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IHR Seminar: Randomised controlled trials of behavioural interventions: lessons learned and current work at the Health Behaviour Change Research Group at NUI Galway

Guest speakers: Drs Elaine Toomey & Molly Byrne, National University of Ireland, Galway

Event details


Overview of the seminar
The Health Behaviour Change Research Group (HBCRG) is an Irish national hub and internationally-recognised centre of excellence in health behavioural intervention development, evaluation and implementation. The HBCRG aims to improve population health by developing and promoting an evidence-based approach to health behaviour change interventions. The team are currently running a number of intervention development studies, pilot trials of interventions and definitive intervention trials. Studies are in areas including: self-management among young adults with Type 1 Diabetes; attendance at structured education programmes for people with Type 2 Diabetes; delivery of sexual counselling within hospital cardiac rehabilitation; interventions to increase physical activity among overweight pregnant women and interventions to promote healthy infant feeding delivered in primary care.

The recently established International Behavioural Trials Network aims to facilitate the global improvement of the quality of research into behavioural or complex interventions. During a recent Flaherty Visiting Professorship Visit to the Montreal Behavioural Medicine Centre in Canada, Molly initiated a behavioural trial research prioritisation project to develop the research agenda of the IBTN.

The aim of this session is to provide a forum for knowledge exchange and dissemination between the Exeter and Galway groups, and explore opportunities for future collaboration in behavioural or complex intervention research. In the seminar, Elaine will provide an overview of the HBCRG members and research areas, and Molly will present on the behavioural trial research prioritisation project and open discussion around potential areas for mutual research. 


Presenter biographies

Dr Elaine Toomey
Elaine is a Health Research Board (HRB) Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement (ICE) post-doctoral research fellow, and a chartered physiotherapist with the Health Behaviour Change Research Group based in the National University of Ireland Galway. She is currently involved in the development of a complex intervention to enhance infant feeding practices with a goal of improving childhood obesity outcomes, specifically focusing on process and implementation outcomes. Before joining the Health Behaviour Change Research Group, she completed a PhD in University College Dublin in 2016 using mixed methods to investigate implementation fidelity within a physiotherapy-led behaviour change intervention to promote self-management in people with chronic low back pain and/or osteoarthritis. Prior to this, her MSc from the University of Limerick explored clinical interventions for non-ambulatory people with multiple sclerosis. Elaine's research interests include implementation fidelity and process evaluations, clinical trials and complex interventions and narrowing the gap between research and practice in health behaviour change.  In 2016 Elaine was awarded a Leamer-Rosenthal Prize for Open Social Science for Emerging Researchers from the University of California Berkeley for her work in fidelity and transparency of behaviour change interventions. Stemming from this, she is also a Catalyst for the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS).

Prof Molly Byrne
Molly is Professor of Health Psychology in the School of Psychology, National University of Ireland, Galway. She holds a Health Research Board Research Leadership Award (2014-2019) and directs the Health Behaviour Change Research Group (HBCRG). Molly’s research seeks to improve population health by developing, using and advocating use of behavioural science in intervention research to promote health behaviour change. Much of Molly's research has focused on promoting better management of chronic illness, primarily diabetes and cardiovascular disease. All her research is done within multidisciplinary teams and engages key stakeholders in the research process, with the aim of increasing implementation of research into practice and maximising impact. She has published 84 peer-reviewed publications and presented her research at over 60 international conferences; she has secured research funding of €8,128,363 (€2,477,407 as Principal Investigator). She is recipient of a Wellcome Trust Research Leadership Development Programme Award (2017-18), an Irish Canada University Foundation James Flaherty Visiting Professor Award (2016-17) and the NUI Galway President’s Award for Research Excellence 2015 (Established Researcher Category). She is a member of the European Health Psychology Society, and former EHPS National Delegate (2010-14) & EHPS Committee Member (2014-16).