Fresh faces in CHErIsH!

Lots of changes and new updates for the CHErIsH study team over the last while! Our wonderful CHErIsH post-docs Dr Michelle Queally and Dr Karen Matvienko-Sikar have both taken up new positions and will continue to work on CHErIsH in an advisory capacity. Michelle has started a post-doctoral research position with CÚRAM, the Centre for Research in Medical Devices working on recruitment to clinical trials, while Karen will be starting her HRB Applying Research into Policy and Practice fellowship in January 2019! We wish them both the best of luck in their new endeavours and will be looking forward to hearing their updates!
Coming onto the CHErIsH team, we are delighted to welcome Dr Kate O’Neill and Dr Caragh Flannery! Kate has a background in Public Health and Health Promotion, Epidemiology and Health Economics, and will join us to work with Michelle on our health economics evaluation. Kate recently passed her viva under the supervision of Prof Patricia Kearney and Dr Sheena McHugh in UCC. Kate’s PhD, which focused on the cost of diabetes in Ireland in 2013. Caragh recently passed her viva under the supervision of Prof Molly Byrne in NUI Galway. Caragh was part of the HRB SPHeRE PhD programme in Population Health and Health Service Research and her PhD focused on health behaviour change in the area of pregnancy and gestational diabetes.
We are so thrilled to have such a growing team with fantastic expertise. CHErIsH is currently in the third phase of development and will be starting to explore the feasibility of the intervention with our partners in the Mallow Primary Healthcare Centre in the upcoming months. Watch this space for more project updates coming soon! 🙂

CHErIsH researcher delivers webinar for Primary Care Trials Network Ireland


Dr Elaine Toomey delivered the first webinar of the Autumn 2018 series for the Primary Care Trials Network Ireland (PCTNI). The HRB Primary Care Clinical Trials Network Ireland is a collaborative partnership that brings together key people in Ireland to run clinical trials in primary care, that is, through general practices or primary care centres and in the community. Dr Toomey gave a webinar on the current progress of the CHErIsH study entitled “The Choosing Healthy Eating for Infant Health (CHErIsH) Study“. The talk focused on childhood obesity in Ireland, the role of infant feeding behaviours in childhood obesity, current infant feeding best practice recommendations and guidance, and an update on the Choosing Healthy Eating for Infant study and how primary care practitioners can get involved.

To watch the webinar, click here! Image 2

Research snapshot of review of fidelity of infant feeding interventions

Our review of fidelity of trials of infant feeding interventions was published in February in Annals of Behavioral Medicine – available here.

Our study found that the moderate use and/or reporting of strategies to improve and assess fidelity within trials of infant feeding interventions suggests that previous findings of inconsistent effectiveness may not fully reflect the intended interventions.

This research snapshot was created by Rebekah Roy, a HRB Trials Methodology Research Network summer student working with Dr Elaine Toomey over the summer, in an attempt to make our study more accessible and informative!

Research Snapshot_ 1 page A4research snapshot

CHErIsH researcher wins award for obesity research

AMM-180125-7136CHErIsH post-doctoral researcher, Dr Elaine Toomey was recently awarded the ‘Irish Canadian University Foundation James M Flaherty Early Career Researcher Award’. Dr Toomey received the award to conduct further research on the adaptation of ‘Football Fans in Training’ (FFIT), an effective health behaviour change intervention developed by Prof Kate Hunt, Prof Sally Wyke and Dr Cindy Gray that used Scottish professional football clubs to engage with overweight and obese men. The ‘Hockey Fit’ intervention was recently developed by Dr Rob Petrella and Dr Dawn Gill in Western University, Ontario to adapt the FFIT project to ice-hockey, within a Canadian context.

Elaine’s award will enable her to visit Western University and explore the Canadian ‘Hockey Fit’ intervention with a specific focus on how FFIT components were adapted to suit a different sporting and cultural context, and inform how this might be used in an Irish context. Dr Toomey will also spend time in the Centre for Implementation Research in the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute to maximise how knowledge from her visit to Western University can be used to inform adaptation and translation into an Irish setting, using a structured and theory-based approach.

Elaine was interviewed on Thursday 15th February about this award and also about the work of the CHErIsH study on the ‘Limerick Today’ programme on Limerick’s Live 95fm. Radio host Joe Nash, was particularly interested in the work of the CHErIsH study into how infant feeding behaviours could be changed to prevent childhood obesity. Listen back to the interview podcast here!


