World Health Organization Collaborative Cross-National Study

The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey is a WHO collaborative cross-national study that monitors the health behaviours, health outcomes and social environments of school-aged children every four years. HBSC Ireland surveys school-going children aged 9-18 years. The study is conducted by the HBSC Ireland team, based at the Health Promotion Research Centre, NUI Galway.
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Principal Investigator 

Prof. Saoirse Nic Gabhainn

Saoirse Nic Gabhainn is a Professor in Health Promotion and Project Leader in the Health Promotion Research Centre and co-Director of the World Health Organisation Collaborative Centre for Health Promotion Research. Educated in University College Galway (BA, MA) and the University of Nottingham (PhD), she has been Principal Investigator of HBSC Ireland since 1994. Within the international HBSC study, Saoirse has been chair of study focus groups on Sexual Health and Risk Behaviours, and deputy chair of the Scientific Development Group. She is currently co-chair of the Policy Development Group and a member of the overall study Co-ordinating Committee.


Co-principal Investigator

Prof. Colette Kelly 

Colette Kelly is a Professor in the Discipline of Health Promotion and Director of the  Health Promotion Research Centre. Colette is a Registered Public Health Nutritionist and has previously worked as a nutrition consultant and in public health nutrition. Educated in the University of Reading (PhD) and University of Aberdeen (MSc), Colette is also a graduate of University College Galway (BSc).

Colette chairs the Youth Engagement group and is a former chair and current member of the Eating and Dieting group within the international HBSC network. Colette is leading on the involvement of youth within the HBSC project, both at a national and international level. Research interests include child and adolescent health, nutrition, food environments and participative research. 

Senior Researchers

Dr. András Költő

András Költő is a postdoctoral researcher within the Health Promotion Research Centre. He earned his MA degree in Psychology in 2008. He also completed post-graduate training in Psychology of Health Promotion, and holds a PhD in Experimental Psychology. He is an alumni of Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Budapest, Hungary. He was a member of the Hungarian HBSC Team since 2010, and is the Chair of the Sexual Health Focus Group within the international HBSC Network since 2016. His research interests include hypnosis, hypnotic susceptibility, and psycho-social factors related to hypnotic responsiveness; health psychology and psycho-neuro-immunology; and adolescent mental and sexual health. From 2015 he served as a Senior Lecturer at ELTE, teaching various subjects, including affective psychology, research methods, and counselling in health psychology. 

Dr. Elena Vaughan

Elena is a post-doctoral researcher in the Health Promotion Research Centre in NUI Galway. Her PhD research investigated HIV-related stigma in the Irish context. Specifically her work explored the relationship between media driven discourses of HIV and the embodied and enacted stigma experiences of people living with HIV in Ireland. Her research interests include HIV and sexual health, women and HIV, LGBT health, health related stigmas, and social and structural determinants of health.



Ms. Laura Farrell

Laura Farrell is a full-time research assistant with the Health Promotion Research Centre. She graduated from the National University of Ireland, Galway with a BA in Psychology in 2021. During her final year, she completed a research project that investigated the effects of COVID-19 on undergraduate college students’ mental health. This allowed her to gain valuable experience in data collection, data analysis and report writing. Laura will be primarily working on the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Study while also contributing her skills and knowledge to ongoing research within the research team. She is eager to advance her research skills and assist the research team in various projects. Laura is particularly interested in the health and well-being of school-aged children. 

Ms. Aoife Gavin

Aoife Gavin is a researcher within the Health Promotion Research Centre.  She is a graduate of Brock University in Ontario, Canada with a BA in Community Health Sciences as well as NUI Galway with a MA in Health Promotion.  Her current research interests include: the health and well-being of young people particularly children with disability or chronic illness.  

Ms. Aisling Harrington

Aisling Harrington is a research assistant with the Health Promotion Research Centre and works on Health Promotion Actions for NUI Galway Campus with Student Services. She is a graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Limerick with a BA in Early Childhood Care and Education and the National University of Ireland, Galway with a MA in Health Promotion. Her research interests surround the physical, social, sexual and mental health and wellbeing of those in third level educational settings, health enhancing environments and eco-psychology.

Ms. Olivia Lennox

Olivia Lennox is a research assistant with the Health Promotion Research Centre (HPRC) and is currently working on the HBSC study. Olivia completed her undergraduate degree in psychology in the National University of Ireland Galway where she enjoyed studying Health Psychology and Developmental Psychology among other modules. For her thesis, she investigated preschool parents’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices in promoting children’s social development. Olivia’s areas of interest include parental influence on the health and wellbeing of school-aged children as well as the risky behaviors, sexual health, and nutrition of adolescents.

