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Dr. Catherine Darker

Associate Prof in Health Services Res (Public Health & Primary Care)
TALLAGHT HOSPITAL


Associate Professor Catherine Darker is a Health Psychologist and obtained her undergraduate psychology degree from Dublin Business School. She then undertook a full time two-year Masters of Health Psychology in National University of Ireland, Galway. She obtained her PhD from the School of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Birmingham, UK. She joined the Discipline of Public Health & Primary Care, School of Medicine, in 2007. Her research interests lie in translating evidence into practice, in particular, using theories, evidence and methods for changing the behaviours of healthcare professionals, patients and the general public. This is known in Ireland and the UK as Implementation Science research. She has a particular expertise in applying and developing complex intervention methodology in the context of community based programmes and trials (including intervention design, outcome measurement, fidelity, feasibility, and process evaluation), for prevention related research (e.g., smoking cessation, alcohol, physical activity/sedentary behaviour). She has a proven track record in attracting research funds as PI or Co-Applicant (over 2.4 million euro). She has been PI and Co-PI on funded research by the Health Research Board (HRB) to undertake public health studies relating to COVID-19; a pilot cluster randomized trial of a community-based smoking cessation intervention for disadvantaged women in Ireland, and a a peer-to-peer motivational interview intervention for smoking, alcohol and physical activity among at risk adolescents in low SES communities. Professor Darker is routinely commissioned by the Health Service Executive to conduct outcome and process type evaluations of national programmes and services. All of her research has a clearly defined Knowledge Exchange Dissemination plan with recommendations to change policy and practice in the prevention and management of a range of chronic conditions. She has served as Head of Discipline of Public Health & Primary Care. She is the Director of Postgraduate Teaching and Learning within the School of Medicine. She is a senior member of teaching teams and develops and delivers innovative curriculum's for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. She is an active member of the Psychological Society of Ireland (Chartered Health Psychologist) having held many roles within the governance of the Society. She is a member of the European Health Psychology Society. She was an inaugural member of the Healthy Ireland Council, and a Member of the Expert Committee on Prevention within the Irish Cancer Society. She is a strong advocate for the just and equitable distribution of and access to healthcare services. She has over 100 peer reviewed publications (h-index 20) and supervises and examines PhD and Masters students. In 2024, she was elected as Fellow of Trinity College Dublin.
  Addiction research - alcohol   Addiction research - cocaine   Addiction research - opiates   Addictions   Adolescent Psychology   Alcohol/Alcoholism   Applied Psychology   Area & Population Studies/Services   Behavior Modification   Behavioral/Experimental Psychology   Behavioral/Social Studies/Services/Other   Behavioural change interventions   Clinical Psychology   Counseling/Guidance   Demography   Drugs/Drug Abuse   Health psychology   Health status and inequalities   Inner-City   Population based intervention trials   Population Studies   Population Studies--Developing Countries   Poverty and the Poor   Primary care   Prison   Psychology   Psychometrics   Public health   Public Planning/Policy   Smoking Behavior   Social Services Delivery   Social/Behavioral Science Planning/Policy   Socioeconomics   Substance Abuse   Surveys & Survey Research
 Development of an evaluation (process and outcomes) Toolkit to support the implementation of the Healthy Campus Charter and Framework
 VISTA: VISion To Action for promoting mental health and recovery. An Implementation Science approach to "Sharing the Vision" - Ireland's national mental health policy.
 Health Assets and Needs Assessment in Tallaght - Round 3
 Recruitment of adolescent girls into physical activity programmes: evidence to inform recruitment strategies for programme developers and policymakers.
 Creating an evidence-based toolbox for targeted public health interventions during COVID-19: a cross-border analysis to disentangle psychological, behavioural, media and governmental responses

