2016: 12 Health Psychology Highlights in Galway

Eimear Morrissey & Angeline Traynor

2016 was a good year for us here in NUIG. While there were many highlights, here are twelve of the best.

  1. Psychology, Health & Medicine Conferenceucc-bis-pageheaders-06-v1

Teresa Corbett receiving the Ruth Curtis Award for Excellence in Postgraduate Research from Prof. Ruth Curtis. Teresa is a founding member of this blog and completed her PhD this year. She has a taken a position as a Research Fellow at the Centre for Applied Health Psychology at the University of Southampton. Congrats Teresa!

The Division of Health Psychology’s annual Psychology, Health and Medicine Conference was a particularly good one for us here in Galway. Held in the beautiful UCC campus (it’s always great to get a chance to travel to the real capital) in May, our own Molly Byrne keynoted at the event. Molly delivered an excellent talk on how behavioural intervention researched has evolved, changed and improved over the last decade. The newly set up Special Interest Group in Paediatric Psychology (SIGPeP) held a fantastic symposium, including talks from PhD students Jennifer Keane, Hannah Durand and Angeline Traynor.  The DHP’s awards were also given out at the event and NUIG’s Teresa Corbett won the Ruth Curtis Excellence in Postgraduate Research. Congrats also to Lisa Mellon from RCSI who won the Hannah McGee Excellence in Research award.


Dr. Molly Byrne giving a keynote lecture at the Psychology, Health and Medicine Conference in UCC.


imprnt-logo-smallThe gap between research evidence and routine practice is a consistent feature of healthcare delivery. Effective interventions exist to address many health problems but the gap between what we know and what we do is a major risk to international health. This year, Jenny McSharry was award a New Foundations grant from the Irish Research Council to set up the Implementation Science Research Network (IMPRNT). The network was launched with a one-day workshop in NUIG last October which was attended by national and international experts in the area. Jenny has written a super informative blog post on the network and workshop which you can read here.

  1. EHPS

As always, the European Health Psychology Society (EHPS) conference in August was marked into our calendars. It was always going to be a difficult job to beat the sunny Cyprus conference of 2015 but Aberdeen definitely equalled it (in terms of learning, socialising and fun….maybe not in terms of the weather)!  Some of our PhD cohort enjoyed an excellent CREATE pre-conference workshop on mixed methods and Eimear Morrissey was brought onto the CREATE committee as Treasurer. Milou Fredrix has written an excellent blog post on the workshop. Two symposia were led by NUIG, the first on ‘Systematic reviews of behaviour change interventions: using BCT taxonomies for evidence synthesis’ chaired by Milou Fredrix and the second on ‘Adherence to medications: evidence synthesis strategies for intervention development’ chaired by Gerry Molloy.

  1. MSc news – reaccreditation, graduation and a new cohort!

Congrats to the MSc class of 2015/2016!

In July of this year the Psychological Society of Ireland sent an expert panel to assess the MSc in Health Psychology. Assessment from the PSI occurs periodically in order to have continued accreditation. We were delighted to learn that after spending the day talking to staff and students (past and present), the panel gave the MSc full reaccreditation with the PSI. The MSc class of 2015-2016 graduated in November and a new cohort started in September.

  1. Strength in Numbers

Delegates and speakers at the Strength in Numbers Conference

One of the biggest highlights of the years was undoubtedly the Strength in Numbers


Lisa Hynes (also a founding member of this blog) presented with flowers after the Strength in Numbers Conference to thank her for all her work in diabetes in Galway. Lisa completed her post-doc over the summer and has taken a position in the paediatric psychology lad at West Virginia University. Good luck Lisa!

conference and hackathon that took place in June. Research in Type I diabetes is one of the main focuses of the health psychology group in NUIG. The wonderful Lisa Hynes and MaryClare O Hara led a three day international symposium on diabetes services and the needs of young adults with Type I diabetes. This included a hackathon, where software developers, engineers and designers came together with people with Type I diabetes and healthcare professionals, to identify technology solutions to better support young adults with Type I diabetes. Lisa and MaryClare recently wrote a report on the symposium for the EHP bulletin – read here.

  1. NUIG Go Down Under

The International Congress of Behavioural Medicine (ICBM) held their biennial meeting in Melbourne, Australia this December. NUIG were well represented by Gerry Molloy, Molly Byrne and Jenny McSharry.  Gerry presented some of his ongoing work in medication adherence and Molly and Jenny spoke on the ongoing work of the HBCRG. More information about the conference can be seen here.


