NUI Galway events to showcase innovations in health psychology

May 14 2015 Posted: 10:47 IST

The School of Psychology at NUI Galway, in association with the Psychological Society of Ireland’s Division of Health Psychology, will hold two major linked conference events on 8 and 9 June, 2015.

The events will focus on the area of health psychology, which applies psychological theory, research, and practice to the promotion and maintenance of health and prevention of physical illness.

In healthcare, there is a growing emphasis on changing behaviours such as smoking, diet and alcohol consumption to prevent and manage chronic illnesses. Health Psychology, with its focus on promotion of healthy behaviours and self-management of chronic illness, has much to contribute to improving health outcomes for all.

Innovations in Health Psychology
On 8 June, the School of Psychology will celebrate 21 years of health psychology at NUI Galway hosting an event entitled ‘Innovations in Health Psychology’. The event will have a mix of invited speakers, panel discussions and poster presentations. International invited speakers will share the experience of health psychology in other European countries, and leading health psychologists in Ireland will present their current work. The event aims to promote discussion and debate about key achievements and new directions for Health Psychology and takes place in the Aula Maxima at NUI Galway.

According to Dr AnnMarie Groarke, Head of the School of Psychology: “Twenty-one years on, we have substantial expertise nationally. NUI Galway is a leading centre of training and research in health psychology. Indeed, there has been great interest in our ‘Innovations in Health Psychology’ event, and we hope that it will further raise the profile of health psychology in Ireland.”

Chair of Innovations in Health Psychology, Dr Molly Byrne, NUI Galway said: ‘The event will provide a unique opportunity to bring together the health psychology community in Ireland and abroad, in combination with leading health service providers and policy makers in the areas of health service delivery and health promotion. We have pulled together a broad range of presentations to showcase existing initiatives. We hope that interactive panel discussions during the day will give attendees the opportunity to explore and debate the future role of health psychology in health-related practice, policy and research. We are particularly delighted that Dr Stephanie O’Keefe, HSE National Director of the Health and Wellbeing Division, will join us to discuss the role of health psychology in improving health outcomes in Ireland through the roll out of the Healthy Ireland programme.”

Mhealth Conference
On 9 June, the recently established Mhealth research group at the School of Psychology will demonstrate some of the practical applications of health psychology in this growing field. ‘Mhealth’ is a term used for the practice of medicine and health supported by mobile devices such as mobile phones, tablet computers and PDAs.

M-health research encompasses a variety of topics, including increased access to healthcare and health-related information (particularly for hard-to-reach populations); improved ability to diagnose and track diseases; more timely and actionable public health information; and expanded access to ongoing medical education and training for health workers.

NUI Galway’s Dr Jane Walsh is Chair of the Mhealth research group said, “This interdisciplinary event is the first of its kind in Ireland and will serve to showcase some of the cutting edge international research in the area of Mhealth. This conference is being organised with the Health and Wellbeing cluster of the Whitaker Research Institute.  The event will aim to promote the development of high quality multidisciplinary research networks through which NUI Galway can achieve the highest quality of scientific excellence working with international research leaders and all the various stakeholders from in healthcare and industry.”

This event is supported by an Irish Research Council Government of Ireland ‘New Foundations’ Scheme award held by Dr Jane Walsh and PhD student Eimear Morrissey with additional support from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway, the Whitaker Institute and a Health Research Board Research Leaders award held by Dr Brian McGuire. The Arts Millennium Building at NUI Galway will be the venue for the event.

Health Psychology
Health psychology has grown steadily in Ireland over the past two decades, especially with the introduction of an MSc in Health Psychology at NUI Galway in 1994, by Professor Ruth Curtis. Many of the field’s current experts and leaders are graduates of this Masters programme; now working in diverse areas such as research, education, public policy and clinical health practice.

Impact on Irish health and wellbeing‘Healthy Ireland’ is the recently published national framework for action to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Ireland. Health psychology, which helps us understand how to promote behaviours such as exercise and healthy eating, is ideally placed to inform the delivery of the Healthy Ireland vision in the coming decade.


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