Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

PHS ongoing research

The Division of Population Health Sciences brings together a critical mass of researchers involved in multi-disciplinary research. Main research themes include population health, primary care, health services and systems research, with a focus on both Irish and global health priorities. 

Department of Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine

Research interests within the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine relate to international and global health, Irish healthservices and public health.


Global health and health systems research 

Clinical Officer Surgical Training in Africa COST-Africa (COST-Africa)

Cost Africa will train clinical officers, who are the backbone of clinical care in rural Africa, to undertake life-saving emergency and elective major surgery at district hospitals in Malawi and Zambia.  The rationale is that, unlike doctors and nurses, clinical officers’ qualifications and training have no counter-part in Europe or the US, making emigration from Africa difficult for them. The investigators will use a cluster randomised controlled trial study design to provide proof-of-concept that surgery can be delivered cost-effectively and safely in district hospitals in Africa. Roll out of lessons learned to other African countries will be through the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) whose members span 9 African countries.


  • Partners include the Surgical Society of Zambia, The College of Medicine of the University of Malawi and Stichting Katholieke Universiteit.
  • RCSI project team: Ruairí Brugha, Tracey McCauley, Juzer Lotya, Elaine Byrne, Laura Phelan
  • Funded by: EU FP7 Programme






The Connecting Health Research in Africa and Ireland Consortium (CHRAIC)


CHRAIC aims to synthesise research and identify knowledge gaps in sixAfrican countries on human resources for health, equity and access to services;and governance of the health system. These three areas are essential to delivering interventions for theHealth and HIV/AIDS Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). CHRAIC has establisheda doctoral training programme; is assessing andstrengthening the research capacity of African partner institutions; and aimsto conduct Irish Aid-relevant research and strengthen research into policylinks. CHRAIC partners include researchers in the Royal College of Surgeons inIreland (RCSI), Trinity College Dublin, National University of Ireland Galway,the Malaria Consortium, and from institutions in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique,Sierra Leone, Sudan and Uganda.

  • RCSI project team: Ruairí Brugha, Elaine Byrne
  • Funded by: Irish Aid and RCSI



GHIN: A network approach to Global Health and HIV/AIDS initiatives: Issues of Harmonization, Systems Capacity and Marginalized Groups

External funding for HIV/AIDS increased dramatically in the pastdecade. Three global initiatives contributed most of the funding to HIV/AIDSprevention, treatment and care, especially in Africa: the Global Fund to fight AIDS,Tuberculosis and Malaria, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and the World Bank's Multi-country AIDS Program (MAP). The GlobalHIV/AIDS Initiatives Network (GHIN) is led by Professor Ruairí Brugha (RCSI)and Professor Gill Walt of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). GHIN activities are coordinated by Aisling Walsh (RCSI), and by Neil Spicer and Andrew Harmer (LSHTM).

GHIN comprises researchers in 22 countries who are exploring the effects of these Global Health Initiatives on health systems. GHIN hasresearched these effects at the national level, health facilities and incommunities, in order to inform policy development at national andinternational level.

GHIN adds value to individual country studies by:

  • Promoting comparability through common research protocols and tools.
  • Sharing expertise across country study teams and building research capacity.
  • Generating multi-country comparisons and context-specific policy lessons.
  • Coordinating dissemination of findings and recommendations and streamlining communication with global stakeholders.

The Network facilitates comparable work on a number of key researchthemes and the synthesis of findings around them: Sub-national scale-up, Health systems capacity, Equitable access.


  • RCSI project team: Ruairi Brugha, Aisling Walsh
  • Funded by: Irish Aid and Danida




GHIs in Africa: Experience of African countries with global health initiatives

GHIs in Africa is a FP6 EU-funded research consortium, which aims tounderstand how the rise of GHIs has impacted the architecture of developmentpartnerships and health systems functions in five southern African countries.It is lead by Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine (Belgium), inpartnership with: University of Pretoria (South Africa), Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique), University of the Western Cape (South Africa), the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Centros de estudos Avancados em Educacao eformacao Medica (Angola), Instituto de Higiene e Medicina Tropical University Nova de Lisboa (Portugal). The University of Western Cape team is conducting research in Burundi and the RCSI has a research partnership with the National University of Lesotho.


