Keep Up-To-Date

Read the latest news and updates from the psychology team at NCI. Here you will find information on our latest events and research, including projects, funding, conferences, and collaborations.

ProBrain Lab & Alzheimer Society of Ireland Report Launch

May 2024

Dr Michelle Kelly, Dr Caoimhe Hannigan and the research team at the ProBrain Lab, along with project partners at the Alzheimer Society of Ireland will host their report launch: Cognitive Stimulation Therapy for People with Dementia: An evaluation of barriers and facilitators to intervention delivery in Ireland on the 22nd of May in NCIs Mayor Square Campus. The report details the results of their Irish Research Council (IRC)-funded project which found that:

  • People with dementia and their families, as well as healthcare and policy professionals are motivated to support increased availability of Cognitive Stimulation Therapy in Ireland.
  • Key barriers and facilitators to offering Cognitive Stimulation Therapy include funding, staff capacity, communication amongst healthcare professionals, coordinated approaches to delivery, and awareness of the benefits of CST.

Keynote Speech at 16th International Dementia Conference

May 2024

Dr Michelle Kelly and Dr Caoimhe Hannigan (ProBrain Lab) were invited to deliver a keynote presentation at the 16th International Dementia Conference hosted by Engaging Dementia in Westmeath on May 8th and 9th 2024. Their presentation was entitled: “Increasing the availability of evidence-based interventions for people with dementia in Ireland: Findings from the FAB-CST study”.

NCI Assistant Professor Dr Lynn Farrell elected Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) for the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science’s UK and Republic of Ireland Chapter

May 2024

Dr Lynn Farrell has been elected as Director of EDI for the UK and Republic of Ireland Chapter of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACSB). ACBS is an international organization dedicated to research and practice grounded in contextual behavioural science with a goal to harness this work to alleviate human suffering and advance human well-being. The role of Director of EDI is a new role established by the UK and Republic of Ireland ACBS Chapter and will involve assisting the board in centering EDI concerns and developing initiatives and policies to address the Chapter memberships’ specific needs in this domain.

Presentation at Equitas EDI in Practice in Higher Education conference

May 2024

Dr Amanda Kracen collaborated with Daire Dempsey, Policy Officer of the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI), to present at the Equitas EDI in Practice in Higher Education conference in Limerick on May 23rd and 24th. Their presentation was entitled: Affirming transgender and gender expansive students who study internationally.

Dr. Michele Kehoe Graduation

April 2024

The psychology team would like to extend our sincere congratulations to our colleague, Dr Michele Kehoe, on her graduation from the D.Ed at Trinity College Dublin, School of Education. Michele’s thesis was titled: Thinking, Feeling, Including: An Exploratory Study of Emotional Intelligence and Attitudes and Intentions Towards Inclusion Among a Sample of Irish Primary School Teachers. A huge congratulations on completing this important and meaningful piece of work.

17th Annual Psychological Society of Ireland, Divison of Behaviour Analysis Conference

April 2024

Dr Michelle Kelly and Dr Conor Nolan organised the 17th Annual Psychological Society of Ireland, Divison of Behaviour Analysis Conference. The conference was held in Galway, and was the largest conference of the division to date. Invited speakers included Dr. Patrick C. Friman (University of Nebraska), Professor Carl Hughes (Bangor University), Dr Sarah Cassidy, and Dr Ciara Gunning (Galway University). The two day conference featured workshops, key note talks, research symposia and sessions and poster presentations. Dr Michelle Kelly is the Chairperson of the Division of Behaviour Analysis and Dr Conor Nolan is the Secretary.

36th Global Conference of Alzheimer's Disease International

April 2024

Dr Caoimhe Hannigan and Dr Michelle Kelly at the ProBrain Lab presented the findings from their IRC-funded study at the 36th Global Conference of Alzheimer's Disease International on 24-26 April 2024. The poster presentation was entitled “Facilitators and barriers to offering Cognitive Stimulation Therapy Groups to People with Dementia in Ireland (FAB-CST)”.

