Welcome to Research Repository UCD

Research Repository UCD is a digital collection of open access scholarly research publications from University College Dublin. Research Repository UCD collects, preserves and makes freely available publications including peer-reviewed articles, working papers and conference papers created by UCD researchers. Where material has already been published it is made available subject to the open-access policies of the original publishers. This service is maintained by UCD Library.

Most downloaded
  • Publication
  • Publication
    Corporate governance, accountability and mechanisms of accountability : an overview
    Purpose – This paper reviews traditional corporate governance and accountability research, to suggest opportunities for future research in this field. The first part adopts an analytical frame of reference based on theory, accountability mechanisms, methodology, business sector/context, globalisation and time horizon. The second part of the paper locates the seven papers in the special issue in a framework of analysis showing how each one contributes to the field. The paper presents a frame of reference which may be used as a 'roadmap' for researchers to navigate their way through the prior literature and to position their work on the frontiers of corporate governance research. Design/methodology/approach – The paper employs an analytical framework, and is primarily discursive and conceptual. Findings – The paper encourages broader approaches to corporate governance and accountability research beyond the traditional and primarily quantitative approaches of prior research. Broader theoretical perspectives, methodological approaches, accountability mechanism, sectors/contexts, globalisation and time horizons are identified. Research limitations/implications – Greater use of qualitative research methods are suggested, which present challenges particularly of access to the “black box” of corporate boardrooms. Originality/value – Drawing on the analytical framework, and the papers in the special issue, the paper identifies opportunities for further research of accountability and corporate governance.
      32970Scopus© Citations 279
  • Publication
    Elderly care in Ireland - provisions and providers
    (University College Dublin. School of Social Justice, 2010-04) ;
  • Publication
  • Publication
    Equality in education : an equality of condition perspective
    (Sage Publications, 2005) ;
    Transforming schools into truly egalitarian institutions requires a holistic and integrated approach. Using a robust conception of 'equality of condition', we examine key dimensions of equality that are central to both the purposes and processes of education: equality in educational and related resources; equality of respect and recognition; equality of power; and equality of love, care and solidarity. We indicate in each case some of the major changes that need to occur if we are to promote equality of condition. Starting with inequalities of resources, and in particular with inequalities tied to social class, we argue for abandoning rigid grouping policies, challenging the power of parents in relation to both selection and grouping, and changing curricula and assessment systems to make them more inclusive of the wide range of human intelligences. In relation to respect and recognition, we call for much more inclusive processes for respecting differences, not only in schools' organizational cultures, but also in their curriculum, pedagogy and assessment systems. Regarding inequalities of power, we call for democratization of both teacher-student relationships and school and college organization. For promoting equality of love, care and solidarity, we argue that schools need to develop an appreciation of the intrinsic role that emotions play in the process of teaching and learning, to provide a space for students and teachers to talk about their feelings and concerns, and to devise educational experiences that will enable students to develop their emotional skills or personal intelligences as a discrete area of human capability.
      22853Scopus© Citations 130
  • Publication
    Discretionary disclosure strategies in corporate narratives : incremental information or impression management?
    (University of Florida. Fisher School of Accounting, 2007) ;
    The purpose of this paper is to review and synthesize the literature on discretionary narrative disclosures. We explore why, how, and whether preparers of corporate narrative reports use discretionary disclosures in corporate narrative documents and why, how, and whether users react thereto. To facilitate the review, we provide three taxonomies based on: the motivation for discretionary narrative disclosures (opportunistic behavior, i.e. impression management, versus provision of useful incremental information); the research perspective (preparer versus user); and seven discretionary disclosure strategies. We also examine the whole range of theoretical frameworks utilized by prior research, and we put forward some suggestions for future research.
  • Publication
    Using Twitter to recommend real-time topical news
    Recommending news stories to users, based on their preferences,has long been a favourite domain for recommender systems research. In this paper, we describe a novel approach to news recommendation that harnesses real-time micro-blogging activity, from a service such as Twitter, as the basis for promoting news stories from a user's favourite RSS feeds. A preliminary evaluation is carried out on an implementation of this technique that shows promising results.
      21261Scopus© Citations 332
  • Publication
    From asset based welfare to welfare housing? The changing function of social housing in Ireland
    (Routledge, 2011) ;
    This article examines a distinctive and significant aspect of social housing in Ireland – its change in function from an asset-based role in welfare support to a more standard model of welfare housing. It outlines the nationalist and agrarian drivers which expanded the initial role of social housing beyond the goal of improving housing conditions for the poor towards the goal of extending home ownership and assesses whether this focus made it more similar to the ‘asset based welfare’ approach to housing found in south-east Asia than to social housing in western Europe. From the mid-1980s, the role of Irish social housing changed as the sector contracted and evolved towards the model of welfare housing now found in many other western countries. Policy makers have struggled to address the implications of this transition and vestiges of social housing’s traditional function are still evident, consequently the boundaries between social housing, private renting and home ownership in Ireland have grown increasingly nebulous.
