Other Research

Other current and recently completed research projects are investigating/have investigated for the first time in Ireland (and in some cases, also internationally) the following topics.

  • Mental health and well-being in children and young people (e.g. interventions, risk factors, mathematical learning difficulties, social media in relation to aspects of psychological well-being)
  • Individualised funding/personalised budgets for people with disabilities
  • Policies, systems and interventions/supports for the long-term unemployed
  • Online parenting programmes for families
  • Interventions for older people living at home alone
  • Quality of life and supports for retired emergency services personnel
Individualised funding for people with disabilities: the 'EMPOWERABILITY' project


Pádraic Fleming is a PhD scholar on the prestigious HRB-funded SPHeRE (Structured Population Health Services Research Education) doctoral programme. Padraic joined the Centre in 2013 to undertake an evaluation of the development and implementation of ‘individualised funding’ initiatives for people with a disability. His doctoral work, which is funded by Genio (www.genio.ie), is supervised by Professor Sinead McGilloway (Centre Director) and Dr. Sarah Barry (Trinity College Dublin).

Prior to commencing his PhD, Pádraic worked in health and social research for almost 10 years since graduating with an M.Sc. in Applied Social Research from Trinity College Dublin. During that time, Pádraic was awarded a position on the Irish Aid overseas development programme where he worked as United Nations intern with the World Health Organization in Vietnam (2006) based in the Hanoi School of Public Health. He published work spanning projects related to Employment Guidance Services for people with disabilities as well as various research projects undertaken during his time as Research Officer in the Programme Evaluation Unit of the National Cancer Screening Service in Ireland.

In 2014, Padraic was awarded a prestigious Young Forum Gastein Scholarship for the European Health Forum Gastein (EHFG) 2014, offering a unique opportunity to learn about current developments in Europe and to network with a number of high-level experts in the sphere of health. More recently, in 2017, he was appointed to a national Task Force on personalised budgets for people with disabilities.

Current Research

Pádraic’s current research is investigating if individualised funding initiatives are: effective for improving health and social care outcomes; feasible within the Irish context; and, an appropriate mechanism for supporting people with disabilities to gain more choice and control over their lives; independence; and self-determined lives that are fully integrated within the community.

As part of this work, Pádraic has conducted a 15-year trend mapping exercise of traditional day services for people with intellectual disabilities in Ireland. This offers important insights into how emergent trends can inform future direction of disability services, offering internationally relevant recommendations. In parallel, Pádraic has conducted an in-depth qualitative evaluation of four pilot initiatives in Ireland, including a documentary analysis, in-depth interviews and a participatory workshop to present initial findings to research participants and other key stakeholders.

Pádraic is also working on a Campbell Collaboration systematic review to determine if international evidence indicates whether individualised funding is effective at improving a range of health and social care outcomes for people with a disability. Both the Title Registration Form for this work plus the detailed study protocol are available from the Campbell collaboration website (www.campbellcollaboration.org). Please see also our section on Systematic Reviews below.


Unemployment and mental health and well-being: the 'EEPIC' project


Nuala Whelan is an Irish Research Council Employment-based Scholar conducting research on the effectiveness of Ireland’s labour market policy on the well-being and employability of long-term unemployed job seekers. Nuala is the Assistant Manager at Ballymun Job Centre (BJC) and a Registered Work & Organisational Psychologist. She holds a BA (Honours) in Psychology from UCD and an MSc. in Industrial Psychology from the University of Hull, UK.

With 18 years’ experience working with clients who are disadvantaged in the labour market, Nuala’s main areas of interest lie in exploring the varying levels of employment service effectiveness, the lack of consistency in approach and the underestimation of the potential impact of enhancing human capacity for development and organisational success. Her research to date has focused on the effectiveness of the employment services in assisting service users to overcome the negative psychological impacts of unemployment, the evidence base against which job support interventions are selected, the impact of the service design on the job satisfaction and motivation of staff, and the perception of employment services within the community.

Since 2003 Nuala has been involved in securing significant EU funding through the Lifelong Learning Programme (Leonardo da Vinci strand), EQUAL (ESF) and more recently Erasmus+, and during this time, managed eight applied research projects, each with a two-year duration. Research Interests include psychological impact of labour market policy and its implementation, long term unemployment, Youth unemployment, effective career guidance for disadvantaged job seekers, Labour market Activation models, Community impact, Social Investment, Well-being at work.

Current Research

Ireland’s labour market landscape has changed dramatically, with rapid unemployment growth, changes in labour market policy and institutional reform. With long-term unemployment accounting for 54% of the total unemployment in Q3 2015 (CSO, 2015), effective labour activation policies are imperative to improve employment prospects and, in turn, overall well-being. There is a significant knowledge gap in the psychological literature at both a national and international level on evidence-informed practice in employment services and on using positive psychology approaches and strength-based models, to assist service users to develop sustainable careers and have positive well-being outcomes, thereby having real impact on communities. This research attempts to address this important gap.