Rooted in Care: A Gathering of Breast Cancer Nurse Leaders

April 2024

Dr Amanda Kracen gave an invited talk at the Rooted in Care: A Gathering of Breast Cancer Nurse Leaders meeting held in Athlone on April 12th. Her talk was entitled Here Comes the Sun: Shining Light on Well-Being & Fulfillment in Oncology.

All-Ireland Psychology Student Congress 2024

March 2024

Congratulations to the final year students who presented their research at the All-Ireland Psychology Student Congress 2024, hosted by Dublin City University. Belinda Anne Waddell, Emma McCann and Molly Shields presented their final year projects and represented NCI to an excellent standard!

All-Ireland Psychology Student Congress 2024

March 2024

The ProBrain Lab directors, Dr Caoimhe Hannigan and Dr Michelle Kelly, along with Dr Joanna McHugh-Power in Maynooth University and Dr Mario Parra in the University of Strathclyde hosted a Special Issue in Frontiers in Psychology on “Brain Health: Risk Resilience and Reserve”. The Special Issue included seven research articles from around the world, advancing literature on how to promote brain health across the lifespan and including practical clinical recommendations. For further information, please see Editorial: Brain health: risk, resilience and reserve.

Irish Psychosocial Oncology Network’s national meeting

March 2024

Dr Amanda Kracen served as the conference chair of the Irish Psychosocial Oncology Network’s national meeting, which was held at St James's Hospital on 13 March 2024. The conference was supported by National College of Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, and the National Cancer Control Programme and endorsed by the International Psycho-Oncology Society.

The conference theme was: Enhancing Psychosocial Cancer Care and Survivorship in Ireland: We Are All in it Together. The conference drew researchers, clinicians, and public policy professionals across many disciplines, including nursing, psychiatry, psychology, social work, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and more. Over 150 attendees enjoyed a keynote talk from esteemed researcher, Dr Claire Foster, University of Southampton, as well as clinical and research talks and poster presentations.

NCI had good representation at the conference. In addition to Amanda, Isaiah Gitonga (Associate Faculty) and Laura Curran (doctoral student) presented research at the conference, and Sarah McCann was one of only two undergraduates who attended the meeting.

Special Issue on Gender Issues Guest Edited by Team Members Now Published

March 2024

Dr Lynn Farrell and Dr Amanda Kracen’s invited Special Issue “Understanding Gender and Fostering Positive Social Change in the 21st Century,” is now complete and published in the journal Social Sciences. The Special Issue hosts nine papers from a range of disciplines, addressing issues related to advancing our understanding of gender and its impact across personal and professional domains. NCI faculty also contributed 4 papers to this special issue. These include:


Archive

December 2023

Dr Amanda Kracen served as the External Examiner for the viva voce examination of Lucy Hayden, PhD candidate at Dublin City University

Dr Amanda Kracen served as the External Examiner for the viva voce examination on December 14th of Lucy Hayden, PhD candidate at Dublin City University; her project was an analysis of individuals’ experiences of living with terminal cancer.

 

November 2023

Dr Amanda Kracen was elected President of the Irish Psychosocial Oncology Network (IPSON)

Dr Amanda Kracen was elected President of the Irish Psychosocial Oncology Network (IPSON) for 2024. In this role, she leads the 10-member Executive Committee and the organisation; she also sits on the International Psycho-Oncology Society’s Federation Board (2024).

IPSON is an interdisciplinary organisation that represents professionals working in cancer care. Membership includes nurses, counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists, OTs, PTs, administrators, and more. Members work in cancer support centres, acute hospital settings, primary care, hospice and palliative care, academia, and public policy.

The mission of IPSON is to promote and advocate for psychosocial excellence in cancer care in Ireland. We do this through supporting a thriving community of psychosocial oncology professionals who collaborate on clinical practice, education, policy, advocacy, and research.

To learn more, please visit the Ipson website. 

