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Current Research Projects

How and why do financial incentives contribute to helping people stop smoking

Smoking is harmful to human health and programmes to help people stop smoking are key public health efforts that improve individual and population health outcomes. Research shows that financial incentives improve the success of stop smoking programmes. However, a better understanding of how they work is needed to better inform policy and to support building capability for implementation.

The research is a realist review investigating how, why, for whom and to what extent financial incentives impact on the success of individuals' efforts to stop smoking. The project is undertaken using realist review in the school of Pawson and Tilley and guided by the RAMESE project quality standards.

Data from international literature sources will be searched, screened, selected and synthesised into a set of explanatory findings. These findings will explain:

  1. Individual, community and programme level causal mechanisms that impact positively and negatively on the success of financial incentives in aiding efforts to stop smoking among a) general populations and b) pregnant women
  2. Which individual, community and programme level contexts are likely to enable both the success and failure of financial incentives in aiding in efforts to stop smoking among a) general populations and b) pregnant women
  3. How a health system can facilitate the provision of financial incentives in a manner that best supports the success of efforts to stop smoking among a. general populations and b. pregnant women.

The review is registered with Prospero and can be accessed here. A study protocol published in the BMJ-Open is forthcoming.

Dr Rikke Siersbaek, Research Fellow, is the lead methodologist and researcher on the project, supported by Research Fellow Dr Sarah Parker and Researcher Luisne Mac Conghail. Dr Sara Burke, Research Assistant Professor, is the Principal Investigator on this one-year research project with Dr Paul Kavanagh from the HSE's Health Intelligence Unit and the Tobacco Free Ireland programme as the lead knowledge user. Dr John Ford from the University of Cambridge is the senior methodologist providing oversight and support. This work is funded under the HSE’s Financial Incentives and Stop Smoking Services Research Award 2021 (FISSS2021)

PI: Research Assistant Professor Sara Burke
Centre Researchers: Dr Rikke Siersbaek, Dr Sarah Parker, Luisne Mac Conghail

The Frail Brain and the Frail Body: Impact of FRAILty and COGnitive impairment on trajectories, patterns and costs in care in old age (FRAIL-COG)

This HRB funded study led by Dr Lorna Roe, will explore the care of older adults living with frailty and cognitive impairment for the first time. It's widely acknowledged that services and supports are inadequate, and the needs of older adults are poorly understood. The study "The Frail Brain and the Frail Body: Impact of FRAILty and COGnitive impairment on trajectories, patterns and costs in care in old age (FRAIL-COG)" will use data from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) to examine the health trajectories of older adults living with concurrent frailty and cognitive impairment, and model how these trajectories determine the use and cost of health and social care; hours of informal care provided and the degree of functional decline. FRAIL-COG will provide valuable insights into the complex needs of older adults and identify gaps in service provision. The Health Service Executive (HSE) are knowledge partners in this project, ensuring a clear route for dissemination which will inform future service planning.

To find out more about this project, please email Dr Roe:

PI: Dr Lorna Roe

Evaluation of Dyadic Psychoeducational Interventions for People with Advanced Cancer and their Informal Caregivers (DIAdIC): An international randomized controlled trial

This is a six-country trial led by Vrije Universiteit Brussel (PI: Professor Joachim Cohen). The PaCE team led by Professor Normand is responsible for the economic evaluation work package.

For more details, click here

Trinity PI: Professor Charles Normand
Funding: European Commission

The BETTER-B Main Trial: An International, Multicentre, Randomised Controlled Pragmatic Phase III Trial of Mirtazapine to alleviate Breathlessness in Palliative and End of Life Care

This is a five-country trial led by King’s College London (PI: Professor Irene Higginson). The PaCE team led by Professor Normand is responsible for the economic evaluation work package.

For more details, contact us at

Trinity PI: Professor Charles Normand
Funding: European Commission

Palliative and end-of-life care data in Ireland: establishing the state of the nation, mapping future direction

Improving palliative and end-of-life care requires good data on current practices. However, we currently know little about the end-of-life phase in Ireland: where people die, what health care they use, how family and friends provide unpaid care, and how palliative care shapes these experiences. This project aims to improve knowledge and understanding of these questions. In collaboration with the HSE, Irish Hospice Foundation, HIPE and the All Ireland Institute for Hospice and Palliative Care. This project has a dedicated website with much more information about the aims and outputs of the project and with useful links.

For more details, contact

PI: Dr Peter May
Funding: Health Research Board, SDAP awards

Economics of palliative care: from international evidence to Irish policy

The aim of this project is to build a demographic/economic microsimulation model to predict the future older population in Ireland using TILDA data, and to evaluate policy options ex ante. In collaboration with University of Southern California and the Irish Department of Health.

For more details, contact us

PI: Dr Peter May
Funding: Health Research Board, ARPP awards

Resilience To Reform: Towards Dynamic Resilience in Health System Performance and Reform

Research Leader Award – November 2020- October 2025

The RESTORE research programme examines the key challenges facing the Sláintecare reform programme and evaluates strategies to facilitate its effective and thorough implementation in a complex adaptive system. It reviews the causality of how shocks to the system (such as COVID and the 2008 financial crisis) challenge or even facilitate reform. In particular, it evaluates public sector staff engagement over time as both a sign of resilience and a precondition for the implementation of effective change. The proposed research combines both qualitative data from stakeholder and key informant interviews, with quantitative data from surveys of health sector staff, alongside a review of key system metrics and the progress of reform. It will develop evidence-based strategies for policy makers in government to manage the competing tensions between system performance and reform to achieve universal care through enhanced resilience.

