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Snapshots of Child and Youth Research across Trinity College Dublin

Trinity researchers are engaged in world leading transformative projects in all aspects of children's lives. These are carried out in diverse settings ranging from the laboratory to the child's home. Individual scholarly work examining historical and contemporary aspects of children's lives sits alongside multidisciplinary studies designed to inform interventions to improve the health and welfare of children. Our work is marked by this collegiate approaches which blur traditional subject boundaries in our pursuit of answers to all embracing research questions.

On this page you will gain a glimpse into some of the research projects for and with children and young people underway across Trinity College Dublin. We also invite you to Our Researchers' pages to explore the wider range of research interests being pursued across the university.

For a peek into the work of our PhD Researchers, head over to our PhD Research page.

Snapshot Categories

Snapshot: Research Events

PhD Researcher, TRiCC member, and Children's Research Network Advisory Committee member Amy Stapleton speaks at key European Youth Education and Human Rights event

Amy speaking at the event

Amy Stapleton was invited to represent the Children's Research Network, TRiCC and the international youth organisation, Voices of Young Refugees in Europe (VYRE) at the European Conference Youth for Human Rights: The role and potential of youth work for Human Rights Education mainstreaming. The conference, which took place in Tallinn, Estonia on October 29th-30th, 2019, brought together more than 100 stakeholders from all over Europe, including Erasmus+ National Agencies, European institutions, local/regional/national authorities, universities, NGO’s, human rights education experts, trainers, youth workers and other stakeholders eager to contribute and commit to the mainstreaming of human rights education.

With the aim of strengthening the commitment and initiate human rights education (HRE) mainstreaming in youth work at local, national and European level, Amy discussed her experiences of good practice examples and challenges related to the potential for cross-sectoral cooperation. She also provided input on recommendations and commitments at local, regional, national and European level. The results of the conference will be conveyed as policy recommendations to be taken on board in youth programmes and youth policies’ development.

Amy Stapleton, PhD Researcher

For further information on this event, or her work, please contact Amy


Snapshot: Student Research Scholarships

HRB Summer Student Scholarship winner, TCD Medical Student Alison Bell, undertakes critical paediatric research under the supervision of Dr Cormac V Breatnach

Alison Bell with Crumlin polar bears

Dr Cormac V Breatnach (Senior Clinical Lecturer with Trinity College Dublin and Consultant Paediatric Intensivist for CHI at Crumlin) supervised Alison Bell (TCD medical student) for her HRB Summer Student Scholarship. Title of the project was "Predictive value of a lung biopsy, in the paediatric Down Syndrome population, for determining the utility for cardiac surgical repair"

Children with Down Syndrome are often born with heart problems that requires complex surgery. Before we can do surgery on a baby's heart, we need to know that their lungs are strong enough to cope with the operation. For some babies with Down Syndrome, we find that their lungs do not work as well as they could. In Children’s Health Ireland, Crumlin, we take a piece of the lung (while the baby is given an anaesthetic) and look at it under a microscope to see if the lungs look healthy enough for a surgery. There isn't much guidance to tell us if looking at a piece of the lung tells us important information or not. We want to review the charts of all babies in our hospital, with Down Syndrome, who had a piece of their lung examined to see if the test is correct in telling us which babies with Down Syndrome should have complex heart surgery or not. This will help us in deciding what care is best for babies with Down Syndrome not just in our hospital but for everyone who cares for babies with Down Syndrome who need heart surgery.

Dr Cormac Breatnach

For further information on this study, please contact Dr Cormac V Breatnach


Snapshot: Recent Publications

Launch of the report 'USI National Report on Student Mental Health in Third Level Education'

Photo of the launch

On 27th August 2019, the report 'USI National Report on Student Mental Health in Third Level Education' was launched in Trinity College Dublin with Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor (Minister of State for Higher Education).

This report has gained attention in the media, including being featured on the Six One News on RTE.

From the preface by Lorna Fitzpatrick - President, Union of Students in Ireland 2019/2020:
"In 2018, the Union of Students in Ireland launched the USI National Student Mental Health Survey and reached out to students across the island of Ireland to participate and give honest and raw feedback about their mental health, the services provided for them both on and off campus and everything in between. Little did we know, the sheer depth of information that we would gain from this report and it is all due to students honesty when taking part in the survey. Whilst reading the findings, it is easy to see that students shared with us their most inner thoughts and emotions and for this, we are extremely grateful. Students gave us a wealth of data that we now see so clearly laid out in the pages of the National Report on Student Mental Health in Third Level Education, we will use this data and strive to improve mental health services at third level for all students."

(photo -left to right:
Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor;
Lorna Fitzpatrick, President Union of Students in Ireland 2019/2020;
Hazel A Smith, co-author of the report, and Adjunct Lecturer of Paediatrics, TCD;
Aoife Price, lead author of the report, previous Mental Health Project Manager of Union of Students in Ireland, now PhD student with NUIG.)

Citation: Price, A. and Smith, HA. (2019) USI National Report on Student Mental Health in Third Level Education, Dublin: Union of Students in Ireland.

Read the Report

Hazel-Ann Smith

Dr Hazel Ann Smith, Adjunct Lecturer in Paediatrics, Trinity College Dublin and Research Coordinator for Children's Health Ireland, Crumlin, Co-Author of the Report .


Launch of the HSE National Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Training Resource

Photo of the launch

This manual was developed by the HSE National Social Inclusion Office in partnership with Sonas. It draws from and builds on the HSE Practice Guide on Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence: For staff working with children and families (Health Service Executive, 2012).

In 2016, the HSE National Social Inclusion Office commissioned a national training programme to support front-line HSE staff to develop the skills to recognise and respond to victims of DSGBV in vulnerable or at-risk communities. The tender was awarded to Sonas, the largest provider of front-line services to women and children experiencing domestic abuse in the greater Dublin region. To date 34 participants have attended two Train the Trainer programmes delivered by Sonas with a further train the trainer programme due to be rolled out later this year.

Speaking after the launch, Social Inclusion Lead Diane Nurse said “I extend sincere thanks to Ruth Armstrong (HSE) and Cristina Hurson (Sonas) for their commitment to the development of this resource. We are very grateful to the practitioners who shared their expertise and material, in particular Siobán O’Brien Green. Specifically designed to be an easy-to-use resource and complement the training programme, we hope that this manual will support front-line staff in their work to improve responses to DSGBV within the HSE”.

Read and Download the Manual

Siobán O’Brien Green

Trinity College Dublin PhD Candidate, Siobán O’Brien Green, acted as expert consultant on the project.


TRiCC Director, Professor Trevor Spratt, joins forces with John Devaney and John Frederick in their new British Journal of Social Work article - Adverse Childhood Experiences: Beyond Signs of Safety; reimagining the organisation and practice of social work with children and families

Wordcloud of article

While an ACE informed approach to child protection and welfare has become influential in the United States, it has had markedly less influence in the UK, this despite growth in adoption of ACE research as a basis for understanding population needs and aligning service delivery amongst policy makers and other professional groups.

In this paper we note the development of ACE research and draw out implications for social work with children and families. We argue that current organisational and practice preoccupations, drawing on the example of the Signs of Safety programme, together with antipathy to ACEs in some quarters of the social work academy, have the effect of reifying a short term and occluded view of the developing child’s needs so as to obstruct the systemic analysis and changes necessary to ensure that the child welfare system is redesigned to meet such needs. This suggests that post Kempe era child welfare services are no longer conceptually or systemically adequate to protect children beyond immediate safety outcomes and consequently we need to reimagine their future.

Trevor Spratt, John Devaney, John Frederick; Adverse Childhood Experiences: Beyond Signs of Safety; Reimagining the Organisation and Practice of Social Work with Children and Families, The British Journal of Social Work, bcz023,

Go to Journal

Read the authors’ draft of the article

Professor Trevor Spratt

For further information please contact Professor Spratt


Let’s hear it from the children! The voice of young people, silenced by domestic violence, needs our attention…NOW! - Recent article published in the Children's Research Network Children's Research Digest

Photo boy singing or shouting into a recording studio microphone by jason-rosewell

This article explores the development of the active intervention, ‘up2talk’, for teenagers affected by domestic violence. A societal silence affects all stages of community based inquiry into awareness of domestic violence levels, and supports available for teenagers. This has been intensified by cutbacks in services for prevention education and support groups such as Cosc: The National Office for the Prevention of Domestic Sexual and Gender-based Violence (2016), and Guidance counselling in schools (Humphreys, 2014). The intervention programme ‘up2talk’ was conducted with five teenagers, exploring the effects of domestic violence on their social emotional learning (SEL). The purpose of ‘up2talk’, was to address some negative effects of the violence for teenagers, including isolation, shame and self-blame.

Go to Research Article

Norah Sweetman

Norah Sweetman is a Doctoral Researcher at the School of Education, Trinity College Dublin. Her initial training as a Montessori teacher shaped her literacy, and social emotional learning (SEL) programmes for young people in alternative education, clubs, and schools. Her professional career working in marginalised communities with education and development projects, led her to research the effects of domestic violence on teenagers by means of an active SEL programme.

Population Pharmacokinetic Modelling of Acetaminophen and Metabolites in Children After Cardiac Surgery With Cardiopulmonary Bypass

Photo of Population Pharmacokinetic Modelling of Acetaminophen and Metabolites in Children After Cardiac Surgery With Cardiopulmonary Bypass

Children undergoing cardiopulmonary bypass often receive acetaminophen as part of their postoperative pain treatment. However, the effect of altered hemodynamics and/or use of cardiopulmonary bypass on the pharmacokinetics (PK) of acetaminophen for this cohort of patients remains unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the PK of intravenous acetaminophen in children after cardiopulmonary bypass. Our study population included 17 and 13 children with and without Down Syndrome, respectively. All children received 3 intravenous acetaminophen doses of 7.5 mg/kg (‹10 kg) or 15 mg/kg (≥10 kg) at 8–hour intervals after cardiopulmonary bypass surgery. We preformed PK analysis on 161 concentrations of acetaminophen, acetaminophen sulfate, acetaminophen glucuronide, and oxidative metabolites using NONMEM 7.2.

Clearance of acetaminophen and metabolites increased linearly with body weight. Acetaminophen clearance, for a typical child with a body weight of 6.1kg, was 0.96 L/h and the volume of distribution was 7.96 L. None of the remaining covariates, including Down Syndrome, significantly impacted on any of the PK parameters for acetaminophen. When comparing the PK parameters of acetaminophen in children after cardiopulmonary bypass surgery to those reported in the literature of children who are the same age after noncardiac surgery the clearance of acetaminophen was lower and volume of distribution higher.

Mian, P. , Valkenburg, A. , Allegaert, K. , Koch, B. , Breatnach, C. , Knibbe, C. , Tibboel, D. and Krekels, E. (2019), Population Pharmacokinetic Modeling of Acetaminophen and Metabolites in Children After Cardiac Surgery With Cardiopulmonary Bypass. The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. doi:10.1002/jcph.1373

Go to Journal

Dr Cormac Breatnach

For further information please contact Dr Cormac V Breatnach


Why Measures Matter Report - Authored by Professor Trevor Spratt, Dr Lorraine Swords and Dr Dovile Vilda

Photo of Minister and children with report

Launched in November 2018 by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, Why Measures Matter describes and evaluates a system for monitoring the effectiveness of early childhood and family centre services provided by the Daughters of Charity Child and Family Service.

Authored by TRiCC Researchers Professor Trevor Spratt, Dr Lorraine Swords and Dr Dovile Vilda, the report demonstrates that children and parents in receipt of the Daughters of Charity Child and Family Service show benefits across a range of domains encompassing child socio-emotional and behavioural functioning, parent mental health, child-parent relationship quality, school readiness, and children's coping responses. Recommendations include incorporating the measure of Adverse Childhood Experiences so as to explore links between exposure to early life stress and later negative outcomes.

Download the report here

Professor Trevor Spratt

For further information please contact Professor Trevor Spratt


First 5 Launch at the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, 19th November 2018 - Professor Imelda Coyne, Professor of Children’s Nursing & Co-Director of Trinity Research in Childhood Centre

Photo of Prof Imelda Coyne at the First 5 Launch

It was an honour and privilege to have led the consultation with young children for the First 5 Strategy which will have a significant impact on children and families lives for the next decade and beyond.

Over the last decade there has been a huge increase in research with children about matters that affect their lives, with Ireland frequently leading the way compared to other countries. I would like to congratulate Minister Zappone and her team for their commitment to consulting with children directly and promoting the voice of children in all matters that affect their lives.

We all know that the first five years of a child’s lives has a huge impact on their health and wellbeing right into adulthood. With more research, we are learning how many diseases and psychosocial problems in adulthood originate in childhood. We established the Trinity Research in Childhood Centre, to ensure that children’s voices are central to all research concerning children, and that we have whole-of-university approach (ensuring efforts of many talented researchers are combined) as problems affecting children are whole-of-society. It is critical that we see children as beings rather than becomings. So their needs matter today not when they are the adults of tomorrow. So I welcome this strategy wholeheartedly.

Over many years I have learned that very young children can articulate what’s important to them provided you create a comfortable safe environment and use a variety of child-centred research methods. Using a combination of puppets, drawings, talk and tell, we obtained the views of children aged 3- 5 years to inform the strategy.

We learned from the children that their home and family relationships were central in their lives. Being with and doing activities with parents, siblings, and grandparents were very important to them. Relationships were important so the new model of parenting support is to be welcomed.

Children wanted more time with their parents and in particular their fathers. They disliked when parents were cross or unable to spend time with them so the new parental leave scheme will make a big difference to children.

Play and access to playgrounds and nature was really important to them. They disliked inactivity, and lack of access to play activities and playgrounds. They wanted more places to play, more space, better playground facilities, and more time for play. They disliked adverse weather as it could prevent play. So the emphasis in the strategy on high quality play based early learning care will be appreciated.

They were very aware of their environment, appreciated nature and animals, and disliked the harmful aspects such as pylons, traffic and loud noises. They disliked getting homework so supporting transition to primary care is important and included in the strategy.

I would like to thank Minister Zappone, Dr Anne-Marie Brooks - the Principal Officer and Chair of the Early Years Policies and Programmes, Bernie McNally - Assistant Secretary of the National Childhood Network, the Children’s Participation Unit, the early years specialists, the teachers and the children.

Download the Report on the National Consultation with Young Children

Download the First 5 Strategy 2019-2028

Watch the full launch here:

Professor Imelda Coyne

For further information please contact Professor Imelda Coyne


Article by Pablo Gracia, Assistant Professor, Trinity College Dublin School of Sociology and Joan García-Román, University of Barcelona Centre for Demographic Studies, published in European Sociological Review

Photo of a boy looking at a smart phone

Do children increase their screen time and study less when parents work evenings? Spanish data suggest 'yes', but only among children with less-educated mothers.

Interaction effects with Spanish time-diary data illustrate well the heterogeneous impact of mothers' evening work on children's developmental activities. Interestingly, differences by fathers' work schedules in children's time use are trivial, while there are no meaningful educational differences in this regard. Yet, we find a a robust 'weekend reverse' (a partly compensatory pattern): On Saturdays and Sundays, children with evening-working mothers spend about 30 daily minutes more in educational & socialising time with parents, compared to children with mothers working standard hours.

Gracia, P. & García-Román, J. (2018) Child and Adolescent Developmental Activities and Time Use in Spain: The Gendered Role of Parents’ Work Schedules and Education Levels. European Sociological Review, jcy029,

Assistant Professor Pablo Gracia

Contact Assistant Professor Pablo Gracia for more information on his research


Article by Assistant Professor Olive Healy and colleagues, Trinity School of Psychology, published in Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The study entitled “An Analysis of Reading Abilities in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders” examined the reading performance of a nationally representative sample of 110 children and highlights the severe deficits present in this population with regard to core reading components.

Photo of a girl reading and the journal

Many participants performed within the lowest possible range on standardized tests (standard score ≤55), in particular with regard to comprehension (82%) and phonemic awareness (62%). Autism symptomatology severity was found to be predictive of language scores suggesting that individuals presenting with more severe symptoms of autism demonstrated the most reading deficits.

Nally, A., Healy, O., Holloway, J., & Lydon, H. (2018). An Analysis of Reading Abilities in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Read the Article

Professor Olive Healy

Contact Assistant Professor Olive Healy for more information on her research


Snapshot: EU Commission Horizon 2020 project

Exploring care interfaces for children with complex needs across Europe: School of Nursing and Midwifery

Photo of the MOCHA WP2 group in Dublin

Dr Maria Brenner, Associate Professor in Children’s Nursing, leads an international team of researchers exploring the care of children with complex needs at the acute community interface across the EU/EEA. This is part of a three and a half year, €6.8m programme, Models of Child Health Appraised (MOCHA), funded by the EU Commission Horizon 2020 programme. TCD is the second largest partner in this programme of research and the research team comprises paediatricians, nurse academics, social care experts, qualitative methodologists and statisticians.

Collectively the team are investigating the acute/community care interface for children with complex physical health needs and children with enduring mental health care needs across the following areas: pathways of referral and discharge; current management of complex care needs; links with social care; nursing training and education; and family experiences. Comparative work arising from this is ongoing with colleagues in Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard University and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Melbourne.

The team have delivered four substantial reports to the EU Commission to date, focusing on core principles of access to care, co-creation of care, and strengthening governance. Reports are available on the publications page of the MOCHA website. Ongoing dissemination includes invited lectures, peer-reviewed papers, workshops and conference presentations. The project concludes in November 2018.

Dr Maria Brenner

For further information please contact Dr Maria Brenner


Snapshot: Trinity Research impacting Programming in Schools

Language Explorers

Photo related to the Language Explorers programme

Francesca La Morgia from the Department of Clinical Speech and Language Studies developed a programme for primary schools designed to promote an interest in languages from an early age and to raise awareness of linguistic diversity in the classroom and in the community.

The programme, called Language Explorers, was first piloted in an inner city school, and it was very well received by children and their families. It increased the children's awareness of sounds from different languages, and it also allowed children who use a foreign language at home to practice it in school and through homework.

Assistant Professor Francesca La Morgia

You can follow updates on the programme on Twitter @FraLaMorgia , #LanguageExplorers or on the website

Snapshot: Trinity research reaching young people and families through Online Information and Education Programmes

Stepping Up Support for Young People with Chronic Illnesses: Ireland’s first website to help young people move from child to adult care services

Photo from the SteppingUP launch

Developed by Professor Imelda Coyne and a team of researchers in Trinity College Dublin’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, in partnership with young people with long-term illnesses, such as cystic fibrosis, Type 1 diabetes and congenital heart disease, offers video testimonials, downloadable stories and tips and information on managing the transition, becoming more independent, knowing about medications and the differences between child and adult services.

Findings from a major research project being conducted at the School of Nursing and Midwifery have shown that young people with long-term illnesses, need better support and preparation to make a successful and positive transition from accessing health supports in a children’s hospital environment to an adult health system.

Professor Imelda Coyne, lead researcher for the project and Professor in Children’s Nursing at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Trinity College Dublin said: “At the moment in Ireland, there is very little information available to young people and their families on the transition process. This website is the first of its kind and we hope that it will be useful for young people who are thinking about and planning to make the transition to adult services, as we know from our research that the move can be difficult for some. is one way of helping equip young people with knowledge and skills so that the move to adult services is made a bit easier.”

Read the full press release

Professor Imelda Coyne

Contact Professor Imelda Coyne for more information on the project

Contact a free online education programme for families of transgender young people.

Gender Ed steps is a free online information resource and education programme for families of gender variant children and transgender young people in the Republic of Ireland.

The website was developed as part of Danika Sharek's PhD research at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, under the supervision and support of Dr Edward McCann and Sylvia Huntley-Moore. Information and education-seeking has been identified as a positive action for families, helping them in acceptance and support of a trans family member. Such acceptance and support has been associated with more positive health outcomes for these young people. facilitates this interaction.

Danika Sharek

Danika Sharek is a social researcher with a focus on gender and sexuality issues, mental health, and family education. Prior to her Ph.D. at the School of Nursing and Midwifery in Trinity College Dublin, she acquired an M.Sc. in Applied Social Research from Trinity College Dublin and a B.A. in in Sociology from Boston College. Danika moved to Dublin in 2008 from the United States and has since become an Irish citizen. Currently working as a Postdoctoral Researcher at Genio (, Danika looks forward to her PhD Commencement in December 2018.


Snapshot: International Multidisciplinary Research

Challenges facing girls with disabilities in West Africa

Reasons why girls with disabilities were not registered in schools in Togo West Africa in the same numbers as disabled boys and barriers to education faced by girls with disabilities in Guinea have been the focus of studies by a team of researchers from Trinity.

The research was commissioned by PLAN International and led by Professor Carol Newman (Economics), with Professor Robbie Gilligan and Professor Trevor Spratt (Social Work and Social Policy), Dr Rachel Hoare (French) and Dr Mairead Finn (Psychology) comprising the research team.

We spent time in both countries, interviewing children and families, local community representatives, Government officials, leaders of NGOs and recruiting and training local researchers to undertake further fieldwork.

We found that girls in Africa face particular challenges emanating from an amalgam of gender discrimination, poverty and lack of specific services designed to meet the needs of girls with disabilities. While such challenges exist, there was also significant evidence of cultural adaptation in line with a growing concern for human rights and the maximisation of human potential irrespective of gender or ability.

The project demonstrates the need for research teams to represent a range of skills and disciplines in order to study and address complex research problems, wherein both casual factors and proposed solutions are multi factorial in nature.

Professor Carol Newman

Find out more about the project from research study leader, Professor Carol Newman