      20591Scopus© Citations 28
  • Publication
    Constructive approaches towards water treatment works sludge management : an international review of beneficial re-uses
    (Taylor & Francis, 2007-03) ;
    Till date, virtually all known drinking water processing systems generate an enormous amount of residual sludge, and what else to do with this rapidly increasing 'waste' stream in an economic and environmentally sustainable manner remains a significant environmental issue. Perhaps, the realization of this fact has led to series of concerted efforts aimed at beneficial re-uses in an effort to close the loop between efficient water treatment and sustainable sludge management. This paper therefore presents a comprehensive review of available literature on attempts at beneficial reuses of water treatment plant sludge, in an effort to provide a compendium of recent and past developments, and update our current state of knowledge. Four broad categories of uses, which included over eleven possible ways in which waterworks sludges can be reused were identified and examined. Obvious advantages of such reuse options were highlighted and knowledge gaps identified. Future issues that will assist in the development of sustainable waterworks sludge management options with a multi-prong approach were equally discussed.
      19725Scopus© Citations 371
  • Publication
    Expansive cements and soundless chemical demolition agents : state of technology review
    Expansive cements and soundless chemical demolition agents (SCDAs) were first introduced in the early 1970s but failed to gain widespread adoption for selective removal of rock and concrete due to their proprietary nature and a lack of usage guidelines. Nearly 40 years later, the patents have expired, and a large number of competitive products have entered the market. These factors coupled with a heightened interest in their potential environmental benefits have greatly expanded their usage. Specifically, these chemicals can be introduced into a pattern of small, drilled holes in concrete and/or rock. After a specific period (usually less than 24 hours), the in-situ material will crack sufficiently that it can be removed without the use of traditional explosives or further percussive efforts. The products generate substantially less noise and vibration than usually associated with the removal of rock and concrete. This paper provides a state-of-the-technology review of five available products. The focus is on the proposed applicability of various products under specific conditions. Special attention is paid to the viability of such agents under varying temperatures and with materials of particular strengths.
  • Publication
    Clustering with the multivariate normal inverse Gaussian distribution
    Many model-based clustering methods are based on a finite Gaussian mixture model. The Gaussian mixture model implies that the data scatter within each group is elliptically shaped. Hence non-elliptical groups are often modeled by more than one component, resulting in model over-fitting. An alternative is to use a mean–variance mixture of multivariate normal distributions with an inverse Gaussian mixing distribution (MNIG) in place of the Gaussian distribution, to yield a more flexible family of distributions. Under this model the component distributions may be skewed and have fatter tails than the Gaussian distribution. The MNIG based approach is extended to include a broad range of eigendecomposed covariance structures. Furthermore, MNIG models where the other distributional parameters are constrained is considered. The Bayesian Information Criterion is used to identify the optimal model and number of mixture components. The method is demonstrated on three sample data sets and a novel variation on the univariate Kolmogorov–Smirnov test is used to assess goodness of fit.
      17435Scopus© Citations 59
  • Publication
    Inequality and crime
    (MIT Press, 2000-11)
    This paper considers the relationship between inequality and crime using data from urban counties. The behavior of property and violent crime are quite different. Inequality has no effect on property crime but a strong and robust impact on violent crime, with an elasticity above 0.5. By contrast, poverty and police activity have significant effects on property crime, but little on violent crime. Property crime is well explained by the economic theory of crime, while violent crime is better explained by strain and social disorganization theories.
      17100Scopus© Citations 411
  • Publication
    Agent-based coordination for the sensor web
    The approach described advocates the use of a multi-agent system, and specifically the use of multi-agent distributed constraint optimisation algorithms. Developing software for low powered sensing devices introduces several problems to be addressed; the most obvious being the limited computational resources available. In this paper we discuss an implementation of ADOPT, a pre-existing algorithm for distributed constraint optimisation, and describe how it has been integrated with a reflective agent platform developed for resource constrained devices, namely Agent Factory Micro Edition (AFME). The usefulness of this work is illustrated through the canonical multi-agent coordination problem, namely graph colouring.
      15994Scopus© Citations 2
  • Publication
    Curriculum Design in Higher Education: Theory to Practice
    (University College Dublin. Teaching and Learning, 2015-09)
    This eBook emphasises the theory to practice of curriculum design in higher education. The book focuses on programme (not module) level of design; incorporates face-to-face, blended and online curricula; attempts to link theory to practice by giving some practical resources and/or exercises; draws the author's experiences of working and researching into curriculum design in the Irish higher education sector; is aimed at all staff involved in curriculum design, including academic staff (faculty), institutional managers, educational developers and technologists, support staff, library staff and curriculum researchers; is primarily drawn from literature and experiences in the higher education sector, however those in adult and further education may also find it useful. The structure of this book is based on a curriculum design process that the author has developed as part of her experience and research on curriculum design. 
  • Publication
    Visualization in sporting contexts : the team scenario
    Wearable sensor systems require an interactive and communicative interface for the user to interpret data in a meaningful way. The development of adaptive personalization features in a visualization tool for such systems can convey a more meaningful picture to the user of the system. In this paper, a visualization tool called Visualization in Team Scenarios (VTS), which can be used by a coach to monitor an athlete’s physiological parameters, is presented. The VTS has been implemented with a wearable sensor system that can monitor players’ performance in a game in a seamless and transparent manner. Using the VTS, a coach is able to analyze the physiological data of athletes generated using select wearable sensors, and subsequently analyse the results to personalize training schedules thus improving the performance of the players.