RESTORE project Components:

  1. Evaluating Health System Resilience
  2. Evaluating the challenges to large-scale reform and proposing strategic direction
  3. Assessing Staff Engagement Trends
  4. Building Resilience Theory

PI: Professor Steve Thomas

Centre Researchers: Dr Pádraic Fleming, Catherine O’Donoghue and Dr Arianna Almirall-Sanchez

Find out more

Foundations’ team researching how the COVID-19 response facilitates Irish health system reform

Health system foundations for Sláintecare implementation in 2020 and beyond - co-producing a Sláintecare Living Implementation Framework with Evaluation: Learning from the Irish health system’s response to COVID-19 is a Health Research Board Applied Partnership Award funded from 2019 to 2021.

A study protocol published on HRB Open is available here

Learn much more about the project and its outputs on the project’s stand-alone website.

PI: Dr Sara Burke
Centre Researchers: Dr Sarah Parker, Luisne Mac Conghail, Dr Rikke Siersbaek

Find out more

Enhancing the Evidence Base for Cost-Effectiveness Analysis in Ireland: Building Improvements from the Intervention-Specific to System-Wide Levels

Dr James O'Mahony, Assistant Research Professor at the Centre for Health Policy and Management, is Principal Investigator of a research programme titled "Enhancing the Evidence Base for Cost-Effectiveness Analysis in Ireland: Building Improvements from the Intervention-Specific to System-Wide Levels". Funded under the HRB’s Emerging Investigator Award scheme, the programme runs from August 2018 to September 2022. It involves three primary components: (i) enhancing cost-effectiveness modelling methods in cancer screening; (ii) improving our understanding of cost-effectiveness thresholds in the context of Ireland's hospital waiting lists; and, (iii) continued research within the CERVIVA consortium on the optimal prevention of HPV-related disease, including cervical cancer. Dr O'Mahony will be supervising a PhD candidate as part of the project. The programme involves collaboration with research partners from TCD, RCSI, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the NTPF and the ESRI

Palliative Care Economics (PaCE)

The Palliative Care Economics (PaCE) research group at Trinity College Dublin is among the most active in the field worldwide.

In the context of rising costs and poor outcomes associated with serious illness, we work with clinicians, policymakers and other social scientists to generate high-quality evidence on what care and interventions should be provided to and prioritised for which groups of patients. 

Our current research programme covers studies in Ireland, England, the United States, Jordan, and elsewhere.  We welcome collaboration with other investigators and centres interested in questions that relate to the quality, cost-effectiveness and appropriateness of care for people with serious and life-limiting illness.

Find out more

CERVIVA - Cervical cancer and HPV-related disease prevention

CERVIVA ( is a multidisciplinary research consortium with components drawing from the fields of health psychology, epidemiology, health economics and molecular medicine. CERVIVA's initial research focus was on cervical cancer prevention through screening, but this has broadened in recent years to encompass the prevention of other diseases caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

CERVIVA is led by Principal Investigators Professor John O'Leary and Assistant Professor Cara Martin, both of whom hold positions at the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital and Trinity College Dublin. They work with Dr James O'Mahony, a health economist investigating the cost-effectiveness of alternative HPV-associated cancer prevention strategies. This work constitutes a component of Dr O'Mahony's HRB-funded Emerging Investigator Award.

James' role with CERVIVA primarily concerns the simulation modelling of the cost-effectiveness of cervical cancer screening. The objective of which is to determine what novel screening tests offer the most appropriate balance of improved screening effectiveness to women and costs to the health system. James works in collaboration with Yi-Shu Lin, a PhD candidate at the centre on the simulation analysis of cancer screening.

The need for an ongoing research effort on HPV-associated disease stems from Ireland's relatively high incidence of cervical cancer. Ireland had lagged behind other countries in establishing an organised, population based national screening programme. Accordingly, screening coverage and consequent disease prevention had been less complete than that achieved in other countries. While Ireland has now achieved good screening coverage public, renewed efforts are required to maintain participation following the CervicalCheck controversy and more recent COVID-19 related service disruptions. Similarly, although HPV vaccination has been offered in Ireland since 2009, there is an emerging problem of incomplete vaccination coverage due to unfounded fears of adverse effects of the vaccine.

PI: Prof Charles Normand
Centre Researcher Dr James O'Mahony, Dr Padhraig Ryan and Margaret Martin-Carroll

The Irish Longitudinal Study of Aging (TILDA)

The Irish LongituDinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) is a large-scale, nationally representative, longitudinal study on ageing in Ireland, the overarching aim of which is to make Ireland the best place in the world to grow old.

TILDA collects information on all aspects of health, economic and social circumstances from people aged 50 and over in a series of data collection waves once every two years. TILDA is unique amongst longitudinal studies in the breadth of physical, mental health and cognitive measures collected. This data, together with the extensive social and economic data, makes TILDA one of the most comprehensive research studies of its kind both in Europe and internationally.

The study is a multidisciplinary project supported and guided by a cross-institutional team of experts from the Dundalk Institute of Technology, the Economic and Social Research Institute, the National University of Ireland Galway, Queen’s University Belfast, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork, University College Dublin and the Waterford Institute of Technology.
Funding has been provided by Irish Life, the Atlantic Philanthropies and the Department of Health.

Principal Investigator: Prof Rose-Anne Kenny
Co-PI:Professor Charles Normand

For more information: