Dr Rebecca Dennehy, UCC 2014
Cyberbullying and Young People: Behaviours, Experiences and Resolutions
Institution: School of Public Health, UCC
Supervisors: Professor Ella Arensman, National Suicide Research Foundation, Ms Mary Cronin, School of Public Health, UCC and Dr Sarah Meaney, National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre, UCC
Cyberbullying is a complex and multifaceted public health issue among young people. Research indicates deleterious effect on the mental health and wellbeing of victims which warrants action to address this issue. Adults do not have first-hand experience of cyberbullying in their youth and so the development of prevention and intervention strategies can benefit from the engagement of young people’s perspectives. However, young people’s voices are largely absent from the current discourse. This thesis aims to explore the nature, causes, and consequences of cyberbullying from the perspective of young people with a view to informing the development of evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies.
The research was framed by the Medical Research Council guidelines for intervention development. Qualitative and participatory research methods were employed. In the first instance a systematic review and meta-ethnographic synthesis of qualitative studies related to young people’s conceptualisations of cyberbullying was conducted. Secondly, a rights-based model was developed to facilitate the active involvement of young people in the research process. A Young Person’s Advisory Group was purposefully formed to collaborate in the design, conduct, and interpretation of a qualitative study of young people’s perspectives on cyberbullying as well as in priority setting for intervention development. Young People’s involvement in the Advisory Group was evaluated to determine the effectiveness off the model in facilitating young people’s participation in the research process and the acceptability of the approach. The co-designed qualitative study comprised focus groups with secondary school students which were conducted in the school setting. Data were analysed thematically.
The meta-ethnography highlighted that the fundamental role of cyber technology in young people’s lives and the complexity and ambiguity of the cyber world in which they connect are inherent to young people’s conceptualisations of cyberbullying. The participatory evaluation
of young people’s involvement in the research process indicated that the elements necessary for the effective realisation of young people’s participation rights were present in this study. Based on their interpretation of preliminary findings from the qualitative study, Advisory Group Members identified the non-consensual distribution of nude images and the mental health impact of cybervictimisation as serious concerns for young people and priorities for intervention development. Findings indicate that non-consensual distribution involves a complex process that is produced by, and reinforces, gender power dynamics. Young males, under pressure to conform to societal constructs of masculinity, coerce females to send explicit images which are screenshot and intentionally distributed, without consent, to male peers in exchange for social kudos. Regarding the mental health impact, cyberbullying was described as more psychological in nature and impact than traditional bullying with increased deleterious effect on the mental health and wellbeing of victims. Analysis identified several barriers which prevent victims from seeking social support and participants’ perception that suicide is a viable escape route for young victims defeated and entrapped by cybervictimisation.
This research makes a valuable contribution to the existing knowledge base in that it privileges youth voice on the nature, causes, and consequences of the phenomenon and highlights young people’s priorities regarding intervention development. In response to research findings and suggestions from the Young Person’s Advisory Group several recommendations, which are grounded in young people’s experiences, values, and norms, are made in relation to research, policy, and practice.
Dr. Ailbhe Spillane, UCC 2014
The impact of suicidal behaviour on family members in Ireland: a mixed methods study
Institution: UCC, 2014 cohort
Supervisors: Prof. Ella Arensman (UCC), Dr. Paul Corcoran (UCC), Dr. Karen Matvienko-Sikar (UCC)
Background: Suicidal behaviour is a complex and multifaceted problem encompassing individual, social and environmental components. There is a plethora of studies examining the adverse psychological health effects of suicide bereavement, but high quality research in this area is still limited. However, the physical health consequences of both suicide and self-harm on family members is lacking. There is also a paucity of research exploring the specific support needs of people bereaved by suicide and people experiencing a family member’s self-harm, regardless of severity, both in the short and long-term.
Methods: This doctoral work adopted a mixed methods approach and comprised four studies. Study 1 was a systematic review of the physical and psychosomatic health outcomes of family members bereaved by suicide. Study 2 (Inc. a published protocol) was a mixed methods examination of the physical and psychological health outcomes of family members bereaved by suicide that was conducted using qualitative interviews and quantitative scaled data. Study 3 was a qualitative study exploring how suicide-bereaved family members experienced the inquest process. Study 4 was a qualitative examination of individuals’ experiences of a family member’s high-risk self-harm.
Results: The systematic review found tentative evidence that suicide-bereaved family members have an increased risk of a number of adverse physical health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and hypertension, compared to people bereaved by non-suicide deaths. The qualitative component of the mixed methods study indicated that intense grief reactions, including guilt, blame, anger and shame manifested in exacerbating and prolonging physical, psychological and psychosomatic difficulties. The quantitative component of the mixed methods study demonstrated that suicide-bereaved family members have elevated depression, anxiety and stress levels. The qualitative study exploring the impact of the inquest process identified a number of distressing and challenging aspects for family members, including the timing and setting of the inquest and hearing graphic evidence about their own family member and that of other people who died by suicide. Finally, the qualitative study exploring experiences after a family member’s high-risk self-harm indicated that the health impacts of experiencing multiple high-risk self-harm acts is particularly marked compared to experiencing a single self-harm act.
Conclusion: The doctoral work presented in this thesis is innovative in examining the impact of a family member’s fatal or non-fatal suicidal behaviour from multiple research methods. The health impact of family members experiencing fatal or non-fatal suicidal behaviour are broadly similar and require proactive facilitation of support by clinicians. The inquest process was often viewed as distressing by suicide-bereaved family members. The support needs of people experiencing a family member’s suicide or high-risk self-harm are similar and both groups would benefit from a model of proactive facilitation of support by clinicians and other health professionals.
Dr. Kieran Walsh, UCC 2014
Rationalising antipsychotic prescribing in dementia: a mixed-methods investigation
Institution: UCC, 2014 cohort
Supervisors: Dr. Suzanne Timmons (UCC), Prof. Stephen Byrne (UCC), Prof. John Browne (UCC), Dr. Jennifer McSharry (NUIG)
Dr. Caragh Flannery, UCC 2014
Developing a behavior change intervention for physical activity during pregnancy
Institution: NUIG, 2014 cohort
Supervisors: Prof. Molly Byrne (NUIG), Prof. Patricia Kearney (UCC) , Prof. Fionnuala McAuliffe (UCD)
Dr. Amelia Smith, TCD 2014
Epidemiological studies in breast cancer: the association of commonly used medicines and specific biomarkers with patient outcomes
Supervisors: Prof. Kathleen Bennett (TCD), Dr. Ian Barron (TCD), Laura Murphy
*not available yet*
Dr. Alan Maddock, MU 2014
A mixed methods study examining individual differences in well-being and symptom reduction, and the effectiveness of mindfulness based interventions in psoriasis patient treatment through the lens of the Buddhist Psychological Model (BPM)
Institution: TCD, 2014 cohort
Supervisors: Prof. David Hevey (TCD), Dr. Paul D’Alton (St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin)
*not available yet*