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Centre for Improving Health-Related Quality of Life (CIHRQoL)

Members of the Centre for Improving Health-Related Quality of Life (CIHRQoL) are psychologists with expertise in health psychology, clinical psychology, methodology and quantitative and qualitative analysis. Our research focuses on the development of effective interventions and the identification of valid and reliable outcome measures.

Members of CIHRQoL have a wealth of research experience in modelling the psychosocial factors that are associated with quality of life (QoL); using this information to develop interventions and examine their feasibility; and evaluating these interventions in terms of their effectiveness. We recognise that the ability to determine the effectiveness of an intervention is governed by the appropriateness of the outcome measures that are used to assess QoL. Yet, QoL is a complex phenomenon, and so our research experience and methodological and statistical expertise in the development and evaluation of outcome measures ensures that CIHRQoL is extremely well-placed to develop outcome measures and advise on discriminating between existing outcome measures.

To date, our research has focused on people with persistent physical symptoms (pain, cough, breathlessness) and medical conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and among people receiving palliative care. Recognising the impact of long-term illness on not only the person with the illness but also on those who care for them, our research is also concerned with improving the QoL of family members and with the QoL of health professionals.

Our research has also focused on mental health constructs including the measurement and modelling of psychological trauma, psychosis, addiction and related constructs using a range of methodological and statistical approaches.

We work in close collaboration with a number of health professionals across the HSC Trusts in Northern Ireland and in health care settings and universities across the world. Members of the Centre have attracted funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Marie Curie, Health Foundation, Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke, the local R&D Office and local HSC Trusts.


Academic Staff

Dr Martin Dempster


Dr Pauline Adair


Dr Donncha Hanna


Dr Lisa Graham-Wisener


Dr Jenny Groarke


Dr Paul Toner


Dr Emma Berry


Dr David McCormack


Dr David Curran


Dr Brent Thompson


Dr Christopher Graham


 PhD Students

Juliana Abboud

Stephen Clarke

Madeleine Dalsklev

Rachel Johnston

Rachel McIlveen

Katie O'Donnell

Callum Urquhart


Recent Publications (last 3 years)


Walsh, J., & Groarke, J. M. (in press). Integrating behavioural science with mobile (mHealth) technology to optimise health behaviour change interventions. European Psychologist.


Graham-Wisener, L., Collins, L., Hanna, J. & Dempster, M. (in press). The need for enhanced psychological support in esophageal cancer- an exploratory study of the perception of HCPs, patients and carers. Diseases of the Esophagus


Martinez, K., Frazer, S.F., Dempster, M., Hamill, A., Fleming, H. & McCorry, N.K. (in press). Psychological factors associated with self-management among adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes: a review. Journal of Health Psychology


Turkington, C., Dempster, M. & Maguire, J. (in press).  Adjustment to hand injury: cross sectional survey exploring adjustment in relation to illness perceptions and coping strategies. Journal of Hand Therapy


Groarke, J. M., & Hogan, M. J. (2018). Development and psychometric evaluation of The Adaptive Functions of Music Listening Scale. Frontiers in Psychology, 9:516. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00516


Berry, E., Davies, M. & Dempster, M. (2018). Managing Type 2 Diabetes as a couple: The influence of partners’ beliefs on diabetes distress over time. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, 141, 244-255.


Smyth, J.A., Dempster, M., Warwick, I., Wilkinson, P. & McCorry, N.K. (2018). A systematic review of the patient and carer related factors affecting the experience of pain for advanced cancer patients cared for at home. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 55(2), 496-507.


Martinez, K.M., Lockhart, S., Davies, M., Lindsay, J.R. & Dempster, M. (2018). Diabetes distress, illness perceptions and glycemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes. Psychology, Health & Medicine 23(2), 171-177.


McCain, S., McKinley, N., Dempster, M., Campbell, J. & Kirk, S. (2018). A study of the relationship between resilience, burnout and coping strategies in doctors. Postgraduate Medical Journal 94, 43-47.


Gormley, G.J., Dempster, M., Corry, R. & Brennan, C. (2018). When right could be so wrong. Laterality errors in healthcare. Ulster Medical Journal 87, 3-10.


Mitchell, R., Hanna, D., Brennan, K., Curran, D., McDermott, B., Ryan, M., & Dyer, K. F. (2018). Alienation Appraisals Mediate the Relationships between Childhood Trauma and Multiple Markers of Posttraumatic Stress. Journal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 1-9.