Dr Amanda Kracen chaired a discussion with Professor Dame Lesley Fallowfield

Dr Amanda Kracen chaired a discussion on November 15th with Professor Dame Lesley Fallowfield, University of Sussex, about her research and the evolution of cancer care over the last four decades; the talk was hosted by the Irish Psychosocial Oncology Network.

 

September 2023

Dr Caoimhe Hannigan and Dr Michelle Kelly of the ProBrain Lab awarded The Alzheimer Society of Ireland’s inaugural Dementia Research Award 2023

Dr Caoimhe Hannigan and Dr Michelle Kelly of the ProBrain Lab have been awarded The Alzheimer Society of Ireland’s inaugural Dementia Research Award 2023. The team were awarded over €40k to complete their project entitled “Increasing the Availability of Cognitive Rehabilitation for People with Dementia in Ireland” over the next 2 years. The project will be conducted in partnership with Dr Garret McDermott and Professor Sean Kennelly of the National Memory Clinic at Tallaght University Hospital, with collaboration from Trinity College Dublin, Galway University, the Irish Dementia Working Group (IDWG), the Dementia Carers Campaign Network (DCCN), and the Dementia Services Information and Development Centre (DSIDC) at St James’ Hospital. For more information on the funding grant, please visit the Alzheimer Europe website.

The Psychology Team welcomed a new PhD student to NCI.

Laura Curran, graduated from NCI in 2021 with a degree in psychology. She enjoyed her undergraduate research so much that she returned to NCI and is pursuing a joint doctoral degree with Maynooth University. Laura is co-supervised by Dr Amanda Kracen, NCI, and Dr Rebecca Maguire, Maynooth University. Laura’s research examines how people cope with the fear of cancer recurrence. Her research has important implications for how we can support people living with and beyond cancer.

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL Ireland) Conference

Dr Amanda Kracen gave an invited talk at the Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL Ireland) conference in Dublin on September 16th. Her talk was entitled Managing Uncertainty, Acceptance, and Resilience while Living on the Fault Lines.

 

August 2023

NCI Researchers Awarded €9,650 to conduct study

Dr Amanda Kracen and Dr Lynn Farrell, in collaboration with three oncologists in Ireland, were awarded €9560 from GlaxoSmithKline (Ireland) to carry out their research study, Personal & Occupational Experiences of Medical Professionals in Cancer Care in Ireland. Findings forthcoming.

June 2023

NCI Team Launch New Study

Drs Amanda Kracen and Lynn Farrell have recently launched a new study – Personal and Occupational Experiences of Medical Professionals in Cancer Care in Ireland. They are pleased to be collaborating with three oncologists: Dr Dearbhaile Collins of Cork University Hospital, Dr Lynda Corrigan of Tallaght University Hospital, and Dr Scheryll Alken of Children’s Health Ireland, Crumlin and St James’s Hospital.

The study seeks to further our understanding of the personal and occupational experiences of doctors working in oncology and/or palliative care in Ireland. It is hoped that developing an understanding of their experiences can help us develop strategies to support their occupational and personal wellbeing.

The research team is currently collecting data from doctors across Ireland. For more information, please email: Amanda.Kracen@ncirl.ie.

May 2023

European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology in Vienna

Dr Amanda Kracen, Associate Professor of Psychology, took part in an invited symposium at the annual meeting of the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology in Vienna, Austria. Dr Kracen’s talk was entitled, Living on fault lines: Psycho-social issues in cancer survivorship.

NCI at the PSI Student Congress

Dr Fearghal O’Brien, Assistant Professor of Psychology gave a keynote address at the All Ireland Student Congress, held in Trinity College Dublin on May 11th & 12th. Dr O’Brien’s talk was on The Meaning and Measurement of Risk.

Final year student, Lucy Graham, won the Undergraduate Poster Presentation Runner Up prize, coming in second place out of 34 posters. Lucy’s poster described her research, titled “The Role of Attentional Bias on the Relationship between Rumination and Anxiety: A Modified Dot Probe Task Investigation.”

