Deirdre Connolly
Associate Prof & Head of Department, Occupational Therapy


Dr. Connolly is an Associate Professor in the Discipline of Occupational Therapy. Her current research primarily focuses on designing and testing the effectiveness of occupation-focused self-management interventions for chronic diseases in primary health care. Her research in this area has led to the development of individual and group-based self-management interventions for individuals with rheumatic diseases, cancer and multi-morbidity. A further strand of Dr. Connolly's research programme is focused on evaluating the impact of community-based health and well-being programmes on occupational participation of community dwelling older adults. Her educational research has investigated the impact of inquiry and problem-based learning on development of students' knowledge and skills in undergraduate education, and the impact of inter-professional learning on development of professional identity of health science students. Dr. Connolly has published and presented her research nationally and internationally. Dr. Connolly has teaching responsibilities across the Discipline's undergraduate and post-graduate curricula in Dublin and Singapore. She is currently Course Director of the Discipline's taught MSc in Occupational Therapy. She has supervised MSc and PhD students to completion.

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

McCormack R, Doran M, O'Shea F, Connolly D., Impact of a Fatigue Management in work programme on meeting work demands of individuals with Rheumatic Diseases: A pilot study, Musculoskeletal Care, 2018 Journal Article, 2018 DOI

Bennett, A.E., O'Neill, L., Connolly, D., Guinan, E.M., Boland, L., Doyle, S.L., O'Sullivan, J., Reynolds, J.V., & Hussey, J., Patient experiences of a physiotherapy-led multidisciplinary rehabilitative intervention after successful treatment for oesophago-gastric cancer, Supportive Care in Cancer, 2018, p1 - 9 Journal Article, 2018 DOI URL

Boland L, Bennett K, Connolly D., Self-management interventions for cancer survivors: a systematic review, Supportive Care in Cancer, 2017 Journal Article, 2017 DOI

Fatigue in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus in, editor(s)Irvine, David , Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE): Risk factors, treatment options and clinical aspects, New York, Nova Biomedical, 2017, pp23 - 48, [Connolly, Deirdre] Book Chapter, 2017 TARA - Full Text Handle

O'Riordan R, Doran M, and Connolly D., Fatigue and Activity management education for individuals with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Occupational Therapy International, 2017 Journal Article, 2017 DOI

Connolly D, Garvey J, McKee G., Factors associated with ADL/IADL disability in community dwelling older adults in the Irish longitudinal study on ageing (TILDA), Disability and Rehabilitation, 39, (8), 2017, p809 - 816 Journal Article, 2017 URL DOI

Connolly D, O'Toole L, Fitzpatrick C, Doran M, and O'Shea F., Exploring the impact of fatigue on work ability of people with rheumatic disease, 2016, 69 Report, 2016 URL Handle TARA - Full Text

Connolly D. , Occupational therapy practice in primary care: responding to changing health priorities and needs, The Irish Journal of Occupational Therapy, 44, (2), 2016, p32 - 35 Journal Article, 2016 Handle TARA - Full Text

Kearns C, Connolly D., An exploration of the coping strategies and environmental supports used by parents of boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, The Irish Journal of Occupational Therapy, 43, 2016, p9 - 16 Journal Article, 2016

Garvey J, Connolly D, Boland S, Smith S., OPTIMAL, an occupational therapy led self-management support programme for people with multimorbidity in primary care: a randomized controlled trial, BMC Family Practice, 2015, p1 - 11 Journal Article, 2015 TARA - Full Text DOI

O'Toole L., Ryder R., Connor R., Yurick L., Hegarty F., Connolly D., Impact of a dance programme on health and well-being for community dwelling adults aged over 50 years, Physical & Occupational Therapy In Geriatrics , 33, (4), 2015, p303 - 319 Journal Article, 2015 DOI

Stapleton T, Connolly D, O'Neill D, Factors Influencing the Clinical Stratification of Suitability to Drive after Stroke: A Qualitative Study, Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 29, (3), 2015, p253 - 271 Journal Article, 2015 URL DOI

Connolly D., Fitzpatrick C., O'Toole, L., Doran M., O'Shea F., Impact of fatigue in Rheumatic Diseases in the work environment: A qualitative study, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, (12), 2015, p13807 - 13822 Journal Article, 2015 TARA - Full Text URL DOI