  • Publication
    Provision of childcare services in Ireland
    (University College Dublin. School of Social Justice, 2008-03) ;
    External report commissioned by and presented to the EU Directorate-General Employment and Social Affairs, Unit G1 'Equality between women and men'
  • Publication
    Michael White's narrative therapy
    (Springer Verlag, 1998)
    A systematized description of a number of practices central to Michael Whites' narrative approach to therapy is given. These include collaborative positioning of the therapist, externalizing the problem, excavating unique outcomes, thickening the new plot, and linking the new plot to the past and the future. The practices of remembering and incorporation, using literary means to achieve therapeutic ends, and facilitating taking-it-back practices are also described. A number of questions are given which may be useful for those concerned with narrative therapy to address.
      15019Scopus© Citations 101
  • Publication
    Financial statement fraud : some lessons from US and European case studies
    (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007-07) ;
    This paper studies 14 companies which were subject to an official investigation arising from the publication of fraudulent financial statements. The research found senior management to be responsible for most fraud. Recording false sales was the most common method of financial statement fraud. Meeting external forecasts emerged as the primary motivation. Management discovered most fraud, although the discovery was split between incumbent and new management.
      14846Scopus© Citations 33
  • Publication
    The effectiveness of family therapy and systemic interventions for child-focused problems
    (Wiley, 2009-02)
    This review updates a similar paper published in the Journal of Family Therapy in 2001. It presents evidence from meta-analyses, systematic literature reviews and controlled trials for the effectiveness of systemic interventions for families of children and adolescents with various difficulties. In this context, systemic interventions include both family therapy and other family-based approaches such as parent training. The evidence supports the effectiveness of systemic interventions either alone or as part of multimodal programmes for sleep, feeding and attachment problems in infancy; child abuse and neglect; conduct problems (including childhood behavioural difficulties, ADHD, delinquency and drug abuse); emotional problems (including anxiety, depression, grief, bipolar disorder and suicidality); eating disorders (including anorexia, bulimia and obesity); and somatic problems (including enuresis, encopresis, recurrent abdominal pain, and poorly controlled asthma and diabetes).
      14166Scopus© Citations 152
  • Publication
    Focus groups versus individual interviews with children : A comparison of data
    (Routledge (Taylor & Francis), 2006) ;
    In recent years there has been an increase in the use of qualitative data collection techniques in research with children. Among the most common of these methods are focus groups and individual interviews. While many authors claim that focus groups have advantages over individual interviews, these claims have not been tested empirically with children. The present study reports on the use of focus groups and interviews to collect qualitative data from 116 children in three age groups, with mean ages of 8.4, 11.5 and 14.3 years. The children were randomly allocated to participate in either focus groups or individual interviews where they were presented with identical material and questions relating to their beliefs about peers with psychological disorders. In line with previous research, the interviews produced significantly more relevant and unique ideas about the causes of these disorders than the focus groups, but the latter gave rise to greater elaboration of ideas. The participating children showed no significant difference in their preference for one method over the other. Thus, whether to choose individual interviews or focus groups is likely to depend on the nature of the research question in any given study.
      13977Scopus© Citations 40
Recent Submissions
  • Publication
    Cutting Through the Emissions: Feature Selection from Electromagnetic Side-Channel Data for Activity Detection
    Electromagnetic side-channel analysis (EM-SCA) has been used as a window to eavesdrop on computing devices for information security purposes. It has recently been proposed to use as a digital evidence acquisition method in forensic investigation scenarios as well. The massive amount of data produced by EM signal acquisition devices makes it difficult to process in real-time making on-site EM-SCA infeasible. Uncertainty surrounds the precise information leaking frequency channel demanding the acquisition of signals over a wide bandwidth. As a consequence, investigators are left with a large number of potential frequency channels to be inspected; with many not containing any useful information leakages. The identification of a small subset of frequency channels that leak a sufficient amount of information can significantly boost the performance enabling real-time analysis. This work presents a systematic methodology to identify information leaking frequency channels from high dimensional EM data with the help of multiple filtering techniques and machine learning algorithms. The evaluations show that it is possible to narrow down the number of frequency channels from over 20,000 to less than a hundred (81 channels). The experiments presented show an accuracy of 0.9315 when all the 20,000 channels are used, an accuracy of 0.9395 with the highest 500 channels after calculating the variance between the average value of each class, and an accuracy of 0.9047 when the best 81 channels according to Recursive Feature Elimination are considered.
    Scopus© Citations 7  3
  • Publication
    DeepUAge: Improving Underage Age Estimation Accuracy to Aid CSEM Investigation
    Age is a soft biometric trait that can aid law enforcement in the identification of victims of Child Sexual Exploitation Material (CSEM) creation/distribution. Accurate age estimation of subjects can classify explicit content possession as illegal during an investigation. Automation of this age classification has the potential to expedite content discovery and focus the investigation of digital evidence through the prioritisation of evidence containing CSEM. In recent years, artificial intelligence based approaches for automated age estimation have been created, and many public cloud service providers offer this service on their platforms. The accuracy of these algorithms have been improving over recent years. These existing approaches perform satisfactorily for adult subjects, but perform wholly inadequately for underage subjects. To this end, the largest underage facial age dataset, VisAGe, has been used in this work to train a ResNet50 based deep learning model, DeepUAge, that achieved state-of-the-art beating performance for age estimation of minors. This paper describes the design and implementation of this model. An evaluation, validation and comparison of the proposed model is performed against existing facial age classifiers resulting in the best overall performance for underage subjects.
