UCD Centre for Interdisciplinary Research Education and Innovation in Health Systems (UCD IRIS Centre)
Our work is characterised by systems thinking, interdisciplinary and intersectoral working, patient and public involvement and robust evidence synthesis, informing the collaborative design of health systems interventions and professional development programmes, as well as contributing to methodological innovation and strong networks and partnerships.
Thinking Systems - Improving Health - Inspiring Change
For details on educational programmes provided by UCD IRIS members, please follow this link.
A health system consists of all organizations, people and actions whose primary intent is to promote, restore or maintain health (World Health Organisation (WHO). Six basic components, which the WHO refers to as System Building Blocks are common to all health services (service delivery, health workforce, information, medicines and technologies, financing, leadership/governance) and the goals of health systems can be simplified as responsiveness, efficiency, improved health and social and financial risk protection.
“Public health [today] enjoys commitment, resources, and powerful interventions... but the power of these interventions is not matched by the power of health systems to deliver them to those in greatest need, on an adequate scale and on time... This arises, in part, from the fact that research on health systems has been so badly neglected and underfunded... In the absence of sound evidence, we will have no good way to compel efficient investments in health systems.”
Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization
"Yet all too often reform efforts are not evaluated adequately. Each innovation in health systems constitutes a learning opportunity. Not to take advantage of these opportunities condemns us to rediscover at great cost what is already known or to repeat past mistakes”.
Dr. Julio Frenk, President, University of Miami, formerly Faculty Dean, Harvard School of Public Health, Secretary of Health of Mexico
Studying and Researching with the Health Systems Group
Health Systems research students will gain a greater understanding of how health services are being planned and delivered, what may be facilitating or preventing access to health care, and what policy or protocol changes may be necessary to make health systems equitable for all. The doctoral programme in Health Systems will provide students greater depth and preparation to conduct research about the performance of health systems. We offer an interdisciplinary course of study designed to provide students with advanced knowledge, analytical skills, and competencies in health policy, planning, financing, management, evaluation; and research on health systems. The overall goal of the PhD programme in Health Systems is to produce thought leaders in the management, practice, and research dealing with health systems. The PhD programme in Health Systems prepares students to become independent investigators in academic and non-academic research institutions, and emphasises contributions to theory and practice. Graduates of the programme will have developed competencies to play leadership roles in developing and strengthening health systems.
Building upon UCD's role as a leader in transforming health systems and the formalised collaborative relationships UCD has with Ireland East Group Hospitals and the strong partnerships UCD has with major health systems in Europe and Low and Middle Income Countries, the curriculum draws on an interdisciplinary faculty with expertise in nursing and midwifery, health policy, management, psychology, implementation science, social gerontology, disability studies, gender studies and sociology.
Dr. Thérѐse McDonnell presented at Health Economics Association of Ireland (HEAI) Seminar Series Autumn/Winter 2020
On 30th September 2020, Dr. Thérѐse McDonnell presented results from the CUPID Project to the Health Economics Association of Ireland (HEAI), the first presentation of the HEAI's monthly Virtual Seminar Series for Autumn/Winter 2020. The presentation outlined the impact of the introduction of free GP care for children aged under 6 on attendance at Emergency Departments in Ireland.
Roisin O’Donovan delivered presentation of her PhD work at the ISQua World Patient Safety Day
On 17 September 2020, the World Health Organization organised World Patient Safety Day. The theme for this year was "Health Worker Safety: A Priority for Patient Safety". Everyone working in healthcare was invited to speak up for health worker safety. The webinar was attended by 190 participants from 54 countries. What a fantastic audience to have!
Ms Róisín O’Donovan is a PhD student at the UCD Centre for Research, Education and Innovation in Health Systems (UCD IRIS) at the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems in University College Dublin. Since joining UCD Health Systems in October 2016, she has worked on the 'Collective Leadership and Safety Cultures' (Co-Lead). Her involvement in this project furthered her interest in research as a tool for positive change within the Irish healthcare system and the use of co-design methodologies to understand and find ways to tackle the challenges faced by healthcare teams. Her PhD research is focused on understanding and improving psychological safety in healthcare teams. This research is funded under the Irish Research Council Employment-Based Postgraduate Programme and her employment partner, the Ireland East Hospital Group. She holds a BA(Hons) in Applied Psychology (University College Cork) and a Masters in Psychological Science (University College Dublin).