Connolly, D., McNally, A., Moran, D., Ryan, M., Fatigue in sytemic lupus erythematosus: impact on occupational participation and reported management strategies, British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 77, (7), 2014, p373 - 380 Journal Article, 2014 DOI

Lynam Ann-Marie, Corish Clare, Connolly Deirdre, Development of a framework to facilitate a collaborative peer learning 2:1 model of practice placement education, Nutrition & Dietetics, 2014 Journal Article, 2014 DOI

Lim SM, Stapleton T, Chan ML, Connolly D.., Evaluation of one-year occupational therapy degree course in Singapore., 16th International Congress of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists, Japan, 2014 Poster, 2014

Connolly, D. O'Toole, L, Redmond, P., Smith, S., Managing fatigue in patients with chronic conditions in primary care, Family Practice, 30, 2013, p123 - 124 Journal Article, 2013 DOI

O'Toole L, Connolly D, Smith S., Impact of an occupation-based self-management programme on chronic disease management., Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 60, 2013, p30 - 38 Journal Article, 2013 DOI

Stapleton T, Connolly D, O'Neill D, Exploring the relationship between self-awareness of driving efficacy and that of a proxy when determining fitness to drive after stroke., Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 59, (1), 2012, p63-70 Journal Article, 2012 DOI

Dugow, H. and Connolly, D., Exploring the impact of an independent living programme on activity participation of elderly people with chronic conditions, International Jourmnal of Therapy and Rehabilitation, 19, (3), 2012, p154 - 162 Journal Article, 2012 DOI

Connolly, D., Doyle, A., Martin, O. and Miklis, D., Exploration of work activities among people with young onset Parkinson's Disease: strategies and enablers to maintain worker role, Neuro-degenerative Diseases, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease: Advances, Concepts and New Challenges., Barcelona, March 9-13, 8,, (1-2,), Karger, 2011, ppS1 - 94 Meeting Abstract, 2011

Stapleton T, Connolly D, O'Neill D, Exploring readiness to assess fitness to drive after stroke, Cerebrovascular Diseases, 20th European Stroke Conference, Hamburg, May, 31, (Suppl 2), 2011 Meeting Abstract, 2011

Stapleton T, Connolly D, O'Neill D, Pre-cursive clinical reasoning underlying the stratification of acute andsubacute stroke patient's suitability to undertake a formal driving assessment , International Journal of Stroke, UK Stroke Forum Conference, Glasgow, 29/11 to 1/12/2011 , 6, (Supplement 2), 2011, pp50- Meeting Abstract, 2011

Stapleton T, O'Neill D, Connolly D, Examining optimum timing to assess fitness to drive among acute and subacute stroke patients, Irish Journal of Medical Science, Irish Gerontological Society, Dublin, 9-10 Sept 2011, 180, (Suppl 10), 2011, ppS329 Meeting Abstract, 2011 DOI

Empowering tutors: Strategies for Inspired and Effective PBL Learning in, editor(s)Barrett, T. and Moore, S. , New Approaches to Problem-Based Learning: Revitalising your practice in Higher Education, New York, Routledge, 2011, pp215-228 , [Connolly, D. and Silen, C.] Book Chapter, 2011

Connolly, D., Cassidy, C., Ní Mhurchú, E., Nolan, E., An exploration of individuals' perspectives on the impact of Parkinson's Disease on self-care, work and leisure activities, Movement Disorders, World Parkinson's Congress, Glasgow, Sept 28 - Oct 1st,, 25, (3), 2010, ppS712 - S712 Conference Paper, 2010

T. Stapleton, D. O'Neill, D. Connolly, R. Collins, Self-efficacy rating and driving assessment after stroke, Cerebrovascular Diseases, European Stroke Conference, Barcelona, May, 29, (Suppl 2), 2010 Meeting Abstract, 2010

Cahill M, Connolly D, Stapleton T, Exploring occupational adaptation through the lives of women with multiple sclerosis, British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 73, (3), 2010, p106 - 115 Journal Article, 2010 DOI

Stapleton, T. and Connolly, D., Occupational therapy practice in pre-driving assessment post stroke in the Irish context: Findings from a nominal group technique meeting, Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation , 17, (1), 2010, p58 - 68 Journal Article, 2010

Connolly, D., McNally, A., Moran, D., and Ryan, M., Fatigue in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: Impact on self-care, work and leisure., Physical Therapy Reviews, Rehabilitation and Therapy Research Society 6th Annual Conference, Trinity College Dublin, May, 2010, 15, (2), 2010, pp127 - 128 Conference Paper, 2010