    Scopus© Citations 11  2
  • Publication
    EMvidence: A Framework for Digital Evidence Acquisition from IoT Devices through Electromagnetic Side-Channel Analysis
    EM side-channel analysis (EM-SCA) is a branch in information security where the unintentional electromagnetic (EM) emissions from computing devices. This has been used for various purposes including software behaviour detection, software modification detection, malicious software identification, and data extraction. The possibility of applying EM-SCA in digital forensic investigation scenarios involving IoT devices has been proposed recently. When it is difficult or impossible to acquire forensic evidence from an IoT device, observing EM emissions of the device can provide valuable information to an investigator. This work addresses the challenge of making EM-SCA a practical reality to digital forensic investigators by introducing a software framework called EMvidence. The framework is designed to facilitate extensibility through an EM plug-in model.
  • Publication
    Smarter Password Guessing Techniques Leveraging Contextual Information and OSINT
    In recent decades, criminals have increasingly used the web to research, assist and perpetrate criminal behaviour. One of the most important ways in which law enforcement can battle this growing trend is through accessing pertinent information about suspects in a timely manner. A significant hindrance to this is the difficulty of accessing any system a suspect uses that requires authentication via password. Password guessing techniques generally consider common user behaviour while generating their passwords, as well as the password policy in place. Such techniques can offer a modest success rate considering a large/average population. However, they tend to fail when focusing on a single target - especially when the latter is an educated user taking precautions as a savvy criminal would be expected to do. Open Source Intelligence is being increasingly leveraged by Law Enforcement in order to gain useful information about a suspect, but very little is currently being done to integrate this knowledge in an automated way within password cracking. The purpose of this research is to delve into the techniques that enable the gathering of the necessary context about a suspect and find ways to leverage this information within password guessing techniques.
    Scopus© Citations 6  2
  • Publication
    Assessing the Influencing Factors on the Accuracy of Underage Facial Age Estimation
    Swift response to the detection of endangered minors is an ongoing concern for law enforcement. Many child-focused investigations hinge on digital evidence discovery and analysis. Automated age estimation techniques are needed to aid in these investigations to expedite this evidence discovery process, and decrease investigator exposure to traumatic material. Automated techniques also show promise in decreasing the overflowing backlog of evidence obtained from increasing numbers of devices and online services. A lack of sufficient training data combined with natural human variance has been long hindering accurate automated age estimation - especially for underage subjects. This paper presented a comprehensive evaluation of the performance of two cloud age estimation services (Amazon Web Service's Rekognition service and Microsoft Azure's Face API) against a dataset of over 21,800 underage subjects. The objective of this work is to evaluate the influence that certain human biometric factors, facial expressions, and image quality (i.e. blur, noise, exposure and resolution) have on the outcome of automated age estimation services. A thorough evaluation allows us to identify the most influential factors to be overcome in future age estimation systems.
    Scopus© Citations 3  2
  • Publication
    Automated Artefact Relevancy Determination from Artefact Metadata and Associated Timeline Events
    Case-hindering, multi-year digital forensic evidence backlogs have become commonplace in law enforcement agencies throughout the world. This is due to an ever-growing number of cases requiring digital forensic investigation coupled with the growing volume of data to be processed per case. Leveraging previously processed digital forensic cases and their component artefact relevancy classifications can facilitate an opportunity for training automated artificial intelligence based evidence processing systems. These can significantly aid investigators in the discovery and prioritisation of evidence. This paper presents one approach for file artefact relevancy determination building on the growing trend towards a centralised, Digital Forensics as a Service (DFaaS) paradigm. This approach enables the use of previously encountered pertinent files to classify newly discovered files in an investigation. Trained models can aid in the detection of these files during the acquisition stage, i.e., during their upload to a DFaaS system. The technique generates a relevancy score for file similarity using each artefact's filesystem metadata and associated timeline events. The approach presented is validated against three experimental usage scenarios.
    Scopus© Citations 6  3
  • Publication
    SoK: Exploring the State of the Art and the Future Potential of Artificial Intelligence in Digital Forensic Investigation
    Multi-year digital forensic backlogs have become commonplace in law enforcement agencies throughout the globe. Digital forensic investigators are overloaded with the volume of cases requiring their expertise compounded by the volume of data to be processed. Artificial intelligence is often seen as the solution to many big data problems. This paper summarises existing artificial intelligence based tools and approaches in digital forensics. Automated evidence processing leveraging artificial intelligence based techniques shows great promise in expediting the digital forensic analysis process while increasing case processing capacities. For each application of artificial intelligence highlighted, a number of current challenges and future potential impact is discussed.