January 2019 - Dr. Sabrina Anjara spoke at the National Senior Police Officers Meeting in Jakarta
e invitation of Indonesia’s National Police Chief, Dr Sabrina Anjara (Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Co-Lead Project, Health Systems) spoke at the National Senior Police Officers Meeting in Jakarta, on 31 January 2019. Sabrina presented the results of her recent research at the University of Cambridge. During her trip, Sabrina was also invited to speak at the Coordinating Ministry of Politics, Law, and Security with distinguished members of the audience representing institutions such as the Ministry of Communication & Information, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
UCD Health Systems Research Showcase
On the 24th October 2018 the UCD Health Systems Research Group hosted its first research showcase event in the UCD Charles Institute, Belfield, Dublin 4. The purpose of the Showcase was to present the range of current Health Systems research projects to our health services and other partners, and to offer an opportunity for discussion of future research areas and collaborations. Please click on this link to read brief summaries about selected projects and explore Health Systems webpage for more information on relevant research activities.
October 2018 - Prof Eilish McAuliffe visiting the Australian Institute for Health Innovation
Prof Eilish McAuliffe visiting the Australian Institute for Health Innovation where she met with Prof Jeffrey Braithwaite, Founding Director of AIHI and Director of Centre for Healthcare Resilience and Implementation Science (CHRIS) and Prof Johanna Westbrook, Director of the Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research (CHSSR) and members of their research teams. Pictured here with Dr Robyn Clay-Williams, Senior Research Fellow and Lead for Human Factors & Resilience Research, Centre for Healthcare Resilience and Implementation Science (CHRIS).
June 2018 - Prof Eilish McAuliffe, Health Systems Group, UCD visits WHO Centre for Health Development, Kobe, Japan, to discuss research and development issues related to Assistive Technology.
On the 20th October 2017 the HRB-Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TMRN) and UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems hosted its 3rd ‘Trial Methodology Symposium’ in the Radisson Blu, St Helens Hotel, Dublin. The purpose of the Symposium was to stimulate discussions between scientists, citizens, research organisations, journalists and other media personnel to think more deeply about the parts we can all play in ensuring that our science connects with society in a meaningful and transparent way. The Symposium was officially launched by Dr Mairead O Driscoll, interim CEO of the Health Research Board (HRB), followed by Dr Sandra Galvin, Programme Manager of the HRB-TMRN. The theme of this year’s Symposium was“Transparency in Trials”.
The HRB-TBRN is a successful, well recognised national support network. It is a collaborative initiative between several Irish and international higher education institutes and methodology centres led by Professor Declan Devane, NUI Galway. Its objective is to strengthen the methodology and reporting of trials in health and social care in Ireland so that they become more relevant, accessible and influential for patients and other support users, practitioners, policy makers and the public.
A list of notable, high-caliber speakers were presenting at this Symposium, including Dr. Ben Goldacre, a best-selling author, broadcaster, campaigner, medical doctor and academic who specialises in unpicking the misuse of science and statistics by journalists, politicians, quacks, drug companies, Dr. Síle Lane from Sense About Science who highlighted the important AllTrials campaign, Dr Richard Morey, Cardiff University, who discussed the role of reviewers in increasing transparency in trials, Dr. Trish Groves from the British Medical Journal who covered why, when and how should trialists share clinical trial data and, finally, Dr. Teresa Maguire from the Department of Health, spoke about the role of evidence-informed decision making in health nationally.
Also contributing at this event were the four HRB-TMRN PhD scholars who are the first national cohort of PhD students specifically working on the topic of trial methodology.
L-R: Ms. Marina Zaki, Ms. Caroline Hurley, Dr. Ben Goldacre, Ms. Aislinn Conway, Ms. Jessica Power
As part of the Health Sciences Summer School Róisín Shortall T.D and Chairperson of the Special Committee on the Future of Healthcare presented on the Sláintecare report. Following the presentation there was a panel discussion chaired by Prof. Eilish McAuliffe with contributions from those working in the system and members of the public:
Mr Eugene Callan, Disability Federation of Ireland Public representative on the SAFE Project - Systematic Approach to Improving care for Frail Older patients
Dr Diarmuid O Shea, Consultant physician in medicine for the elderly and head of department in St Vincent's University Hospital and clinical lead on the National Programme for Older Persons with the Health Service Executive
Róisín Shortall T.D and Chairperson of the Special Committee on the Future of Healthcare. Watch video
Attendance at the UL Public and Patient Involvement in Research Summer School
Dr Éidín Ní Shé recently attended the UL Public and Patient Involvement in Research Summer School that was held at the University of Limerick on 22-23 June 2017. Éidín was presented with a copy of the recently published UL Engage report that she had contributed to on 'Creating Community Research Partnerships-Field Notes from the 'Count Me in' Project' by Alphonse Basogomba and Associate Professor Maura Adshead (pictured).