McAteer, A. M., Hanna, D., & Curran, D. (2018). Age-related differences in alcohol attention bias: a cross-sectional study. Psychopharmacology, 1-7.


Shannon, S., Brennan, D., Hanna, D., Younger, Z., Hassan, J., & Breslin, G. (2018). The Effect of a School-Based Intervention on Physical Activity and Well-Being: a Non-Randomised Controlled Trial with Children of Low Socio-Economic Status. Sports medicine-open4(1), 16.


Black, P., Hanna, D., Quinn, P., & Dyer, K. (2018). Examining the Experience of Undergoing Group Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy68(2), 195-203.


Brady, L-M., Templeton, L., Toner, P., Watson, J., Evans, D., Percy-Smith, B. & Copello, A. (2018). Involving young people in drug and alcohol research. Drugs and Alcohol Today, 18(1), 28-38. DOI: 10.1108/DAT-08-2017-0039


Khadjesari, Z., Stevenson, F., Toner, P., Linke, S., Milward, J. & Murray, E. (2018). “I’m not a real boozer”: a qualitative study of primary care patients’ views on drinking and its consequences. Journal of Public Health, fdy067, DOI: 10.1093/pubmed/fdy067


Mills, R., McCusker, C. G., Tennyson, C., & Hanna, D. (2018). Neuropsychological outcomes in CHD beyond childhood: a meta-analysis. Cardiology in the young28(3), 421-431.


McCormack, D., & Chalder, T. (2018). Horses for courses: choosing an evidence-based psychological therapy for your patient. BJPsych Advances, 24(6), 402-411.


McCormack, D., & Chalder, T. (2018). Medically Unexplained Symptoms. In S. Moorey & A. Lavender (Eds.) In The Therapeutic Relationship in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. London: Sage.


Graham-Wisener, L. & Dempster, M. (2017). Peer advice giving from post-treatment to newly diagnosed esophageal cancer patients. Diseases of the Esophagus 30, 1-7.


O’Connor, S.R., Dempster, M. & McCorry, N. (2017). Identifying models of delivery, care domains and quality indicators relevant to palliative day services: A scoping review protocol. Systematic Reviews, 6: 100.


Berry, E., Davies, M. & Dempster, M. (2017). Exploring the effectiveness of couples interventions for adults living with a chronic physical illness: A systematic review. Patient Education and Counseling, 100, 1287-1303.


Berry, E., Davies, M. & Dempster, M. (2017). Illness perception clusters and relationship quality are associated with diabetes distress in adults with Type 2 diabetes. Psychology, Health & Medicine, DOI: 10.1080/13548506.2017.1281976



Jeffers, L., Reid, J., Fitzsimons, D., Morrison, P.J., Dempster, M. (2017). Interventions to improve psychosocial well-being in female BRCA-mutation carriers following risk-reducing surgery. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews Issue 12. Art. No.: CD012894.


McKay, M.T., Dempster, M. & Perry, J.L. (2017).  Academic self-efficacy partially mediates the relationship between Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation and composite attainment score. Frontiers in Psychology


Mongan, D., Shannon, C., Hanna, D., Boyd, A., & Mulholland, C. (2017) The association between specific types of childhood adversity and attenuated psychotic symptoms in a community sample. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 2017;1–9. 


Vaughan, R., Hanna, D., & Breslin, G. (2018). Psychometric Properties of the Mental Toughness Questionnaire 48 (MTQ48) in Elite, Amateur and Non-athletes. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 7(2), 128-140.


Shannon, S., Breslin, G., Fitzpatrick, B., Hanna, D., & Brennan, D. (2017). Testing the psychometric properties of Kidscreen-27 with Irish children of low socio-economic status. Quality of Life Research26(4), 1081-1089.


Dorahy, M. J., McKendry, H., Scott, A., Yogeeswaran, K., Martens, A., & Hanna, D. (2017). Reactive dissociative experiences in response to acute increases in shame feelings. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 89, 75-85.


Mitchell, R., Brennan, K., Curran, D., Hanna, D., & Dyer, K. F. (2017). A Meta‐Analysis of the Association Between Appraisals of Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress in Children and Adolescents. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 30(1), 88-93.


Breslin, G., Shannon, S., Fitzpatrick, B., Hanna, D., Belton, S., & Brennan, D. (2017). Physical activity, well-being and needs satisfaction in eight and nine-year-old children from areas of socio-economic disadvantage. Child Care in Practice, 1-17.