We need you! Get involved with CHErIsH!

Work has recently gotten underway on the next stage of our project, to get you, parents, mothers and fathers, aunts, uncles and grandparents of children involved with us in our research! We want to create an energetic partnership between you and Team CHErIsH so that the infant feeding insights, views and experiences of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles will guide the development of our research, influence the planning and delivery of infant feeding support services in ways that are accessible and meaningful to the public.

This is called PPI, or public and patient involvement, and tries to make sure our research is relevant and beneficial to patient and public needs. As such it is a really important part of our project. We have recently created a dedicated page to our PPI – If you, or anyone you know, would like to help out (even in a small way) please get in touch using our contact page!


This part of our project is being led by CHErIsH researcher Dr. Michelle Queally.

For more information on how to get involved please click the link to our PPI page:

CHErIsH get planning!

CHErIsH team members recently took part in a two-day event organised by CHErIsH postdoctoral fellow Dr. Elaine Toomey to develop the CHErIsH process evaluation. Dr. Toomey secured funding from the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS) to host a one-day training workshop in process evaluations in the National University of Ireland Galway. BITSS aims to enhance the practices of economists, psychologists, political scientists, and other social scientists in ways that promote research transparency, reproducibility, and openness.

PE course
Signage in the workshop venue

The first day of the workshop was facilitated by Dr Rhiannon Evans and Dr Graham Moore from the Centre for Development and Evaluation of Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer) and was open to researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and students from a broad variety of backgrounds. Specifically, this workshop aimed to facilitate world-class training in Ireland on how to conduct a process evaluation of a complex intervention. Process evaluations focus on understanding how and why an intervention (e.g. treatment or programme or specific approach) succeeds or fails and assesses any variation in terms of how it is put into practice. It is crucial for enhancing the development, conduct and reporting of intervention evaluations in psychology, public health and social science settings. For read more on the content of the day one workshop, click here to read Dr Toomey’s BITSS blog.

The second day was a closed session (funded by the Health Research Board CHErIsH project budget) specifically for the CHErIsH study team to focus on planning the process evaluation for the CHErIsH project. Nine members of the study team were present (with one virtually present via Skype!) for the half-day session facilitated by Dr Evans. First, Dr Evans provided a brief summary and refresher of the previous day’s content. This summary focused on the role of process evaluations in developing and evaluating complex interventions as well as the role of intervention theory and development of a logic model (visual depiction of the intervention and its hypotheses). Finally, Dr. Evans concluded by discussing how to recognize key process evaluation components and identify their strengths and limitations.

PE course Day 2 Cherish
CHErIsH team members with Dr Rhiannon Evans from DECIPHer
L-R: Dr Jenny McSharry, Prof Molly Byrne, Dr Michelle Queally, Dr Elaine Toomey, Dr Rhiannon Evans, Dr Sheena McHugh, Ms Marita Hennessy, Dr Colette Kelly, Dr Caroline Heary

After coffee, CHErIsH postdoctoral fellow Dr Michelle Queally provided an overview on the CHErIsH project and an update of progress to date. This presentation nicely facilitated the next stage of practical group-work which aimed to look at applying the process evaluation literature and knowledge specifically to the CHErIsH project. In two separate groups, the study team discussed potential areas for consideration  for the project, in terms of determinants (or influences) of behaviour and how this could be changed for both healthcare providers working in primary care, as well as for parents of young infants. The team also discussed ‘dark logic’ models or potential, unintended, adverse effects of an approach to improve infant feeding in primary care – such as having reduced time for other important aspects of infant health.

Overall, it was felt that this was a hugely useful event which consolidated general knowledge regarding process evaluations with a specific emphasis on its application for the CHErIsH project. Thoughts, outcomes and final considerations from this day will be further discussed at the upcoming CHErIsH team meeting!

The workshop reading list, full agenda details and workshop evaluations are available on The one-day workshop was funded by the Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences (BITSS) and the John Templeton Foundation. For more information, please visit, sign up for the BITSS blog, and follow BITSS on Twitter @UCBITSS. The second day closed event was funded by the CHErIsH project budget HRB-ICE-2015-1026.