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 at European Health Psychology Society conference 2017

CHErIsH post doc Karen Matvienko-Sikar recently presented CHErIsH research at the 2017 European Health Psychology Society Conference in Italy. The conference took place from August 29th to September 2nd in the beautiful city of Padova. Karen presented the overall CHErIsH project in the first poster session on Tuesday 29th, to much interest and discussion.

posterKaren Matvienko-Sikar (left) & Elaine Toomey (right)

On Saturday September 2nd, Karen presented the results of her qualitative evidence synthesis on parental experiences and perceptions of infant complementary feeding.


This work was presented as part of a symposium titled: Maximising the value of qualitative methods in the development and evaluation of behavior change interventions. The symposium was chaired by fellow CHErIsH post doc Elaine Toomey and CHErIsH collaborator Dr Jenny McSharry. Dr McSharry, Dr Molly Byrne, and Marita Hennessy, who are all involved in the CHErIsH project also presented and facilitated activities on the day.

symposiumL-R: Dr Annegret Schneider, Prof Val Morrison, Dr Karen Matvienko-Sikar, Dr Molly Byrne, Dr Jenny McSharry, Marita Hennessy

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.


Study from CHErIsH researcher makes the news!

michelle image
Dr Michelle Queally, CHErIsH postdoctoral researcher

A recently published study led by CHErIsH post-doctoral researcher Dr. Michelle Queally was the subject of some deserved media attention lately. Michelle’s publication entitled “Low expectations: Do teachers underestimate the ability of overweight children or the children of overweight mothers?” showed that the body mass index (BMI) of a child’s mother may influence a teacher’s perception of that child’s academic ability.

The study was a joint project between NUI Galway and Queen’s University Belfast and show that obesity should not be looked at solely as a health issue but rather one that may have much broader economic implications.

The study notes that the potential for a mother’s weight status, to influence teachers’ perceptions of their children’s ability, could have long-term consequences when it comes to the child’s educational outcome. This is because of the teacher’s role in marking examinations. However, Michelle and her team emphasised that the findings cannot be taken as “definitive proof” that teachers stereotype children based on an assessment of their mother’s BMI.

Media articles on the study can be found here:

CHErIsH goes to Canada!

Several members of the CHErIsH study team recently visited Canada on a number of different research trips, spreading the word about the CHErIsH and other research projects and bringing international knowledge home.

Dr Elaine Toomey, CHErIsH postdoc, spent 6 weeks at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) in Ontario, Canada as a Visiting Scientist. Dr Toomey received funding through her HRB ICE postdoctoral fellowship to conduct an international placement at the OHRI, facilitated by Dr Justin Presseau, a Scientist in the OHRI Clinical Epidemiology Program and Assistant Professor in the School of Epidemiology, Public Health and Preventive Medicine in the University of Ottawa. Dr Presseau and scientists at the OHRI are internationally recognized for their methodological expertise and contributions to implementation science and knowledge translation, particularly within the area of health behaviour change research. As part of this placement, Dr Toomey met with a number of internationally renowned scientists in the area including Professor Jeremy Grimshaw, Dr David Moher, and Professor Dawn Stacey to name but a few of these excellent Canadian researchers.

Dr Toomey later presented the results of a recent CHErIsH review at the Knowledge Translation Canada (KT Canada) scientific meeting in Quebec City. This review looked at the ‘fidelity’ (or faithfulness) with which previous interventions to promote healthy infant feeding practices have been conducted as intended. Also in attendance at this meeting was CHErIsH senior team member Dr Molly Byrne, who has been in Canada on a 10-week Flaherty Visiting Professorship Research Visit to Montreal, Ottawa and Halifax.

Dr Elaine Toomey and Dr Molly Byrne presenting CHErIsH work at the KT Canada annual scientific meeting

CHErIsH was also well represented at the Global Implementation Conference, held in Toronto on June 19-21. Dr Sheena McHugh, Dr Catherine HayesDr Jenny McSharry and Dr Elaine Toomey attended this large international conference, and presented on a wide range of ongoing research projects. The conference also presented an excellent opportunity for networking between CHErIsH researchers and leaders of the ongoing HSE Nurture programme for infant health and wellbeing.

CHErIsH member Dr Sheena McHugh presenting at the Global Implementation Conference, Toronto