April 2023

Invited Webinar for women+@DCS Seminar Series

Dr Lynn Farrell, Assistant Professor in Psychology, gave an invited webinar on April 27th 2023 to the University of Sheffield as part of their women+@DCS seminar series. The talk focused on promoting Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion in STEM fields, in particular how to frame Gender Equality Initiatives to improve support among STEM faculty. Further information can be found on women+@DCS.

Chapter published on The Experiences of Female Scientists in the Global Network

Dr Lynn Farrell, Assistant Professor in Psychology, and her colleague Prof Louise McHugh (School of Psychology, UCD) have published a chapter in the book Women in Behavior Science: Observations on Life Inside and Outside the Academy. The chapter focuses on the experiences of navigating careers as women in science with access to the global network and digital technology which bring both benefits and challenges. Women in Behavior Science Observations on Life Inside and Outside the Academy can be purchased now through the publisher Routledge.

Dr Michelle Kelly & Dr Conor Nolan organise 16th Annual PSI DBA conference

Dr Michelle Kelly & Dr Conor Nolan organised the 16th annual Psychological Society of Ireland, Division of Behaviour Analysis conference. The conference took place in Athlone on April 21st and 22nd. The conference featured Irish and international speakers, made up of experts in the field, researchers, clinicians and advocates. The theme of the conference was Neuroaffirmative Practice and it was attended by over 100 delegates each day.

At the conference, Dr Nolan provided a keynote speech on providing supervision for behavioural psychologists and Dr Kelly chaired a research session on relational learning.

February 2023

NCI Assistant Professor Dr Michelle Kelly awarded Irish Research Council ‘New Foundations’ funding

February 2023

Headshot of Dr Michelle Kelly, co-director of the ProBrain lab NCI Assistant Professor Dr Michelle Kelly awarded Irish Research Council ‘New Foundations’ funding

Dr Michelle Kelly, co-director of the ProBrain lab has been awarded an Irish Research Council New Foundations grant to conduct an exciting new research study investigating the implementation of early interventions for people with dementia in Ireland. The project, entitled FAB-CST, will explore Facilitators and Barriers to the delivery of Cognitive Stimulation Therapy, which is an internationally recognised, evidence-based intervention for people with mild to moderate dementia.

Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) is a brief intervention, that involves people with dementia (in groups or individually) working with a trained facilitators to complete a series of themed activities designed to promote continued learning, mental stimulation, and social engagement. It is typically delivered across 14 or more sessions that run twice weekly. It is the only non-pharmacological intervention which has been consistently shown to improve cognition, communication, and quality of life for people with dementia. The intervention is cost-effective and has been recommended by several international bodies (e.g., World Alzheimer Report, NICE Guidelines, Centre for Economic and Social Research on Dementia).

In Ireland, over 320 people have been trained to deliver CST but an “implementation gap” has emerged, where many of those who have been trained are not providing CST. As a result, this intervention is not widely available to people diagnosed with dementia. This research project will gather information about when/where CST is being offered, and to explore barriers to wider implementation of this intervention. The findings of the project will inform policy recommendations to address the identified barriers to service delivery, with the aim of facilitating greater access to evidence-based early interventions to support people with dementia in our communities.

The project will be conducted in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland, with input from Dr Caoimhe Hannigan (co-director, ProBrain lab) and collaborators at Engaging Dementia, the International CST Centre at University College London, the Global Brain Health Institute, and St James’ Hospital.

The Irish Research Council’s New Foundations awards support strategic partnerships between researchers and civic society organisations and/or government departments, to support evidence-based approaches to policy and strategy. In 2022, the IRC awarded funding to 67 New Foundations project, representing a total investment of almost €875,000. You can read more about the New Foundations scheme and awardees here on the IRC website: Researchers, community organisations and Government bodies to collaborate on 67 New Foundations projects 

For more information on this project, you can contact Dr Michelle Kelly: michelle.kelly@ncirl.ie

October 2022

Research led by NCI and Maynooth University shows that ALONE’s Support and Befriending service reduces health-related decline among older adults

28th October 2022

ALONE launch a new report which presents findings from a research project jointly led by NCI and Maynooth University ALONE launch a new report which presents findings from a research project jointly led by NCI and Maynooth University

ALONE have launched a new research report today which presents findings from a research project jointly led by National College of Ireland (Dr Caoimhe Hannigan) and Maynooth University (Dr Joanna McHugh Power). These findings show that befriending services can reduce declines in health experienced by older adults.