Cassidy C, Ni Mhurchu E, Nolan E, Connolly D. ,, To determine the impact of Parkinson's Disease on occupational performance from the perspective of the individual with the condition,, Irish Journal of Medical Science , 57th Annual Scientific Meeting of Irish Gerontological Society, Belfast, Sept 25-26, , 178, (8), Springer, 2009, ppS309 - S309 Conference Paper, 2009

Connolly, D., PBL tutors facilitating active learning: What do students value?, Improving University Teaching Annual Conference, Vancouver, Canada, July 14-17, 2009, pp12 - 12 Conference Paper, 2009 URL

Connolly, D., Impact of problem-based learning on occupational therapy fieldwork practice, Transforming Healthcare through research, education and technology, Dublin, Nov 5-8, 2008, pp57 - 57 Conference Paper, 2008

Connolly, D., Rogers, C., Problem-based learning from the far side: impact on professional work practices, British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Edinburgh, Sept 3-5, 2008, pp90 - 90 Conference Paper, 2008

Connolly, D., The impact of problem-based learning on self-directed learning skills in the workplace, Probell Annual Research Conference, , Finland, April 3-4, 2008 Conference Paper, 2008

Connolly, D., Impact of PBL on professional knowledge and skills required for occupational therapy fieldwork practice, Annual conference of National Academy for Integration of Research & Teaching & Learning, Waterford, Nov 13-14, 2008, pp22 - 22 Conference Paper, 2008

Connolly, D., Problem-based learning from the far side: impact of PBL on professional practice, All Ireland Society of Higher Education Annual Conference, 2007., Maynooth, Ireland., Aug 30-31, 2007, pp58 - 58 Conference Paper, 2007

Connolly, D., The application of PBL to occupational therapy practice, International Conference PBL 2006 ABP, Peru, July 17-24, 2006, pp47 - 47 Conference Paper, 2006

Connolly, D., Continuing professional development of occupational therapists: a case study of PBL in work, PBL-2006 International Conference, Peru, July 17-24, 2006 Conference Paper, 2006

Continuing professional Development of Occupational Therapists: A Case Study of Problem-Based Learning in Work in, editor(s)Barrett, T.; Mac Labhrainn, I.; and Fallon, H. , Handbook of Enquiry and Problem-Based Learning: Irish Case Studies and International Perspectives, NUI Galway, CELT, 2005, pp147 - 155, [Connolly D.] Book Chapter, 2005

Connolly D., Flynn P., Spirituality in the reality of everyday practice: Part 2, Irish Journal of Occupational Therapy, 32, (1), 2002, p26 - 32 Journal Article, 2002

Connolly D., Problem-based learning in an occupational therapy course, Journal of Learning in Health and Social Care, 1, (3), 2002, p150 - 157 Journal Article, 2002

Connolly D., Flynn P., Spirituality in the reality of everyday practice: Part 1, Irish Journal of Occupational Therapy, 31, (1&2), 2002, p53 - 58 Journal Article, 2002

Connolly D., Donovan M., Student evaluation of a problem-based learning module into an occupational therapy course, Book of Proceedings from Association for Medical Education in Europe, 2001, pp4.31 - 4.31 Conference Paper, 2001

Connolly D. and O'Dowd, T.,, The impact of the different disabilities arising from head injury on the primary caregiver, The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 64, (1), 2001, p41 - 46 Journal Article, 2001

Non-Peer-Reviewed Publications

Connolly D, O'Toole L, Boland L, Cooney C, , Impact of Well-Dance on physical and mental health of older adults in the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown borough, 2016, p1 - 15 Report, 2016 TARA - Full Text Handle

Connolly D., Troy M., Mannion L., Reilly E., Ryder R., Review of the Rialto Community Health Project, Dublin, 2013, 40 Report, 2013 Handle TARA - Full Text