Ms. Louise Lunney

Louise Lunney is a research assistant with the Health Promotion Research Centre working on the HBSC study. She is a graduate of Maynooth University with a BA in Psychology and of University College Cork with a MA in Applied Psychology. Louise’s research interests include young people’s mental health and well-being and environmental psychology.

Ms. Katie Monahan

Katie Monahan is a research assistant working on the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Study (HBSC). Katie holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology from the National University of Ireland, Galway and a master’s degree in Applied Psychology from Trinity College, Dublin. Katie enjoyed modules in ‘Health Psychology’ and ‘Applied Developmental Psychology’. She has a keen interest in research, having published a study on menstrual pain in an international research journal. Katie is also interested in the mental health and wellbeing of children and adolescents. Her postgraduate research focused on the socio-emotional outcomes of preterm and full-term children in different quality caregiving environments. Katie is excited to help the HBSC team achieve their project goals and build upon her research skills while working on this cross-national research study.

Ms. Larri (Lorraine) Walker

Larri Walker has worked within the Department of Health Promotion since 1996.  She has provided support on various research projects including HBSC (since 2006), Childrens Understanding of Health and Well being, General Healthcare Study of the Irish Prisoners Population, The Impact of Alcohol Advertising on Teenagers in Ireland ,  SLAN & HBSC 1998 and the National Survey of General Practitioners 1996. 

Ms. Geraldine Nolan

BSc, Msc Lecturer 
Geraldine Nolan is a lecturer in the Departments of Health Promotion, and Biochemistry at the National University of Ireland, Galway.  She previously worked as a nutritionist in both clinical and public health settings. Geraldine's research interests include effective nutrition interventions; best practice for community nutrition and dietetic services in delivery of service or clients with eating disorders and nutrition needs of asylum seekers. 


PHD Students

Ms. Mary Callaghan

Mary Callaghan is a part-time PhD student within the Health Promotion Research Centre.  She is a graduate of the National University of Ireland Galway with a BA in Geography and Irish, and a postgraduate diploma in Health Promotion.  She has also completed a MSc in Geographic Information Systems at the University of Ulster, Coleraine.   She is a member of the Violence & Injury Prevention Group and the early career group within the international HBSC network.  Her research interests include the effects of the environment on health, the nutritional environment of schools, electronic media contact and school bullying. 

Ms. Ruchika Tara Mathur 

Ruchika Tara Mathur is a full-time PhD student in Health Promotion with the School of Health Sciences at the National University of Ireland Galway. She is an alum of Trinity College Dublin with an MSc in Development Practice, and of Lady Shri Ram College in New Delhi with a BA in Political Science. Ruchika has been working as an implementor, peer-educator and researcher in sexual and reproductive health and rights with organisations such as Oxfam, Ipas and the Population Council. She is interested in learning about and contributing to the field of knowledge on adolescent and youth participation in health services. 


Placement Students

Ms. Marley Denierio

Marley Denierio is a current candidate for MB BChBAO in Medicine at NUIG. Her prior combination of undergraduate and graduate degrees with focuses in biomedical sciences, health equity and medical anthropology, combined with her community volunteerism has influenced her work. She has conducted field and laboratory research examining medical and paleopathology outcomes. As a life long advocate for LGBTQ+ equity and HIV/AIDS advocacy, her career and research goals include improving access to quality healthcare and limiting the negative impacts on health quality due to stigma impacting underserved  communities. She aims to aid in the effort to combat health disparities that exist on a local, community and global scale.

Ms. Julia MacAulay 

Julia MacAulay is a fourth year medical student completing her degree at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG). Julia’s passionate interest in LGBTQ+ health and well-being was discovered when working at a Women’s Health Clinic back home in Canada. She joined the HBSC Ireland team last year and has been working towards developing her own research projects, as well as helping the HBSC team complete their goals. Julia’s research interests include mental health / wellbeing and sexual minority health outcomes. 

Ms. Onyenankeya Nnenna

Onyenankeya Nnenna is a student of the MA Health Promotion 2021-2022 full- time programme in NUIG. Nnenna has an undergraduate degree in Medicine in 2017 at Nizhny Novgorod medical academy Russia. She worked as a General practitioner at 2 different Government hospitals in Nigeria for 3years.
Her experience working in a 3rd world country made her inquisitive on cardiovascular and sexual health in women and adolescent hence my motivation to return to Academics.
Nnenna is particularly interested in Health behaviors research among diverse population in prevention of Cardiovascular disease and is looking forward to improving her medical career with a different holistic view and impacting on the quality of life of the people in her country. 