  • RCSI project team: Ruairí Brugha, CarlosBruen, Regien Biesma
  • Funded by: EU FP6 Programme 


Irish Health and Health Services




Chlamydia: Optimal Setting for Chlamydia Screening in Ireland

A consortium lead by RCSI and the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) is conducting a series of studies on the feasibility of screening for genital Chlamydia in young people (18 - 29years) in Ireland, 2007-10. RCSI led on a series of baseline qualitative and quantitative studies in 2007-08 and a pilot screening study was conducted by NUIG in the West of Ireland in2008-09. The study will report an evaluation of the feasibility, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of opportunistic Chlamydia screening in a range of primary care and Third Level settings. Several papers have been published (see Pubmed[r1] ) and the final report and several more papers are planned for late 2010.


  • RCSI project team: Ruairi Brugha, Myles Balfe
  • Funded by: Health Research Board




Nurse Migration Project

Ireland initiated international recruitment campaigns to facilitate the migration of qualified nurses to Ireland from the late 1990s. Overseas trained nurses, mainly from outside of the EU, are now an essential component of the nursing workforce in Ireland. However, there was little information available about them to inform health workforce planning and policy making. The RCSI nurse migration project has helped to fill these information gaps through qualitative and quantitative surveys of migrant nurses in Ireland. 

Further information on the Nurse Migration Project available from Dr Humphries: or here. A project on doctor migration, also funded by the HRB, began in January 2011.


  • RCSI project team: Dr Niamh Humphries, Professor Ruairí Brugha (PI)and Professor Hannah McGee (co-PI).
  • Funded by: Health Research Board (2006 to 2010)

Department of Psychology

Research interests within the Department of Psychology include quality of life measurement, ageing, health behaviours, sexual health, depression, healthpolicy and health services research. Condition-specific interests, cover of cardiovascular disease, particularly stroke and heart failure. Current projects are outlined below.




Evaluation of the implementation of the Fourth Joint European Societies' Task Force on Cardiovascular Prevention in Clinical Practice on behalf of the European Association of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation.

This project will evaluate the implementation of guidelines relating to cardiovascular prevention in 12 European countries. This evaluation will focus on the implementation structures, processes and outcomes.





Heartconditions: What's in a name?

This study examines how the language used to describe heart conditions may affect perceptions of illness. Cardiac patients, their relatives, healthcare works and members of the public will participate inthe study which will evaluate and compare two particular terms used in relation to cardiac illness.

RCSI project team:Hannah McGee, Karen Morgan, Ciana Maher in conjunction with colleagues in the Adelaide & Meath National Children's Hospital and St Vincent's Hospital.

Knowledge of stroke warning signs and risk factors: a survey of Irish adults.

This is a national survey of 1,000 Irish adults (aged 18+ years) randomly selected to reflect the demographic profile of the most recent Irish Census (2006). The survey was completed in June 2009 and will provide national baseline data on knowledge and awareness of stroke warning signs and risk factors prior to the launch of a campaign promoting awareness of stroke symptoms and appropriate response.





CPR4 Schools Evaluation Study

CPR4 Schools was a pilot programme to train Transition Year students in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) using self-instruction kits. This study will evaluate knowledge and acceptability ofCPR among students immediately after training and again after six months. Itwill also examine teacher response to the programme.


  • RCSI project team: Hannah McGee, KarenMorgan, Helen Burke and Carmel Moore.
  • Funded by: Irish Heart Foundation.



Systematic review of the impact of depression on secondary prevention behaviours inpatients with coronary heart disease

This 20-year systematic review assesses theimpact of depression on the following subsequent behaviours in longitudinal studies: cardiac rehabilitation attendance/completion, cardiovascular medication adherence, physical activity, smoking cessation, diet, body-massindex change.


  • RCSI project team: Frank Doyle,Aleksandra Kowalczyk, Karen Morgan




Factors contributing to delay in stroke

Data collection for this study commences inautumn 2010.


  • RCSI project team: Anne Hickey, Antoinette Copley, Frank Doyle, David Williams.
  • Funded by: Health Research Board through the Health Services Research Institute PhD Scholar's Programme.




Boulos Hanna Award

Emergency care for stroke

Data collection for this study will commence in Summer 2010. This project aims to evaluate the efficacy of this campaign by focussing on the number of patients presenting with suspected stroke to one large Dublin teaching hospital.


  • RCSI project team: Anne Hickey, David Williams.
  • Funded by: Boulos Hanna award.




Boulos Hanna Award 

Estimating the Prevalence of Left Ventricular Systolic Dysfunction in Dublin North East.

Data collection for this study will commence in Summer 2010. The aim of this project is toestimate LVSD prevalence by screening patients who have an echocardiogram at Beaumont hospital.


  • RCSI project team: Karen Morgan, Clare Lewis, Brendan McAdam
  • Funded by: Boulos Hanna award.