Research Expertise


As occupational therapy focuses on how chronic diseases interfere with people's abilities to perform everyday activities, Dr Connolly's research programme is focused on developing and testing the impact of primary care-based occupational therapy interventions for people with single chronic conditions and multimorbidity. To this end, she has developed OPTIMAL, a self-management, group-based intervention aimed at increasing activity participation for people with physical and mental health-related chronic conditions. OPTIMAL, has been tested in different healthcare contexts using different methodologies, including RCT, and has shown significant changes in activity participation and symptoms of illness burden including quality of life and depression. She is now evaluating OPTIMAL for cancer survivors using an RCT design. This research is carried in an inter-institutional, cross-disciplinary capacity with national and international collaborators. Dr Connolly has also designed, delivered and evaluated FAME (Fatigue and Activity Management), a six-week programme for people with chronic inflammatory/autoimmune diseases who experience significant fatigue. FAME has been delivered and evaluated with people with rheumatic diseases with positive outcomes. Dr. Connolly's research on self-management for chronic diseases and multimorbidity is internationally relevant and highly sustainable given the rising ageing demographic and the increasing incidence of chronic disease and multimorbidity globally. Developing evidence-based interventions for chronic diseases and multimorbidity is a priority for all health services. She has presented her research at occupational therapy-specific, multidisciplinary, national and international conferences, including invited key note addresses. She supervises PhD and MSc students.


  • Title
    • The OPTIMAL study: A randomized controlled trial and process evaluation of an OccuPaTIonal therapy led self MAnagement support programme for patients with muLtimorbidity in primary care
  • Summary
    • The prevalence and incidence of chronic disease and multimorbidity is increasing globally. Interventions are needed to improve health outcomes in mutlimorbidity and reduce the cost of healthcare services. This study will evaluate the impact of OPTIMAL on activity participation, mood and quality of life.
  • Funding Agency
    • Health Research Board
  • Date From
    • 07/09/15
  • Date To
    • 06/09/18
  • Title
    • The impact of fatigue on workability of people with connective tissue disorders.
  • Summary
    • Fatigue is a common symptom in chronic diseases with a reported prevalence rate of up to 90% for people with connective tissue disorders. It effects participation in many daily activities however, the impact of this symptom on ability to maintain employment is limited. Therefore the purpose of this study is: (i) to measure work disability in relation to levels of fatigue, (ii) identify effective fatigue management strategies in the workplace and (iii) explore peoples' experiences of reasonable accommodations provided by their employers to management of fatigue.
  • Funding Agency
    • National Disability Authority
  • Date From
    • 2014
  • Date To
    • 2015
  • Title
    • Examination of the impact of a falls prevention programme through dance.
  • Summary
    • The Dance Theatre of Ireland have developed a 10-week dance programme for community dwelling older adults to increase their self-confidence and contribute to prevention of falls. This study will therefore evaluate the impact of the programme on participants' falls self-efficacy, balance and mobility, levels and frequency of activity participation, mood, and quality of life. It will also explore participants' perceptions and experiences of the dance programme
  • Funding Agency
    • HSE/Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council Arts and Health project
  • Date From
    • January 2015
  • Date To
    • September 2015
  • Title
    • PBL.doc
  • Summary
    • This project is an enquiry/problem based learning initiative, positioned at the intersection of teaching, learning and research. It has been designed with three distinct aims: 1. to explore writing dispositions among students and staff; 2. to design, implement and examine the effectiveness, of four discrete academic writing programmes with four separate cohorts; 3. to examine the underlying impact that large/small group teaching and on-line/in-class environments have on learner-centred support.
  • Funding Agency
    • NAIRTL
  • Date From
    • 2011
  • Date To
    • 2012
  • Title
    • Examining assessment of fitness to drive among acute and subacute stroke patients
  • Summary
    • This study is aimed at examining the assessment process used in determining a person's fitness to drive following a stroke. It uses a mixed methodology to explore the clinical reasoning processes and relaibility of standardised assessments in deciding whether a person is safe to return to driving following a CVA.
  • Funding Agency
    • HRB
  • Date From
    • 2009
  • Date To
    • 2012


ACTIVITY PREFERENCES; AGE-RELATED IMPAIRMENT; Arts and health; Cancer Survivorship; Chronic Illness self-management; Continuing Professional Development; Education and Work; FALLS; Health attitudes and behaviour; Health outcomes; Higher Education; PARKINSON'S DISEASE; Primary care



Editorial Board Member:Annals of International Occupational Therapy 2017

Editorial Board Member: Occupational Therapy International 2009

Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland. 1996

Occupational Therapy Primary Care Advisory Group 2009

Facilitate: All Ireland network of Enquiry and Problem-Based Learning. 2008

AISHE: All Ireland Society of Higher Education 2007

Awards and Honours

Provost Teaching Excellence Award 2009