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Personal Information
Name Swords, Lorraine
Main Department Psychology
College Title Assistant Professor
College Tel +353 1 896 3638
Lorraine Swords is a Lecturer in Child and Adolescent Psychology with the School of Psychology and Course Coordinator of the Structured PhD in Child and Youth Research at the Children's Research Centre. Lorraine graduated from UCD in 2000 with a BA (Hons) Degree in Psychology. She then completed a Master of Psychological Science Degree in Health Psychology at NUI Galway before returning to UCD in 2003 to undertake a PhD researching children's perceptions of psychological disorders in their peers. Prior to taking up her lectureship in psychology in December 2009, Lorraine worked as a Research Fellow at the Children's Research Centre on the National Longitudinal Study of Children in Ireland, Growing Up in Ireland. Lorraine is a registered member of the Psychological Society of Ireland.
Membership of Professional Institutions, Associations, Societies
Details Date From Date To
Psychological Society of Ireland 2003 Present
International Association for Youth Mental Health 2013 Present
Description of Research Interests
Research interests include children's wellbeing; children and adolescents' experiences of stress and mental health difficulties, stigma, help-seeking and coping; children and adolescents' perceptions of peers experiencing physical or mental health difficulties, help-giving and peer relationships; children's experience of deprivation and social exclusion. She has recently completed a study investigating child and family well-being in the recession, a study that she received funding to undertake from the Family Support Agency through the Irish Research Council for the Humanities & Social Sciences.
Research Interests
Child Health Psychology Child and Adolescent Mental Health Developmental Psychology Peer Relationships
Research Projects
Project title Family Well-being in Difficult Times: A Model of Factors Influencing the Well-being of Families on Limited Incomes in Ireland
Summary In recent years Ireland has suffered its most serious economic contraction in generations, with one in five Irish households with children lives on incomes that are 60 per cent below the median national income (Central Statistics Office, 2008). Such economic pressures can result in long-term social and economic costs for children, families, and communities (e.g. Golonka & Hoffman, 2008; March et al., 2011; Ridge, 2002, 2007). Research in Ireland by McKeown, Pratschke and Haase (2003) has identified family circumstances such as employment or social class as one of four broad sets of influences on the well-being of family members. While it is clear that families under financial pressure experience the repercussions across many aspects of their members’ lives, research suggests that families can be active agents in how they respond to, and manage, these situations (e.g. Gordon, 2000). Guided by family systems theory and ecological perspectives about families, the present study proposes to mine data collected as part of Growing Up in Ireland (GUI), the National Longitudinal Study of Children in Ireland, to investigate how limited family income can influence key family well-being measures. Key Research Question o Among families living on limited incomes, what are the key factors that, directly or indirectly, influence their well-being? • What are the characteristics of families who 1. are doing well? 2. are experiencing difficulty? Understanding the relative roles of key factors in contributing to adaptive functioning among families on limited incomes is of critical importance to developing future policy to safeguard the wellbeing of the family and its members. Using data collected as part of GUI can give us a sense of how families with limited incomes are faring and how this is so on a truly national scale.
Funding Agency Family Support Agency
Type of Project
Date from July 2011
Date to June 2012
Person Months

Project title All You Need Is... Children's Perceptions and Experiences of Deprivation in Ireland
Summary This paper reports the results of a study aiming to derive a child-generated set of indicators of child deprivation. To date child poverty and deprivation have been calculated on the basis of the child being reared in a household assessed as living in relative or consistent poverty. There is a convincing argument for including children in the development of child-specific indicators to capture the extent and experience of child deprivation. Using the socially perceived necessities method with children and their parents to identify child necessities and enforced lack of these necessities is innovative in the study of childhood deprivation in Ireland. Two hundred and sixty two children, aged from nine to eleven years from 28 urban and rural primary schools, and their parents, from across the social spectrum, participated in this study. The approach used was the socially perceived necessities method which has been widely applied with adults but not with children. In this study, a list of 49 material (things to have), activity (things to do) and service (thing that help) necessities was presented to the children and their parents and they were asked which items they believe are necessities that no child should have to do without due to low income. They then reported on their ownership and deprivation of these items. An index of 12 indicators of child deprivation was developed based solely on child responses. Although children acknowledge the importance of basic necessities such as adequate food and clothing, they also place an emphasis on being able to participate in typical family activities (e.g. holidays or going out for a meal) and to access services (e.g. library or shops). Evidence from this study suggests that while household deprivation is related to child-specific deprivation, household and child deprivation are not one and the same phenomenon. In some instances children experience more deprivation than their parents, while in others parents may be going without in order to ensure that their children’s needs are met. It appears that some children are protected from experiencing the level of child-specific deprivation that might be expected considering their parents’ reports of household deprivation, while other children in homes with little or no apparent household deprivation are experiencing a surprising lack of child essentials. Thus, the distribution of resources within the family is complex and there is a need to clearly identify the factors at play here. However, using household indicators of deprivation or parent reports of deprivation in data collection as a proxy for children’s own experiences is inadequate as it does not help us to sufficiently identify or satisfactorily understand the actual experiences of deprived and non-deprived children living in deprived and non-deprived homes. Preliminary results arising from the development and early application of the 12-item child-generated deprivation measure suggest that it has potential for use with children in the changing Irish economic context and that it could serve as a useful child-centred adjunct to current means of calculating levels of child poverty.
Funding Agency Barnardos & The Society of St. Vincent de Paul
Type of Project
Date from July 2010
Date to July 2011
Person Months

Publications and Other Research Outputs
Peer Reviewed
Swords, L., Hennessy, E. & Heary, C., Adolescents' beliefs about sources of help for ADHD and depression, Journal of Adolescence, 35, 2010, p485 - 492
Williams, J., Greene, S., Doyle, E., Harris, E., Layte, R., McCoy, S., McCrory, C., Murray, A., Nixon, E., O'Dowd, T., O'Moore, M., Quail, A., Smyth, E., Swords, L., Thornton, M., Growing up in Ireland: The lives of 9 year olds, Dublin, The Stationery Office, 2009, 161
TARA - Full Text  URL
Hennessy, E., Swords, L., & Heary, C., Children's understanding of psychological problems displayed by their peers: A review of the literature, Child: Care, Health & Development, 34, (1), 2008, p4 - 9
Swords, L., & Groarke, A., Experience with breast cancer: Effects on comparative optimism, anxiety, attitudes and breast self-examination, Irish Journal of Psychology, 25, (1-4), 2004, p76 - 89
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Last Updated:02-OCT-2014