The report entitled ‘Befriending, Loneliness, and Health: An evaluation of the ALONE befriending service’ documents findings from a mixed methods study funded by the Health Research Board. The study included an intensive longitudinal trial carried out with 86 older people aged between 60-94 years, all of whom were new users of the ALONE Support & Befriending Service. The findings from this study showed that:

  • Receiving the befriending intervention reduced the overall decline in health over time
  • The befriending intervention suppressed the negative effect of loneliness on health over time

Furthermore, the project included a qualitative study which interviewed existing service users and volunteers, which identified four pathways through which befriending might impact on health.

Read the full report here: Befriending, Loneliness and Health: An evaluation of the ALONE befriending service.

NCI Psychology Team Members Guest Edit Special Issue on Gender

October 2022

Dr Lynn Farrell and Dr Amanda Kracen have been invited to serve as guest editors for a special issue of the journal Social Sciences. This issue, “Understanding Gender and Fostering Positive Social Change in the 21st Century,” aims to broaden our understanding of gender and contribute to the research literature on fostering positive social change. The call is now open for submissions and more information on this special issue can be found on "Special Issue "Understanding Gender and Fostering Positive Social Change in the 21st Century""

September 2022

NCI Psychology Team presents research findings at European Geriatric Medicine (EUGMS) Conference

28th September 2022

Psychology research at NCI was presented at the European Geriatric Medicine Society’s 18th International Congress in London (28th-30th September 2022). Dr Caoimhe Hannigan presented a poster entitled: “Health benefits of befriending interventions: a dyadic qualitative analysis”. Dr Michelle Kelly presented a poster entitled “A multi-disciplinary approach to offering community-based cognitive interventions to people with early-stage dementia in Ireland”.

April - November 2022

Behavioral Science Researchers at NCI invited to present Keynotes, Workshops and Panels at National and International Conferences

April – November 2022

Dr Lynn Farrell presented a Keynote entitled “Gender Bias and Relational Frame Theory: What's the Relation?” at the 20th Association for Contextual Behavioral Science World Conference in San Francisco, USA, on 16th June 2022. Dr Farrell will also be presenting a Keynote entitled “What’s in a Frame? Understanding and influencing gender bias in STEM” at the 5th UK and Republic of Ireland ACT and Contextual Behavioral Science conference in Liverpool, UK, on 17th November 2022.

Dr Michelle Kelly chaired a panel discussion on professional developments in behaviour analysis at the Association for Behavior Analysis International Conference in the Convention Centre, Dublin on 2nd September. Dr Kelly also presented a Keynote entitled “The Application of Behavior Analysis for Memory Rehabilitation” at the Psychological Society of Ireland’s Division of Behavior Analysis (DBA) Conference on 2nd April; while at the same conference, Dr Conor Nolan and Dr Kelly hosted a Symposium on Professional Recognition Issues.

Psycho-Oncology Wellbeing Research (POWER) lab

Dr Amanda Kracen was recently invited to serve on the HSE’s National Psycho-Oncology Advisory Group. Dr Kracen and colleagues published a paper in Annals of LGBTQ Public and Population Health on Multicultural Orientation (MCO) in cancer care. The paper can be found on the following link: Integrating Multicultural Orientation into cancer care for sexual and gender minorities: A new paradigm for leadership, practice, and research

Dr Kracen collaborated on an MCO symposium, Addressing power and privilege underlying cancer disparities: Applying the Multicultural Orientation to cancer care with patients, care teams, and institutions, at the annual meeting (virtual) of the American Psychosocial Oncology Society in March 2022. She also presented on applying the MCO framework to cancer care at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, which was held in August 2022 in Minneapolis.