Breslin, G.,  Fitzpatrick, B., Brennan, D.,  Shannon, S., Rafferty, R., O'Brien, W., Belton, S., Chambers, F., Haughey, T., McCullagh, D., Gormley, R. & Hanna, D. (2017) Physical activity and wellbeing of 8–9 year old children from social disadvantage: An all-Ireland approach to health, Mental Health and Physical Activity, 13, 9-14.



Toner, P., Böhnke, J.R. & McCambridge, J. (2017). A systematic review of alcohol screening and assessment measures for young people: study protocol. BMJ Open, 7:e016406.                         DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016406


Watson, J., Toner, P., Day, E., Back, D., Brady, LM., Fairhurst, C., Renwick, C., Templeton, L., Akhtar, S., Lloyd, C., Li, J., Cocks, K., Ambegaokar, S., Parrott, S., McArdle, P., Gilvarry, E. & Copello, A. (2017). Y-SBNT: Adaptation of a family and social network intervention for young people who misuse alcohol and drugs: a randomised controlled feasibility trial. Health Technology Assessment, 21(15). DOI: 10.3310/hta21150


McCormack, D., & Edozien, L. C. (2017). Assessment and Management of Nausea and Vomiting during Pregnancy: A Biopsychosocial Approach. In L. C. Edozien and P.M O’Brien (Eds.) Biopsychosocial Factors in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Andersen, P., Toner, P., Bland, M. & McMillan, D. (2016). Effectiveness of transdiagnostic Cognitive Behavior Therapy for anxiety and depression in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 44(6), 673-690. DOI: 10.1017/S1352465816000229


Mdege, N., Chevo, T. & Toner, P. (2016). Perceptions of current and potential public health involvement of pharmacists in developing nations: The case of Zimbabwe. Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy, 12(6), 876-884. DOI: 10.1016/j.sapharm.2015.11.010


Murtagh, E.M., Dempster, M. & Murphy, M.H. (2016).  Determinants of uptake and maintenance of active commuting to school. Health & Place, 40, 9-14.


Kehoe, A., Dempster, M., McManus, J. & Lewis, S. (2016). Stress and coping in parents of newly born twins. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology


Hill, R., Dempster, M., Donnelly, M. & McCorry, N.K. (2016). Improving the wellbeing of staff who work in palliative care settings: a systematic review of psychosocial interventions. Palliative Medicine, 30, 825-833.


Gaitan-Sierra, C. & Dempster, M. (2016). Choosing to engage and choosing to persist: The role of non-specific factors in health-promoting activities. British Journal of Health Psychology, 21, 515-532.


Gray, J. D., Hanna, D., Gillen, A., & Rushe, T. (2016). A closer look at Carver and White's BIS/BAS scales: Factor analysis and age group differences. Personality and Individual Differences, 95, 20-24.



Bradley, M. C., Hanna, D., Wilson, P., Scott, G., Quinn, P., & Dyer, K. F. (2016). Obsessive–compulsive symptoms and attentional bias: An eye-tracking methodology. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 50, 303-308.


Shannon, C., Hanna, D., Tumelty, L., Waldron, D., Maguire, C., Mowlds, W. & Mulholland, C. (2016). Reliability of Reports of Childhood Trauma in Bipolar Disorder: A Test-retest Study over Eighteen Months. Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 17 (4), 511-519.


Dorahy, M. J., Renouf, C., Rowlands, A., Hanna, D., Britt, E., & Carter, J. D. (2016). Earthquake aftershock anxiety: An examination of psychosocial contributing factors and symptomatic outcomes. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 21(3), 246-258.


Groarke, J. M., & Hogan, M. J. (2016). Enhancing wellbeing: An emerging model of the adaptive functions of music listening. Psychology of Music, 44(4), 769-791 DOI: 10.1177/0305735615591844


Groarke, A., Curtis, R., Groarke, J. M., Hogan, M. J., Gibbons, A., & Kerrin, M. (2016). Post-traumatic growth in breast cancer: How and when do distress and stress contribute? Psycho-Oncology, DOI: 10.1002/pon.4243.


Gibbons, A., Groarke, A., Curtis, R., & Groarke, J. M. (2016). The effect of mode of detection of breast cancer on stress and distress. Psycho-Oncology, DOI: 10.1002/pon.4227.


Gower, C. Higgins, A. Doherty, N. & McCormack, D. (2016). Understanding the experiences of fathers of children with congenital heart disease: An interpretative phenomenological analysis. Journal of Health Psychology, 11, 1447- 1457.