Irish National Audit of Stroke Care (2008)

This was the first audit of stroke services in the Republic of Ireland. The audit involved six separate surveys involvingall areas of healthcare involved in stroke care. The individual studies were hospital based - the organisational audit and clinical audit; and community based - a survey of general practitioners; of allied health professionals and public health nurses, of patients and their carers, and of nursing home managers and residents.

INASC report.


  • Research team:Frances Horgan, Anne Hickey, Hannah McGee, Desmond O'Neill.
  • Funded by: Irish Heart Foundation.



Health behaviours


SLAN 2007: National Survey of Lifestyle, Attitude and Nutrition

SLAN is Ireland's National Survey of Lifestyle, Attitude and Nutrition. In 2007 the third and largest survey wasconducted by a team from RCSI, the ESRI, NUIG and UCC . SLAN 2007 included ahealth interview and for the first time, a nation health examination survey. Detailed reports can be downloaded from the SLAN website,


  • RCSI project team: Hannah McGee, Ruairi Brugha, Ronan Conroy, Emer Shelley, Karen Morgan
  • Tender awarded by: Department of Health & Children



Health Behaviour of Young People Ireland

This study is a longitudinal study of a sub-group of SLAN participants which seeks to examine in detail issues relatingto smoking and drinking behaviour. The study aims to identify determinants of behaviour and behaviour change with a view to informing public health policy and interventions.

RCSI project team: Hannah McGee, Karen Morgan, Laura Currie, Mary Conry, Yvonne McGowan, Helen Burke, Ciana Maher



Sexual Health

ICCP2: The second Irish Contraception & CrisisPregnancy (ICCP) Study

ICCP 2 is a national survey of knowledge, attitudes and behaviours concerning the issues of crisis pregnancy and contraception and the use of relevant services among Irish adults. It will provide information about new and emerging trends in crisis pregnancy and contraceptive use in Ireland as well as examining trends over time since the original ICCP study was carried out in 2003.


  • RCSI project team:Hannah McGee, Karen Morgan
  • Tender awarded by: Irish Contraception and Crisis Pregnancy Agency


Sexual health


Exploring trends in sexual activity, contraceptive use, and pregnancy experiences in Ireland: A secondary analysis of national survey data from the last decade.


This project is a comparative secondary analysis of data from three comprehensive national sexual health surveys that have been conducted in Ireland over the last decade: the 2003 and 2010 Irish Contraception and Crisis Pregnancy Surveys (ICCP-2003/2010) and the 2006 Irish Study of Sexual Health and Relationships (ISSHR). Four specific areas are being explored: (1) experiences of sex education; (2) consequences of early heterosexual intercourse onset; (3) experiences of crisis pregnancy; and (4) screening for and diagnoses of sexually transmissible infections and HIV with a view to identifying trends in sexual health and behaviour in Ireland. This project will inform and guide national policy development and health service planning over the coming years as well as highlighting areas for future qualitative and quantitative investigation,


  • RCSI project team: Karen Morgan, Orla McBride, Caroline Kelleher, Ashling Bourke and Daniel Boduszek
  • Tender awarded by: Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences funded by the HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme 



Quality in Healthcare

ORCAB: Improving quality and safety in the hospital: The link between organisational culture, burnout, and quality of care (ORCAB)

ORCAB aims to benchmark the organisational factors that impact on the well-being of health professionals, quality ofhospital care and patient safety. It also aims to design bottom-upinterventions aimed at improving patient safety and quality of hospital care.Ten partners from nine European counties are participating in the project.


  • Website: ORCAB
  • RCSI project team: Hannah McGee, Karen Morgan, Niamh Humphries, Mary Conry, Yvonne McGowan
  • Funded by:FP7 EU Grant



 Mental health



Prenatal and Neonatal Risk Factors for Mental Illness

This project uses Finnish register based cohort data to examine prenatal and neonatal risk factors for mental illness.The project covers three specific areas - prenatal infection, prenatal stress and the attainment of motor and language developmental milestones. The aim of the projectis to characterise the developmental trajectory to mental illness especially severe psychotic illness. This work is carried out in collaboration with colleagues from the National Institute of Public Health in Helsinki.


  • RCSI project team: Mary Cannon, Mary Clarke
  • Funded by: The Wellcome Trust, NARSAD




Gene-Environment Interactions in Schizophrenia

This project looks at gene-environment interactions in individuals with subclinical psychosis, who are an at-riskgroup for the development of schizophrenia.


  • RCSI project team: Mary Cannon, Mary Clarke
  • Funded by: The Health Research Board, EU Gene/Environment Interaction Consortium.