The EEPIC (Enhancing Employability through Positive Interventions for increasing Career potential) study – which is supervised by Professor Sinead McGilloway (Centre Director) and Dr Mary Murphy (MU Department of Sociology)  – is assessing the implementation and effectiveness of Ireland’s labour activation policy, the Pathways to Work Programme, in assisting jobseekers to overcome the negative psychological impact of unemployment, whilst also enhancing their employment opportunities, building career efficacy and improving overall well-being. The study will also assess the impact of the policy on the job satisfaction of frontline employment services staff as well as how the employment services are perceived within the community.

A mixed methods/multi-strategy design is being used, including a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of a high support career guidance intervention on the well-being, hopefulness, self-efficacy and employability of the long term unemployed.  The ability of labour activation models to moderate the negative impact of unemployment on well-being and increase the employability of job seekers will be explored.

Investigating mental health risk factors in children and supporting their mental health through parenting

Fionnola Kelly is a PhD scholar on the SPHeRE (Structured Population Health Services Research Education) programme and is based at the School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin. Her principal supervisor is Professor Kathleen Bennett, TCD and her two co- supervisors are Professor Sinead McGilloway, Maynooth University and Professor Anne Hickey, RCSI.

Fionnola holds a BA in Sociology from Queens University Belfast and a Masters degree from the University of Ulster. Prior to commencing her PhD, Fionnola was employed in the Health Research Board (HRB) as a Research Officer. As an employee of the HRB, she was responsible for the management of two National Databases: The National Drug Treatment Reporting System (NDTRS) and the National Intellectual Disability Database (NIDD). Fionnola has also worked as a Data Analyst in the ESRI and was responsible for analysing HIPE data (hospital inpatient data), which included over one million cases. Fionnola is a proficient SPSS user and was employed as an SPSS consultant with SPSS Ireland where she provided professional training in data analysis, data collection techniques and research methodologies. Fionnola has authored (and co-authored) many publications to date including peer-reviewed international journal articles, annual reports, conference papers and other academic publications.

Current Research

The aim of Fionnola’s doctoral research is: (1) to identify mental health risk factors in Irish children; and (2) to undertake a pilot evaluation of an online parenting intervention for improving children’s mental health. The supervisory committee includes Professor Kathleen Bennett (TCD) (Principal Supervisor), Professor Anne Hickey (RCSI) and Professor Sinead McGilloway (Centre Director).

Investigating and challenging social media use in young adolescents

Fiona Flynn holds a BSc (Hons) degree in Social Psychology from the University of Ulster and an MA in Psychology in Human Resource Management from University College Cork. After a successful career as a Human Resource Manager and later as Director of a corporate training and development consultancy, Fiona made a career change in 2005, to work in the area of youth mental health. She commenced work with a team of psychologists, delivering and evaluating a school based, evidence based suicide prevention programme. Fiona has a passion for youth mental health and since 2009, she has been working with Bodywhys in developing programmes to promote positive body image and self-esteem in children and adolescents.


Current Research

Social media use has rapidly become a central part of young people’s lives with over 90% now using social media (day and night) and over three-quarters using at least one social media site. Research indicates that widespread use of social media presents new challenges to youth mental health and to society more generally, but that there are many gaps in our understanding and knowledge.

Fiona Flynn has secured a prestigious Irish Research Council PhD scholarship to undertake an employment-based piece of research in collaboration with Bodywhys (www.bodywhys.ie) and under the supervision of Professor Sinead McGilloway (Centre Director) and Dr Catriona O’Toole, Department of Education, Maynooth University. Fiona will be investigating the impact of social media on body image and self-esteem in secondary school children, and subsequently developing and evaluating an intervention aimed at addressing issues related to social media in young people. This important and timely research is the most recent addition to our portfolio of research projects and programmes in the Centre.

Intervening with primary school children to improve their mental health and well-being

Penny Quinn is a Research Assistant on an Enterprise Ireland-funded pilot project led by Professor Sinéad McGilloway (Centre Director) and being undertaken in collaboration with a company/social enterprise called Life Matters. Penny holds a BA (Hons) degree (1.1) in Psychology from Maynooth University as well as Certificates in both Psychology and Counselling. She has over two years’ research and teaching assistant experience in the Centre for Mental Health and Community Research where she has worked on a variety of topics in the field of mental health and well-being including self-harm, interventions for children and adults with learning difficulties and services aimed at supporting potentially vulnerable parents.