    Scopus© Citations 19  5
  • Publication
    Evaluation of a formative peer assessment in research methods teaching using an online platform: A mixed methods pre-post study
    Background: In higher education settings, there are increasing calls to shift away from traditional summative assessment practices, such end of term written tests, to explore methods of assessing learning in alternative ways. Peer assessment has been advocated as a means of formative assessment to enhance student engagement, empowering students to take responsibility for their own learning. While there is accumulating evidence for the value of peer assessment in higher education, one cannot assume peer feedback will translate appropriately to all settings and educational contexts. Objectives: This study evaluated the implementation of formative online peer assessment in a nursing and midwifery research methods module. We explored students' expectations, experiences, and ultimately the acceptability of this approach. Design: A quantitative descriptive study. Setting: Ireland. Methods: An online survey to collate expectations and experiences of engagement in peer assessment. Scales were drawn from previous research and non-parametric tests explored changes in perceptions over time. Qualitative content analysis explored patterns evident in open-text responses. Results: The response rate was 28% (n = 74) at baseline and 31% at follow-up (n = 81). Peer assessment was a new experience for 95% of respondents. Students initially expressed apprehension, perceiving the task as daunting, and doubting their ability to provide feedback to peers. However, through providing instruction and tools to support students in the activity, high levels of satisfaction with the process and the experience were reported. Significant differences in perceptions of peer assessment were evident over time, including an enhanced belief that respondents had the requisite skills to appraise the work of their peers. Conclusions: In sum, nursing and midwifery students agreed that peer assessment was a valuable learning experience as part of research methods training and critical skills development.
    Scopus© Citations 7  5
  • Publication
    Community mobilization to strengthen support for appropriate and timely use of antenatal and postnatal care: A review of reviews
    (International Global Health Society, 2021-12-25) ; ; ; ;
    Background: Antenatal care (ANC) and postnatal care (PNC) are critical opportunities for women, babies and parents/families to receive quality care and support from health services. Community-based interventions may improve the accessibility, availability, and acceptance of this vital care. For example, community mobilization strategies have been used to involve and collaborate with women, families and communities to improve maternal and newborn health. Objective: To synthesize existing reviews of evidence on community mobilization strategies that strengthen support for appropriate and timely use of ANC and PNC. Methods: Six databases (MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, PsychINFO, Cochrane Library, PROSPERO) were searched for published reviews that describe community mobilization related strategies for ANC and/or PNC. Reviews were eligible for inclusion if they described any initiatives or strategies targeting the promotion of ANC and/or PNC uptake that included an element of community mobilization in a low- or middle-income country (LMIC), published after 2000. Included reviews were critically appraised according to the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) Checklist for Systematic Reviews and Evidence Syntheses. This review of reviews was conducted following JBI guidelines for undertaking and reporting umbrella reviews. Results: In total 23 papers, representing 22 reviews were included. While all 22 reviews contained some description of community mobilization and ANC/PNC, 13 presented more in-depth details on the community mobilization processes and relevant outcomes. Seventeen reviews focused on ANC, four considered both ANC and PNC, and only one focused on PNC. Overall, 16 reviews reported at least one positive association between community mobilization activities and ANC/PNC uptake, while five reviews presented primary studies with no statistically significant change in ANC uptake and one included a primary study with a decrease in use of antenatal facilities. The community mobilization activities described by the reviews ranged from informative, passive communication to more active, participatory approaches that included engaging individuals or consulting local leaders and community members to develop priorities and action plans. Conclusions: While there is considerable momentum around incorporating community mobilization activities in maternal and newborn health programs, such as improving community support for the uptake of ANC and PNC, there is limited evidence on the processes used. Furthermore, the spectrum of terminology and variation in definitions should be harmonized to guide the implementation and evaluation efforts.
    Scopus© Citations 9  5
  • Publication
    The role of psychosocial factors in explaining sex differences in major depression and generalized anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic
    Background: Understanding how pandemics differentially impact on the socio-protective and psychological outcomes of males and females is important to develop more equitable public health policies. We assessed whether males and females differed on measures of major depression and generalized anxiety during the COVID-19 the pandemic, and if so, which sociodemographic, pandemic, and psychological variables may affect sex differences in depression and anxiety. Methods: Participants were a nationally representative sample of Irish adults (N = 1,032) assessed between April 30th to May 19th, 2020, during Ireland’s first COVID-19 nationwide quarantine. Participants completed self-report measures of anxiety (GAD-7) and depression (PHQ-9), as well as 23 sociodemographic pandemic-related, and psychological variables. Sex differences on measures of depression and anxiety were assessed using binary logistic regression analysis and differences in sociodemographic, pandemic, and psychological variables assessed using chi-square tests of independence and independent samples t-tests. Results: Females were significantly more likely than males to screen positive for major depressive disorder (30.6% vs. 20.7%; χ2 (1) = 13.26, p < .001, OR = 1.69 [95% CI = 1.27, 2.25]), and generalised anxiety disorder (23.3% vs. 14.4%; χ2 (1) = 13.42, p < .001, OR = 1.81 [95% CI = 1.31, 2.49]). When adjusted for all other sex-varying covariates however, sex was no longer significantly associated with screening positive for depression (AOR = 0.80, 95% CI = 0.51, 1.25) or GAD (AOR = 0.97, 95% CI = 0.60, 1.57). Conclusion: Observed sex-differences in depression and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Republic of Ireland are best explained by psychosocial factors of COVID-19 related anxiety, trait neuroticism, lower sleep quality, higher levels of loneliness, greater somatic problems, and, in the case of depression, increases in childcaring responsibilities and lower trait consciousnesses. Implications of these findings for public health policy and interventions are discussed.