European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology 2017 Congress
As part of the Co-Lead research programme, Ms Una Cunningham (pictured) presented a poster based on her on-going research at the European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology (EAWOP) in Dublin on May 19, 2017. The title of the poster: 'Understanding the factors that enable Irish healthcare teams to work effectively: A realist approach - Stage 1 Building Programme Theory'.
At the same conference, Dr Aoife De Brún presented a paper based on a social network analysis study within the Co-Lead research programme. The title of the paper: 'Using social network analysis to map leadership networks in a new hospital group: Does collective leadership emerge?'. BMJ International Forum on Quality and Safety
Dr. Aoife De Brún presented at the BMJ International Forum on Quality and Safety in London, UK, 26 - 28 April 2017. Poster presented as part of the Co-Lead research programme: A qualitative analysis of the early functioning of a newly established hospital network: Understanding experiences of hospital integration at leadership level.
From care spaces to caring systems - TEDx talk at Queen Margaret University
On April 21, 2017 Professor Thilo Kroll, Professor of Health Systems Management, UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems, delivered a talk about the importance of supporting families in pluralistic and dynamic societies: From care spaces to caring systems.
This talk was given at a TEDx event in Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. Please click on this link to watch the presentation.
Exchange Visits between Staff from the UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems and the School of Nursing, Meru University in Kenya
Dr. Gabrielle O'Kelly, Programme Director, Higher Diploma in Mental Health, and Dr. Purity Mwendwa, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems, recently travelled to Meru University in Kenya to explore the possibility of establishing a collaboration between UCD and Meru University. Two members of staff from the School of Nursing in Meru University, Dr Naomi Mutea, the Dean of the School and MaryJoy Kaimuri then paid a return visit early in April. Meru University welcomed its first cohort of B.Sc. Nursing students in January of this year and the University is keen to collaborate with nursing programmes that are well established. This visit was made possible through the award of the ESTHER Ireland Small Grant Scheme, a European initiative that involves the twinning of European institutions with those in developing countries to strengthen health care services by building expertise and sharing experience. Because UCD keeps an external focus, seeking to lead and shape agendas through alliances and partnerships with its peers, nationally and internationally, it is envisioned that such a partnership will serve to fulfil this mission and enhance UCD’s reputation as Ireland’s Global University.
HRB-TMRN START Radio Podcast
On March 22, 2017 Ms. Marina Zaki (HRB-TMRN PhD Scholar, UCD Health Systems) was interviewed on Galway Bay FM and Connemara FM Radio stations talking about the HRB-TMRN START (Schools Teaching Awareness of Randomised Trials) Clinical Trials Competition for Children. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN (Skip to 58:30).
Africa Health Agenda International Conference
Dr. Purity Mwendwa presented a paper at the Africa Health Agenda International Conference held from 7th - 9th March 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya. Title of the Paper: "Assessing the demand for community health workers’ social support: Perspectives of mothers in rural Rwanda".
1st National Patient Safety Conference
Dr. Éidín Ní Shé and Karen Egan delivered presentation on Medical Professionalism in Relation to Safety: Junior Doctors’ Experiences in Practice at the 1st National Patient Safety Office conference on 7th and 8th December 2016. Please click here to view the presentation.
HRB 30-year Anniversary Conference
Professor Eilish McAuliffe delivered a speech about challenging cultures and systems at the HRB National Health Research Conference. The conference took place in Dublin Castle on November 30, 2016. Please click on this link to watch Prof. McAuliffe's presentation. The conference programme can be viewed at this link.
2nd Annual HRB-TMRN Trial Methodology Symposium
Ms. Marina Zaki (HRB-TMRN PhD Scholar, UCD) and Mr. David Farrar (HRB-TMRN Summer Scholar, UCD) presented their research in the 2nd Annual HRB-TMRN Trial Methodology Symposium in October, 2016 in the Kingsley hotel in Cork. Please click on this link to watch a few minute video clip on event's highlights.
Research Conversations in UCD, MMUH and SVUH
A new series of ‘research conversations’ has begun in the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, St Vincent’s University Hospital and the College of Health Sciences in UCD. These conversations are open to all staff across the healthcare disciplines in the hospitals and the college and are intended to help foster research communities and collaborations across these sites.
Global Health Realist Group gives workshop on realist methods
Members of the Global Health Realist Group from CGH ran a workshop through the HRB - Trials Methodology Research Network at UCD O'Brien Centre fo Sciences on February 25th, 2016. During this workshop Centre for Global Health staff introduced realist methodology, and provided examples of their own work using realist reviews and realist evaluations in global health.