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Details Date
Chair and Judge - BT Young Scientist Exhibition 2019-present
Trinity representative - Healthy County Committee (South Dublin) 2014-present
Irish Platform for Patient's Organisations, Science and Industry (IPPOSI)(Board Member) 2013-2018
Expert Committee on Prevention, Irish Cancer Society (Committee member) 2016-2018
Healthy Ireland (Council Member) 2014-2017
HEI HSE National Standard Undergraduate Curriculum for chronic disease prevention and management (Steering Group member) 2018 - present
Department of Health, National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol (subcommittee member of Treatment, Rehabilitation and Consequences, plus Research Advisory Group) 2013-2016
Expert Committee on Health Inequalities, Irish Cancer Society (Committee Member) 2015-2017
TASC Group on Health Inequalities (Committee member) 2012-2015
Health Reform Alliance (Chair; Ordinary Committee Member) 2014-2017
Reviewer for the following journals, inter alia: BMJ Open, BMC Public Health, BMC Health Services Research, BMC Family Practice, Health Policy, International Journal of Integrated Care, Health Psychology Review, Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, 2007-present
Council member - Psychological Society of Ireland 2011-2014
Honorary Secretary - Psychological Society of Ireland 2012-2014
Chair of Division of Health Psychology - Psychological Society of Ireland 2016-2017
Honorary Treasurer, Division of Health Psychology, Psychological Society of Ireland 2010-2013
Chair of Standing Committee on Psychometric Testing - Psychological Society of Ireland 2010-2013
Scientific Committee - Psychology, Health & Medicine Conference 2015;2019
Scientific Committee - International Foundation for Integrated Care Conference 2017
Language Skill Reading Skill Writing Skill Speaking
English Fluent Fluent Fluent
Details Date From Date To
IFIC Ireland (the International Foundation for Integrated Care) - Steering Committee member March 2024 present
Cochrane International Collaboration 2011 present
Psychological Society of Ireland (Registered Member 2009-2011) (Chartered Member 2011 - present) 2009 present
British Psychological Society (Full member 2008-2016) (Associate Fellow 2017 - present) 2008 present
European Health Psychology Society (Full Member) 2008 present
Darker, C.D., Nicolson, G., Reddon, H., O"Connor, K., Jennings, R., & O"Connell, N., Monthly engagement with EIP keyworkers was associated with a five-fold increase in the odds of engagement with psychosocial interventions, BMC Psychiatry, 24, (96), 2024, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  URL
O'Brien T, Darker CD, Mockler D and Barrett EM., Strategies for recruitment of adolescent girls into physical activity programmes: a systematic review protocol, HRB Open Research, 7, (6), 2024, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Darker CD, Mullin M, Doyle L, Tanner M, McGrath D, Doherty L, Dreyer-Gibney K, Barrett EM, Flynn D, Murphy P, Ivers JH, Burke E, Ryan M, McCarron M, Murphy P, Sheils O, Hevey D, Leen A, Keogh L, Walls B, Bennett AE, Petersen F, Nolan A, Barry JM., Developing a health promoting university in Trinity College Dublin-overview and outline process evaluation, Health Promotion International, 38, (4), 2023, p1 - 14, p1-14 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Darker, C.D., Nicolson, G., Reddon, H., O"Connor, K., Jennings, R., & O"Connell, N., Barriers and facilitators to the implementation of an early intervention in psychosis service in three demonstration sites in Ireland, BMC Health Services Research, 23, (653), 2023, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  URL
Catherine Darker; Kirsty Loudon; Nicola O'Connell; Stefania Castello; Emma Burke; Joanne Vance; Caitriona Reynolds; Aine Buggy; Nadine Dougall; Pauline Williams; Fiona Dobbie; Linda Bauld; Catherine B Hayes, An application of PRECIS-2 to evaluate trial design in a pilot cluster randomised controlled trial of a community-based smoking cessation intervention for women living in disadvantaged areas of Ireland, Pilot and Feasibility Studies, 8, (19), 2022, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  URL  Handle
Hayes CB, Patterson J, Castello S, Burke E, O'Connell N, Darker, CD Bauld L, Vance J, Ciblis A, Dobbie F, Loudon K, Declan D, Dougall N, Peer-Delivery of a Gender-Specific Smoking Cessation Intervention for Women Living in Disadvantaged Communities in Ireland We Can Quit2 (WCQ2)-A Pilot Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial, Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 24, (4), 2022, p564 - 573, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  Handle
McCarron P., Smyth B., Carroll G., Glynn M., Barry J., Whiston L., Keenan E., Darker C., Truszkowska E., Patterns of new psychoactive substance use among opioid-dependent patients attending for opioid substitution treatment, HEROIN ADDICTION AND RELATED CLINICAL PROBLEMS, 24, (1), 2022, p21 - 29, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  URL
Darker CD, Burke E, Castello S, O'Sullivan K, O'Connell, N., Vance, J, Reynolds C, Buggy A, Dougall, N, Loudon K, Williams P, Dobbie F, Bauld L and Hayes, CB., A process evaluation of 'We Can Quit' a community-based smoking cessation intervention targeting women from areas of socio-disadvantage in Ireland., A process evaluation of 'We Can Quit' a community-based smoking cessation intervention targeting women from areas of socio-disadvantage in Ireland., BMC Public Health, 22, 2022, p1528-, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI
Martin Dempster, Nicola O'Connell, Christopher D. Graham, Cliodhna O'Connor, Lina Zgaga, Emma Burke, Luke Mather, Gail Nicolson, Joe Barry, Gabriel Scally, Ann Nolan. Katy Tobin, Philip Crowley and Catherine D. Darker, Non-adherence to COVID-19 containment behaviours: results from an all-Ireland telephone surv, BMC Public Health, 22, (898), 2022, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI
Castello S, Darker CD, Vance J, Dougall N, Linda Bauld L , Hayes CB, The We Can Quit2 Smoking Cessation Trial: Knowledge Exchange and Dissemination Following a Community-Based Participatory Research Approach, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health , 19, (4), 2022, p2333-, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI
  