Ms. Lilly O'Toole

Lilly O'Toole is a visiting student from the University of North Carolina where she recently completed the first year of her Master of Public Health. Her passions include population-based prevention, social determinants of health, transformative justice, community-based participatory research, and human rights-based approaches to health. At UNC, Lilly serves as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Re-Envisioning Health & Justice Lab where she aims to address the ever-growing opioid epidemic among individuals impacted by the justice system. During her summer internship at the Health Promotion Research Centre, she will focus on creating an advocacy tool for the on-campus student food pantry as well as a short report of the pilot data for the Health Behavior for School Children (HBSC) survey. Lilly is thrilled to translate and apply her skills in a real-world setting like the Health Promotion Research Centre while surrounded by a group of phenomenal researchers from around the globe.


HBSC Collaborators

Kieran Walsh completed his PhD in psychosocial ageing in the University of Limerick, where he remained as a lecturer until joining HBSC Ireland in November 2005. Kieran worked as a senior researcher in the HPRC with responsibility for translating the 2002 findings into policy and practice. His research interests include health care inequity, social inequality and adolescent health and well-being. Kieran is currently working in the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology, NUIG.

Dr. Brian McGrath is a lecturer in the Department of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway and the Programme Director of the MA in Community Development. He holds an MA from NUI Galway and PhD from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.  He has previously worked as a principal researcher on international collaborative research in the area of rural youth and development policy. His main interest is in exploring the rural-urban dimensions of young people's behaviour and experiences.

Cecily Kelleher is Professor of Public Health Medicine and Epidemiology and Head of Ireland’s first School of Public Health and Population Science at University College Dublin. Prior to this she was foundation chair of Health Promotion at National University of Ireland Galway and Scientific Staff member at the Medical Research Council Epidemiology and Medical Care Unit. She has researched and published widely on the social and life-course determinants of heart disease and has participated in numerous population surveillance projects and settings based evaluations of health promotion action research in schools, workplace and primary care.


Previous HBSC Ireland team members:

Dr. Graham Brennan, Dr. Lorraine Burke, Ms. Mary Callaghan,  Ms. Natasha Clarke, Ms. Pauline Clerkin, Mr. Simon Comer, Mr. Greg Conlon, Ms. Mary Cooke, Ms. Helen Corrigan, Dr. Gail Cummins, Ms. Katie Cunningham, Dr. Maureen D'Eath, Mr.  Eoin Dennehy, Ms. Aingeal de Roiste, Ms. Priscilla Doyle, Ms. Kiah Finnegan, Dr. Amanda Fitzgerald, Ms. Cliona Fitzpatrick, Dr. Kathy Ann Fox, Dr. Jakub Gajewski, Ms. Marie Galvin, Ms. Aisling Harrington, Ms. Martha Higgins, Dr. Martin Javornicky, Ms. Aileen Kavanagh, Dr. Eimear Keane, Ms. Emer McCarthy, Professor Michal Molcho, Mr. Trevor Moylan, Ms. Katie Murphy, Dr. Siobhan O'Higgins, Ms. Catherine Perry, Ms. Divya Ravikumar, Dr. Mariane Sentenac, Ms. Leah Tyrrell, Professor Kieran Walsh, Ms. Pamela Wong, Dr. Honor Young.    


Previous Placement Students:

Ms. Damilola Awobiyi, Ms. Aisling Beckwith, Ms. Catriona Boyle, Ms. Ailish Brick, Ms. Patricia Brien, Ms. Nathália Cerca, Ms. Clare Conte, Ms. Lydia Courtney, Ms Sarah Courtney, Ms. Megan Curran, Mr. Eoin Dennehy, Ms. Eadaoin Farragher, Ms. Hannah Ferguson, Ms Kiah Finnegan, Ms. Ciara Forde, Ms. Diana Frasquilho Guerreiro, Ms. Sonja-Mareike Freiling, Ms. Aoife Gavin, Mr. Jakub Gajewski, Ms. Patricia Harte, Mr. Huthaifa Kazim, Ms. Sarah Keenan, Ms. Skye Keene-Babcock, Ms. Helena Keller, Ms. Samantha Loughrey, Ms. Lisa Lyons, Ms. Rachael Maloney, Mr. Peter Manley, Ms Laura Mannix, Ms. Geraldine Martyn, Ms. Laura Mullally, Ms. Brenda Murphy, Ms. Margaret O'Donnell, Ms. Linda O'Keefe, Dr. Ailbhe Spillane, Ms. Susan Spillane, Ms. Ellen Stafford, Dr. Lindsay Sullivan.