    Scopus© Citations 2  9
  • Publication
    A realist review protocol on communications for community engagement in maternal and newborn health programmes in low- and middle-income countries
    Background: Community engagement (CE) has been increasingly implemented across health interventions, including for maternal and newborn health (MNH). This may take various forms, from participatory women’s groups and community health committees to public advocacy days. While research suggests a positive influence of CE on MNH outcomes, such as mortality or care-seeking behaviour, there is a need for further evidence on the processes of CE in different settings in order to inform the future development and implementation of CE across programmes. Communication is an integral component of CE serving as a link between the programme and community. The aim of the realist review described in this protocol is to understand how, why, to what extent, and for whom CE contributes to intended and unintended outcomes in MNH programming, focusing on the communication components of CE. Methods: Realist review methodology will be used to provide a causal understanding of what communication for CE interventions in MNH programming work, for whom, to what extent, why, and how. This will be done by developing and refining programme theories on communications for CE in MNH through a systematic review of the literature and engaging key experts for input and feedback. By extrapolating context-mechanism-outcome configurations, this review seeks to understand how certain contexts trigger or inhibit specific mechanisms and what outcomes this interaction generates when communication in CE interventions is used in MNH programming. Discussion: A realist philosophy is well-suited to address the aims of this study because of the complex nature of CE. The review findings will be used to inform a realist evaluation case study of CE for an MNH programme in order to ascertain transferable findings that can inform and guide engagement activities in various settings. Findings will also be shared with stakeholders and experts involved in the consultative processes of the review (through workshops or policy briefs) in order to ensure the relevance of these findings to policy and practice.
    Scopus© Citations 2  6
  • Publication
    Community engagement to support COVID-19 vaccine uptake: a living systematic review protocol
    Introduction: Widespread vaccination against COVID-19 is one of the most effective ways to control, and ideally, end the global COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccine hesitancy and vaccine rates vary widely across countries and populations and are influenced by complex sociocultural, political, economic and psychological factors. Community engagement is an integral strategy within immunisation campaigns and has been shown to improve vaccine acceptance. As evidence on community engagement to support COVID-19 vaccine uptake is emerging and constantly changing, research that lessens the knowledgeto-practice gap by providing regular and up-to-date evidence on current best-practice is essential. Methods and analysis: A living systematic review will be conducted which includes an initial systematic review and bimonthly review updates. Searching and screening for the review and subsequent updates will be done in four streams: a systematic search of six databases, grey literature review, preprint review and citizen sourcing. The screening will be done by a minimum of two reviewers at title/abstract and full-text in Covidence, a systematic review management software. Data will be extracted across predefined fields in an excel spreadsheet that includes information about article characteristics, context and population, community engagement approaches, and outcomes. Synthesis will occur using the convergent integrated approach. We will explore the potential to quantitatively synthesise primary outcomes depending on heterogeneity of the studies. Ethics and dissemination: The initial review and subsequent bimonthly searches and their results will be disseminated transparently via open-access methods. Quarterly briefs will be shared on the reviews’ social media platforms and across other interested networks and repositories. A dedicated web link will be created on the Community Health-Community of Practice site for sharing findings and obtaining feedback. A mailing list will be developed and interested parties can subscribe for updates.
  • Publication
    Impact of COVID-19 on the private and professional lives of highly educated women working in global health in Europe—A qualitative study
    Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a deepening of existing inequalities and a rollback of achievements made in gender equality. Women in Global Health (WGH) is a global movement that aims to achieve gender equality in health and increase female leadership in global health. Here, the aim was to understand how the pandemic affects the private and professional lives of women working in global health in different European countries. Suggestions for future pandemic preparedness including how gender perspectives should be integrated into pandemic preparedness and how a women's network such as WGH helped them to overcome the impact of the pandemic were explored. Methods: Qualitative semi-structured interviews were conducted in September 2020 with a sample size of nine highly educated women with a mean age of 42.1 years from the different WGH European chapters. The participants were informed of the study and were formally asked for their consent. The interviews were held in English via an online videoconference platform and lasted 20–25 min each. The interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was conducted according to Mayring Qualitative Content Analysis using MAXQDA. Results: The pandemic has both positive and negative effects on the professional and private lives of women. It led to an increased workload and stress as well as pressure to publish on COVID-19-related themes. Increased childcare and household responsibilities represented a double burden. The available space was limited if other family members were also working from home. Positive aspects included more time for family or partners and reduced travel. The participants report on perceived gender differences in the experience of the pandemic. International cooperation is considered to be a key factor for future pandemic preparedness. Being part of a women's network such as WGH was perceived as being very supportive in difficult situations during the pandemic. Conclusion: This study provides unique insights into the experiences of women working in global health in different European countries. The COVID-19 pandemic influences their professional and private lives. Perceived gender differences are reported and suggest the need for integrating gender perspectives in pandemic preparedness. Networks for women, such as WGH, can facilitate the exchange of information in crises and provide women with professional and personal support.