Jenny McSharry and Molly Byrne in a symposium group at ICBM.

  1. Irish Canada University Foundation Flaherty Visiting Professorship Award 2016-2017

This summer Molly Byrne was awarded a Flaherty Visiting Professorship Award to develop international links between NUI Galway and the Montreal Behavioural Medicine Centre and develop the International Behavioural Trials Network. The award supports 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 (http://ibtnetwork.org/). At the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the Behaviour Change Institute in Nova Scotia, Molly will collaborate to build international research in the emerging areas of Implementation Science and health promotion interventions for young adults with Type 1 diabetes.

  1. mHealth conference mhealth

The mHealth research group in the School of Psychology has become well-established over the past two years. This year we held our second mHealth conference in June, led by Jane Walsh. The line-up included speakers from Ireland, the UK, US and Canada. It was a very successful event and more can be read about it here.

  1. Establishment of the Structured PhD in Health Psychology Practise in September

phdLast year guidelines for professional training in health psychology in Ireland were produced by the Division of Health Psychology and ratified by the PSI. A working group within the DHP, chaired by Molly Byrne, developed the guidelines for professional health psychology training by reviewing the approaches to existing courses, particularly in the UK, consulting with course developers and providers as well as people working locally and farther afield as health psychologists. As a result a Structured PhD in Health Psychology Practise has been established here in the School of Psychology at NUIG. You can read more about the course here or email molly.byrne@nuigalway.ie or jenny.mcsharry@nuigalway.ie for more details. We are really excited to be able to move forward in the development of health psychology here, particularly by setting up and strengthening our links with hospital and community based health settings.

  1. Connaught Summer Institute in Pain

Siobhan O Higgins, Brian Slattery and Angeline Traynor at the Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto

In July some of our group were delighted to pack up and head off to the first annual Connaught Summer Institute in Pain hosted by the University of Toronto and Centre for the Study of Pain. Brian Slattery, Siobhan O’Higgins and Angeline Traynor were among 10 International postgraduate and postdoctoral students accepted onto this exciting new programme.


Angeline Traynor presenting her research at the Connaught Summer School

The theme of the Summer Institute was the integration of research and clinical practice with a focus on knowledge translation. In support of this theme, a total of 37 trainees were brought together with internationally recognized pain investigators, clinicians, patients and University of Toronto, Centre for the Study of Pain faculty for an intensive four-day workshop, culminating in a scientific meeting on the fifth day. Trainees were a mixed group of novice and advanced pain management researchers and clinicians in basic science and clinical research. Each morning the workshop opened with a selection of educational sessions focused on nociceptive pain, neuropathic pain, chronic cancer and non-cancer pain. Afternoons sessions changed gear with an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration and group-based educational and interactive learning opportunities. The close of each day focused on knowledge translation, individual research challenges and Q&A sessions with attending experts including internationally recognized leaders in the field of pain research and management: Dr. Michael Salter, Dr. Andrea Furlan, Dr. Jennifer Stinson and Dr. Bonnie Stevens, and Dr. Melanie Barwick, an expert in implementation science and knowledge translation.

For the Irish cohort, the fun didn’t stop there. Thanks to Dr. Jennifer Stinson and her team Brian, Siobhan and Angeline were given a tour of the very impressive Hospital for Sick Kids and adjoining research facilities including Dr. Stinson’s lab where we experience the latest in virtual reality and robotic digital health technology being used improve pain and distress in children with cancer. A return trip is highly recommended!


V. impressed with the robot!

  1. Elaine wins at transparency!


Elaine Toomey from the Health Behaviour Change Research Group recently received a significant international award, the Leamer-Rosenthal Prize for Open Social Science, which was awarded at the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences 2016 Annual Meeting in California. Elaine was awarded a prize valued at $10,000 within the Emerging Researchers category, acknowledging her significant work in the area of implementation fidelity in the health sciences. Further details at http://www.bitss.org/2016/12/15/winners-of-2016-leamer-rosenthal-prizes-for-open-social-science/

  1. Succesful bid to host EHPS 2018

In possibly the most exciting highlight of all, it was announced in August that Galway would host EHPS in 2016. We have already kicked into preparation mode and are absolutely delighted to be welcoming health psychology researchers from all around Europe (and further afield) to Galway in summer 2018!


In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you. We are always looking for contributors to the blog from Galway and further afield so if you are interested please get in touch!


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