academics, researchers, industry, health service providers, and NGOs. The event was a unique networking opportunity featuring expert advice and useful tips from EU project coordinators and partners (Ireland, UK and Germany), National Contact Points, and industry collaborators. Its key aim was to facilitate the creation of long-term interdisciplinary networks for health‐related research, with the target of securing European funding under the upcoming Horizon 2020 Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing Work Programme.  For more info, see HERE. To watch videos of the presentations see You Tube


Launch of IMPRNT - Implementation Science Research Network‌‌

HBCRG IMPRNT logo   HBCRG IMPRNT group

Dr Jenny Mc Sharry was awarded an Irish Research Council New Foundations (2015) grant to increase implementation science capacity in Ireland through the development of the IMPlementation science Resource NeTwork (IMPRNT). A One Day Workshop with national and international speakers was organised to launch IMPRNT in September 2016, followed by a consensus meeting, chaired by Jenny, with national and international members on how best to develop IMPRNT to build implementation science capacity. Contact Jenny for more information at jenny.mcsharry@nuigalway.ie or see HERE


Dr Jenny Mc Sharry part of major £2.5m NIHR Award

HBCRG NIHR logo Dr Jenny Mc Sharry was a co-applicant on a successful £2,511,765 UK National Institute for Health Research Programme Grant for Applied Research project entitled “SUpport through Mobile Messaging and digital health Technology for Diabetes (SuMMiT-D)” awarded in June 2016. The project aims to support people with type 2 diabetes in effective use of their medicine through a system comprising mobile health technology integrated with clinical care. Professor Andrew Farmer at the University of Oxford is PI, and Jenny will lead on the implementation science aspects of the project.


Strength In Numbers Symposium: Teaming up to improve the health of young adults with type 1 diabetes

HBCRG SIN 1 sm

‌‌‌In June 2016 Dr Lisa Hynes members of the HBCRG, in collaboration with colleagues in the School of Medicine, GUH Department of Endocrinology & Diabetes, and D1 Now Young Adult Panel, hosted an international symposium focusing on young adults with type 1 diabetes. The symposium, supported by the IRC and HRB, aimed to reach a consensus on how best to move practice and research forward in this area to improve engagement, self management and ultimately outcomes for young adults living with type1 diabetes. Over 110 delegates attended the conference, 10% of whom were people living with Type 1 diabetes. The symposium was a great success and provided the basis for the research team to develop an application for future research aimed at changing the way health services engage with young adults with type 1 diabetes. For more info, see HERE


CHARMS Study produces training videos for health professionals

HBCRG videosIn February 2016 the HBCRG teamed up with Tocar Productions to produce a series of training videos aimed at health professionals. These videos show examples of best practice in providing sexual counselling to patients with cardiovascular disease. The videos are a key component of the CHARMS Intervention, which aims to increase the provision of sexual counselling in hospital-based cardiac rehabilitation in Ireland. For more information, see HERE


Dr Jenny Mc Sharry visits Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes

HBCRG JMcS Aus SM

In January 2016, Dr Jenny Mc Sharry conducted a research visit to the ACBRD. The Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes is the first national research centre in Australia and internationally, dedicated to investigating the behavioural, psychological and social aspects of diabetes. The Centre’s focus is improving the quality of life of all people with diabetes and their families.