  • Publication
    What’s in a name? Unpacking ‘Community Blank’ terminology in reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health: a scoping review
    Introduction: Engaging the community as actors within reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health (RMNCH) programmes (referred to as ‘community blank’) has seen increased implementation in recent years. While evidence suggests these approaches are effective, terminology (such as ‘community engagement,’ ‘community participation,’ ‘community mobilisation,’ and ‘social accountability’) is often used interchangeably across published literature, contributing to a lack of conceptual clarity in practice. The purpose of this review was to describe and clarify varying uses of these terms in the literature by documenting what authors and implementers report they are doing when they use these terms. Methods: Seven academic databases (PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, PsycINFO, Scopus, Web of Science, Global Health), two grey literature databases (OAIster, OpenGrey) and relevant organisation websites were searched for documents that described ‘community blank’ terms in RMNCH interventions. Eligibility criteria included being published between 1975 and 1 October 2021 and reports or studies detailing the activities used in ‘community blank.’ Results: A total of 9779 unique documents were retrieved and screened, with 173 included for analysis. Twenty-four distinct ‘community blank’ terms were used across the documents, falling into 11 broader terms. Use of these terms was distributed across time and all six WHO regions, with ‘community mobilisation’, ‘community engagement’ and ‘community participation’ being the most frequently used terms. While 48 unique activities were described, only 25 activities were mentioned more than twice and 19 of these were attributed to at least three different ‘community blank’ terms. Conclusion: Across the literature, there is inconsistency in the usage of ‘community blank’ terms for RMNCH. There is an observed interchangeable use of terms and a lack of descriptions of these terms provided in the literature. There is a need for RMNCH researchers and practitioners to clarify the descriptions reported and improve the documentation of ‘community blank’ implementation. This can contribute to a better sharing of learning within and across communities and to bringing evidence-based practices to scale. Efforts to improve reporting can be supported with the use of standardised monitoring and evaluation processes and indicators. Therefore, it is recommended that future research endeavours clarify the operational definitions of ‘community blank’ and improve the documentation of its implementation.
    Scopus© Citations 1  4
  • Publication
    Applying and reporting relevance, richness, and rigour in realist evidence appraisals: Advancing key concepts in realist reviews
    The realist review/synthesis has become an increasingly prominent methodological approach to evidence synthesis that can inform policy and practice. While there are publication standards and guidelines for the conduct of realist reviews, published reviews often provide minimal detail regarding how they have conducted some methodological steps. This includes selecting and appraising evidence sources, which are often considered for their 'relevance, richness, and rigour.' In contrast to other review approaches, for example, narrative reviews and meta-analyses, the inclusion criteria and appraisal of evidence within realist reviews depend less on the study's methodological quality and more on its contribution to our understanding of generative causation, uncovered through the process of retroductive theorising. This research brief aims to discuss the current challenges and practices for appraising documents' relevance, richness, and rigour and to provide pragmatic suggestions for how realist reviewers can put this into practice.
    Scopus© Citations 1  5
  • Publication
    Rehabilitation in the Fragile Health Systems of Low-Resource and Conflict-Affected Settings
    (University College Dublin. School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, 2023)
    The World Health Organization’s Rehabilitation 2030 initiative and call for action to integrate rehabilitation within health systems has led to increased collaborations, research projects and awareness since its launch in 2017. However, a large number of people with disabilities do not benefit from these developments as they live in countries of protracted conflict with health systems too fragile to prioritise rehabilitation. Research on rehabilitation in such contexts is still extremely rare and has not yet been conducted on a cross-national scale. Therefore, the aim of this PhD is to understand rehabilitation in the fragile health systems of low-resource and conflict-affected contexts to identify priorities for the development of rehabilitation services there and for future research. A mixed methods approach was employed. Two retrospective observational studies analysed the demographic and clinical characteristics of 287,274 rehabilitation users in 14 countries and the demographic and amputation characteristics of 28,446 rehabilitation users with amputation in five countries, using descriptive statistics. Data originate from an ICRC-developed database of routinely collected data on persons accessing ICRC-supported rehabilitation structures. Two qualitative focus group studies identified the perspectives of 35 ICRC-employed or -partner physiotherapists from 18 countries about barriers and facilitators of rehabilitation service development and about measuring rehabilitation outcomes in such contexts, using reflexive thematic analysis in an inductive and deductive approach to data analysis, respectively. To discuss study findings, the Rehabilitation in Conflict (RiC) framework was developed. It consists of the four components Context, Systems, Population and Services. Key findings were the diversity and complexity of context, which affects rehabilitation needs and how they are addressed. Indicators of weak health systems were found in all studies, as well as fragmented education, economic, and other systems. Rehabilitation users were characterised by low female representation, young age and disabilities caused by conflict and system challenges. Rehabilitation services were marked by a lack of recognition and health systems integration and a strong but insufficient workforce of mainly physiotherapists who lack appropriate outcome measures to reliably demonstrate impact. It is recommended that rehabilitation strengthening in such contexts starts on services level to drive change on systems level. This requires simple, reliable data collections, training, and service provision that pilots feasible, contextualised rehabilitation outcome measurement and models of care. Future research should explore disability prevalence, rehabilitation needs and outcomes including the perspectives of users, access barriers for women and possibly other neglected populations, using participatory approaches. Finally, implementation research is advised to investigate the development of rehabilitation in the most fragile contexts worldwide.
  • Publication
    Gender Based Violence Research Priorities: Results from a Research Prioritization Survey and Key Informant Interviews
    (Irish Consortium on Gender Based Violence, 2021-03-01)
    The Irish Consortium on Gender Based Violence (ICGBV) and University College Dublin (UCD) partnered to conduct a research prioritization exercise. The prioritization aims to understand ICGBV members’ research priorities across a variety of issues related to GBV. The first component of the prioritization research was to administer a survey to all ICGBV member organisations. The survey was developed by drawing on existing literature on GBV research and priorities, and with input from ICGBV’s Learning and Practice group and Secretariat. Following the survey, eight (8) Key Informant Interviews were conducted. These interviews involved gender experts from ICGBV organisations, and sought to triangulate and contextualise the findings from the survey. The interviews also served as a guide provide suggestions for a research strategy.
  • Publication
    Gunnera tinctoria invasions increase, not decrease, earthworm abundance and diversity
    Invasive plants often modify soil biotic communities through changes in soil physicochemical characteristics or the amount and/or quality of litter inputs. We assessed the impacts of Gunnera tinctoria invasions on soil and the earthworm community, on Achill Island, Co. Mayo, Ireland. We compared replicated (n = 5) areas invaded by G. tinctoria with uninvaded semi-natural grasslands, as well as with areas subjected to mechanical removal or herbicide treatment. Modifications in physiochemical properties included lower soil temperatures and higher soil pH during the summer in invaded areas, yet little effect on C and N stocks, or soil moisture. Marked differences in litter were observed, however, with invaded areas having c. 20-fold higher (above-ground) litter input than uninvaded ones, as well as lower C:N ratio (17 vs. 29). This was associated with a significantly higher overall abundance and biomass of earthworms in invaded plots (375 individuals m–2, 115 g biomass m–2), compared to the uninvaded control (130 individuals m–2, 45 g biomass m–2), with removal treatments having intermediate values. Earthworm communities comprised 10 species, typical for Irish grasslands, dominated by the common endogeic species Allolobophora chlorotica, Aporrectodea caliginosa and Aporrectodea rosea. Both earthworm species richness and Shannon diversity were significantly higher in invaded areas, but only in spring samples. Based on this new information, plant invaders may increase the abundance and diversity of earthworms, mainly due to much larger litter inputs, increased soil pH and possibly lower soil temperatures in the summer typical of Irish grasslands.
    Scopus© Citations 1  10
  • Publication
    The large Gunnera’s (G. tinctoria and G. manicata) in Europe in relation to EU regulation 1143/2014
    Incorrect labelling of plants in the horticultural trade and misidentification is widespread. For the inspection services of the EU member states, correct identification of G. tinctoria has become important since the species was added to the List of Union concern in accordance with EU regulation 1143/2014 in August 2017. In the horticultural trade Gunnera plants are generally of modest dimensions and rarely flowering, so that the major distinguishing morphological characters for the identification of the two large species, G. tinctoria and G. manicata, are missing. As G. tinctoria is included in the EU regulation, its trade is prohibited, although the closely related species, G. manicata is not included on the list. Given that it is often difficult to distinguish between these two large herbaceous species using morphological attributes we used standard chloroplast DNA barcode markers, supplemented at a later stage by ITS markers. Plant material of putative G. tinctoria or G. manicata was obtained from the native and introduced range, both from “wild” sources, botanical gardens, and the horticultural trade. In western Europe plants circulating in the horticultural trade turned out to be predominantly G. tinctoria, with only one plant in cultivation identified as true G. manicata and the G. manicata found in botanical gardens was a hybrid recently described as G. x cryptica.
  • Publication
    Variations in Soil Properties and CO2 Emissions of a Temperate Forest Gully Soil along a Topographical Gradient
    Although forest soils play an important role in the carbon cycle, the influence of topography has received little attention. Since the topographical gradient may affect CO2 emissions and C sequestration, the aims of the study were: (1) to identify the basic physicochemical and microbial parameters of the top, mid-slope, and bottom of a forest gully; (2) to carry out a quantitative assessment of CO2 emission from these soils incubated at different moisture conditions (9% and 12% v/v) and controlled temperature (25 °C); and (3) to evaluate the interdependence between the examined parameters. We analyzed the physicochemical (content of total N, organic C, pH, clay, silt, and sand) and microbial (enzymatic activity, basal respiration, and soil microbial biomass) parameters of the gully upper, mid-slope, and bottom soil. The Fourier Transformed Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) method was used to measure CO2 emitted from soils. The position in the forest gully had a significant effect on all soil variables with the gully bottom having the highest pH, C, N concentration, microbial biomass, catalase activity, and CO2 emissions. The sand content decreased as follows: top > bottom > mid-slope and the upper area had significantly lower clay content. Dehydrogenase activity was the lowest in the mid-slope, probably due to the lower pH values. All samples showed higher CO2 emissions at higher moisture conditions, and this decreased as follows: bottom > top > mid-slope. There was a positive correlation between soil CO2 emissions and soil microbial biomass, pH, C, and N concentration, and a positive relationship with catalase activity, suggesting that the activity of aerobic microorganisms was the main driver of soil respiration. Whilst the general applicability of these results to other gully systems is uncertain, the identification of the slope-related movement of water and inorganic/organic materials as a significant driver of location-dependent differences in soil respiration, may result in some commonality in the changes observed across different gully systems.
    Scopus© Citations 2  7