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Gabriela M. Sorin, Catherine Darker , Lucy Whiston, Erica Donnelly-Swift, Joe Barry, Brendan D. Kelly, Physical and Mental Health in Post-Recession Ireland: A Community Study from Tallaght, Dublin, Meath Foundation , November, 2018, p1 - 14, Report, PUBLISHED
Darker, C.D., Health Gathering - what changes to local health and social care services are important to residents in Tallaght? , Health Gathering, Tallaght Stadium, Dublin , 2016, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
Darker, C.D., The Patients' Perspective - A Survey of Chronic Disease Management in Ireland, Adelaide Hospital Society Roundtable Meeting, Dublin, 2015, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
Darker, C.D. & O'Shea, B, Chronic Disease Management in Ireland. Perspectives from patients and clinical stakeholders - implications and recommendations for the Irish healthcare system, Adelaide Hospital Society Roundtable Meeting, Dublin, 2015, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
Darker CD, Whiston L, Long J, Donnelly-Swift E & Barry J, Health assets and needs assessment (HANA) in Tallaght, 2014, Dublin, 2015, Report, PUBLISHED
Darker C, Whiston L, O'Shea B, Chronic Disease Management in Ireland: Perspectives from patients and clinical stakeholders- implications and recommendations for the Irish healthcare system, Dublin, Adelaide Health Foundation, 2015, Report, PUBLISHED
Darker CD, Casey E, Seraukina T, Whiston L, & O'Shea B, The patients' perspective - a survey of chronic disease management in Ireland, Dublin, 2015, Report, PUBLISHED
Darker, C.D., Integrated healthcare in Ireland - a critical analysis and a way forward. , Integrated Care , Dublin, 2014, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
Darker, C.D., Contemporary Health Policy & Service Reforms - impact on Irish hospitals , The Mater Misericordiae University Hospital Annual Conference , Dublin, 2014, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
Darker, C.D., Universal healthcare for Ireland , Irish Medical Organisation meeting , Dublin, 2014, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED

  

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Award Date
Fellow of Trinity College Dublin April 2024
Nominated for Provosts Teaching Award 2018-2019 February 2018
Winner of Dean's Award for Innovation in Teaching 2016 May 2016
I lead on three themes across my research: Theme 1. Conduct of applied behavioural change research: My expertise encompasses the conduct of applied research aimed at addressing real-world health challenges. I design and execute studies that bridge the gap between theory and practice, generating actionable insights to inform policy and practice. This involves formulating research questions grounded in behavioural theory, designing robust study methodologies, and collecting and analysing data rigorously. I prioritise interdisciplinary collaboration and stakeholder engagement to ensure research relevance and impact. Through my research, I contribute valuable knowledge to the field of public health and support evidence-informed decision-making at various levels (e.g., smoking cessation, alcohol, physical activity) for the general public, people with chronic illnesses and healthcare professionals. Theme 2. Evaluation of health programmes and services: I excel in evaluating health policies, programmes, and services to assess their effectiveness and impact. Utilising both qualitative and quantitative methods, I conduct rigorous evaluations to determine whether interventions, programmes and services achieve their intended outcomes. This includes measuring changes in behaviour, health outcomes, and equity indicators. I also assess implementation fidelity, identify barriers and facilitators to success, and provide recommendations for improvement. My evaluations contribute to evidence-based decision-making, informing the refinement of existing policies and the development of new initiatives. My research has directly shaped and influenced clinical practice and health policy. For example, the result of my HRB funded brief intervention trial has changed the treatment of patients attending methadone services in Ireland. I routinely influence theory development and measurement. For example, my research demonstrated that the measurement of a popular theory in health psychology (theory of planned behaviour) is problematic for respondents to engage with; this has subsequently changed how researchers design this type of questionnaire. I incorporate evidence based processes into routine health practice and policy. For example, my process evaluation of the National Clinical Care Programmes in Ireland is shaping the reconfiguration of these Programmes nationally. Theme 3. Health policy implementation: My expertise lies in advising on policy implementation with a focus on using implementation science principles, by systematically studying the process of integrating evidence-based interventions into real-world settings. I help to identify barriers and facilitators, tailors strategies to context, engage stakeholders, and monitor progress, ensuring effective implementation and sustained impact of policies in diverse healthcare environments. I am far surpassing the Research Metrics of FHS for Associate Professor (minimum score of 7 points over 4 year period) with a personal score of 36.5 over a 4 year period; even with two maternity leaves). I have attracted over 2.4 million Euros in research funding to date, as PI or Co-Applicant, including HRB, IRC & HSE grants. I have published extensively in leading health journals (N=102 overall; N=73 as senior author; h-index 20). I have been cited 1842 times. My research has extensive reach and impact having been reported widely in print and broadcast media. For example, in the Irish Times and on national RTE radio. As a research leader I contribute significantly to the research reputation of the School and the College. I am a College leader in engaged research through a constant focus on Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) within my research. I use PPI from the design stage, improving the relevancy of the research and increasing its societal impact. I have supervised five PhD students to completion.