The Global Health Realist Group aims to provide a space for academics and practitioners interested in realist methodology in global health to collaborate, learn together, and work towards the advancement of these research methodologies. If you are interested in joining the group or would like more information, please read more here, or join the LinkedIn group by emailing email@example.com.
Launch of the HRB-Trials Methodology Research Network (HRB-TMRN)
On the 24th and 25th of September 2015, the launch of the HRB-Trials Methodology Research Network took place in the Gibson Hotel, Dublin. The network (HRB-TMRN) is a new, collaborative initiative between a number of Irish and international higher education institutes and methodology centres. Its mission is to strengthen the methodology and reporting of trials in health and social care on the island of Ireland so that they become more relevant, accessible and influential for patients and other service users, practitioners, policy makers and the public. This will be achieved through a programme of work relating to the methodology of trials and focussed on (i) support (ii) training and education and (iii) research and innovation.
The Director of the network, Professor Declan Devane, the Co-Ordinator, Dr. Sandra Galvin, along with the Executive Committee, and CEO of the HRB, Dr Graham Love, welcomed all attendees to the official launch. Professor Eilish McAuliffe, Head of Health Systems in UCD and Ms. Marina Zaki, who has recently started her PhD programme in the UCD Health Systems group, attended the event and met with the other participants and PhD students from the network’s partner sites.
Sir Iain Chalmers, Co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration was keynote speaker and gave an interesting account of “The James Lind Library: Illustrating the Evolution of Fair Tests of Treatments”. The PhD students associated with the network also gave brief presentations on their research. Day two of the event was dominated by a series of parallel workshops on a variety of topics related to the conduct of trials from Sample Size Calculations to Studies within a Trial/Review (SWATS/SWARS) to Health Behaviour Change Strategies for Clinical Trials.
Above: Prof. Eilish McAuliffe, UCD Health Systems and Prof. Declan Devane, Director of the HRB-TMRN.
Below L-R: Ms. Marina Zaki, PhD student in Health Systems, UCD I Ms. Jessica O’Dowd, PhD student, TCD I Ms. Lydia Emerson, MRC-HTMR PhD Student, Queen’s University, Belfast I Sir Iain Chalmers, Co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration I Ms. Aislinn Conway, PhD student, NUIG I Ms. Caroline Hurley, PhD student, UCC.
Marina Zaki (on the left of the picture above) is the UCD PhD scholar working on the HRB-TMRN. She obtained her BSc. (Pharmacology) from the School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Sciences in UCD in 2013, carried out her BSc. Research project in the University of Copenhagen (Erasmus) and was awarded her MSc. (Translational Medicine) from King’s College London in 2015. The focus of Marina’s PhD project will be looking at bringing awareness to the benefits of statistician involvement from the beginning of clinical trials; the roles they play, their impact on the conduct of trial designs, decision making, reporting and the publication of trial results. Marina is studying under the supervision of Professor Eilish McAuliffe with co-supervisors Dr. Marie Galligan (Biostatistician and Clinical Research Tutor, School of Medicine, UCD) and Professor Declan Devane (Director of the HRB-TMRN and Professor of Midwifery, NUI Galway).
For additional information on the HRB-TMRN visit http://www.hrb-tmrn.ie/
Health systems research addresses policy and service delivery questions that have implications for the performance of the health system as a whole. It addresses a wide range of questions, from health financing, governance, and policy to problems with structuring, planning, management, human resources, service delivery, referral pathways, patient pathways, quality of care, performance management and health outcomes. Health systems research, by necessity, is highly multidisciplinary, with a strong emphasis on social and health sciences disciplines. Often there is considerable involvement with policy makers, managers and other healthcare professionals.
What distinguishes health systems research is its audience which tends to be broader than a particular service, team or unit. A question that often arises is how does health systems research differ from health services research, operational research and implementation science? The reality is that they are not mutually exclusive research domains and all of these may form components of a health systems research project. For example, a project whose aim is to develop a model of community-based management of a chronic condition that is currently managed in a hospital setting, might begin with an epidemiological study to determine need for the service and an operational research study to understand how the condition is currently managed for patients.
The next step could be trialling a community intervention. If this proves successful there will be a need for an implementation science study to identify what is necessary to put this successful model into practice throughout the system. Additional questions that a health systems study might address are how does this new model impact on staffing requirements? What are the positive and negative impacts on other services? Could the same model be applied to other services? What are the impacts on patient quality of life? What is the impact on productivity, throughput and cost?