Current Research

Penny’s current research – which is supervised by Professor Sinead McGilloway (Centre Director)  – seeks to evaluate the effectiveness and implementation of a new mental health and well-being intervention called the ‘Buddy Bench Aware Programme’ (BBAP) that is currently being delivered to primary school children in Ireland. This school- based, child-led, positive mental health promotion intervention/programme aims to promote children’s emotional resilience, by amongst other things, encouraging the development of conflict-management skills in order to reduce/relieve anxiety, stress, and feelings of isolation. The programme also encourages and teaches compassion, kindness and empathy.

Communication Skills Training in Health Care Professionals working in end-of- life care

Christine Mulligan is currently a Research Assistant in the Centre for Mental Health and Community Research. Christine completed a BA (Hons) (1.1) degree in Psychology at Maynooth University (2017) and her previous qualifications include a Diploma in Counselling and a Certificate in Applied Social Studies.  Before returning to full-time education, Christine accumulated over 20 years’ experience in a number of sectors including management, administration and the voluntary sector.

Current Research

Christine was awarded a prestigious Health Research Board Summer Scholarship (www.hrb.ie) in June 2016, during which time she worked under the supervision of Dr Kathleen McLoughlin and Professor Sinead McGilloway. Her research investigated the effectiveness of an Advanced Communication and Skills Training Course (ACST) designed to support health care professionals working in palliative and life-limiting care settings. This work was conducted in collaboration with Milford Care Centre, a key provider of end-of- life care in Ireland (www.milfordcarecentre.ie).  For her final year undergraduate project, Christine carried out further research on ACST with a sample of senior health care professionals in Northern Ireland. She is currently preparing this and her earlier work for distribution and publication in collaboration with Dr Kathleen McLoughlin (UCC and Affiliate Member of the Centre) and Professor Sinead McGilloway (Centre Director).

Systematic Reviews

Our Centre staff and affiliates are currently involved in five Cochrane and/or Campbell Collaboration- systematic reviews which are being conducted in collaboration with national and international colleagues. For more information on systematic reviews and systematic review training, please see the PRISM page of the website.


1. Personal Budgeting Interventions to Improve Health and Social Care Outcomes for People with a Disability: A Systematic Review

Padraic Fleming1, Mairead Furlong1, Sinead McGilloway1, Fiona Keogh2, Marian Hernon3, Tim Stainton4

  1. Centre for Mental Health and Community Research, Maynooth University
  2. Centre for Economic and Social Research in Dementia, NUI Galway
  3. School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science, Health Sciences Centre, University College Dublin
  4. School of Social Work & Centre for Inclusion and Citizenship, University of British Columbia, Canada

Link: https://www.campbellcollaboration.org/library/personal-budgeting-outcomes-people-with-disability.html   (Protocol)

Photo of Stakeholder Seminar on Personalised Budgets, Centre for Mental Health and Community Research, Maynooth University.


2. Preschool and school-based mindfulness programmes for improving mental health and cognitive functioning in young people aged 3 to 18 years

Catriona O’Toole1, Mairead Furlong2, Sinead McGilloway2 and Arild Bjørndal3

  1. Department of Education, Maynooth University
  2. Centre for Mental Health and Community Research, Maynooth University
  3. Regional Centre for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Eastern and Southern Norway (RBUP) and University of Oslo, Norway

The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD012518. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012518.

Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD012518/pdf   (Protocol)


3. Interventions to improve mathematical performance for children with mathematical learning difficulties

Mairead Furlong1, Feargal McLoughlin2, Sinead McGilloway,1 David Gearyand Brian Butterworth4

  1. Centre for Mental Health and Community Research, Maynooth University
  2. Health Service Executive, Dublin.
  3. Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, USA.
  4. Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London.

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 10, Art.No.: CD0120130.

DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012130

Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD012130/full (Protocol)

A frustrated, upset child, or child with learning difficulties.


4. Community-led practical and/or social support interventions for adults living at home with palliative and end of life care needs

Kathleeen McLoughlin1,2, Mairead, Furlong2, Joanne Callinan3, Emilio Herrera-Molina4, Jim Rhatigan3 and Sinead McGilloway2 (2015)

  1. University College Cork
  2. Centre for Mental Health and Community Research
  3. Milford Care Centre, Limerick, Ireland
  4. New Health Foundation, Spain 

The Campbell Collaboration Library (Social Welfare), Title Registration for a Systematic Review Proposal pp.1-13.

Link: https://www.campbellcollaboration.org/library/community-led-support-interventions-at-home-palliative-end-of-life-care.html


5. Family-based interventions to improve outcomes in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus

Khadija Hasan1, Seamus Cowman1, Susan Dovey1, Susan Smith1, Sinead McGilloway2 and David Whitford1

  1. Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
  2. Centre for Mental Health and Community Research, Maynooth University