Current PhDs

Title: Experiences of Pregnancy with a Major Fetal Anomaly

PhD Candidate: Stacey Power

Supervisors: Dr Keelin O’Donoghue (Pregnancy Loss Research Group, INFANT) and Dr Sarah Meaney (NPEC)




Stacey’s PhD explores ‘Experiences of Pregnancy with a Major Fetal Anomaly’. The primary focus of her research is to establish the numbers of pregnancies diagnosed with a major fatal fetal anomaly and to explore experiences of healthcare professionals and voluntary organisations who provide care and support to parents following such diagnoses and pregnancy loss.

As a part of her PhD, Stacey carried out an assessment of the general public’s knowledge of fatal fetal anomaly, perinatal palliative care and termination of pregnancy for fatal fetal anomaly. Stacey conducted a critical discourse analysis to examine how information on fatal fetal anomaly, perinatal palliative care and termination of pregnancy for fatal fetal anomaly was delivered in Irish published media. Both these studies were conducted around the time of the Referendum repealing the eighth amendment.

Stacey also undertook a Delphi survey to explore voluntary organisations education priorities which contributed to an education day delivered December 1st 2018.


Peer Reviewed Publications to date:

Power, S. Meaney, S. and O’Donoghue, K. (2018) ‘An assessment of the general public's knowledge of fatal fetal anomalies’. Prenatal Diagnosis, 38(11), pp. 883-890.

Power S, Meaney S, O'Donoghue K. The incidence of fatal foetal anomalies associated with perinatal mortality in Ireland. Prenatal Diagnosis. 2020 Jan 8.



Title: Reducing Stillbirth through Behaviour Change Intervention (RELEVANT)

PhD Candidate: Tamara Escañuela Sánchez

Supervisors: Dr Keelin O’Donoghue (Pregnancy Loss Research Group, INFANT), Dr Sarah Meaney (NPEC) and Prof Molly Byrne (Health Behaviour Change Research Group, NUI Galway)




This Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded project focuses on the modifiable maternal behaviours that have been associated with a higher risk of stillbirth, these being substance abuse, non-compliance with antenatal care schedules and overweight pre and during pregnancy. The aims of this project are to understand these maternal behaviours during pregnancy and identify facilitators and barriers to change these behaviours perceived by pregnant women, in order to develop an evidence-based behaviour change intervention using the COM-B model and the Behaviour Change Wheel.

The Behaviour Change Wheel is a systematic method to design behaviour change intervention and consists in three main stages: understanding and defining the problem in behavioural terms; identifying the intervention options by selecting intervention functions and policy categories; and finally, identifying the intervention content by selecting the most appropriate Behavioural Change Techniques and their mode of delivery.


Peer Reviewed Publications to date:

Sánchez MT, Meaney S, O'Donoghue K. Modifiable risk factors for stillbirth: a literature review. Midwifery. 2019 Sep 24:102539.


Title: Review of audits, local reviews and confidential enquiries into perinatal deaths

PhD Candidate: Änne Helps (July 2018-July 2021, NPEC/INFANT centre UCC)

Supervisors: Dr Keelin O’Donoghue (Pregnancy Loss Research Group, INFANT), Dr Sara Leitao (NPEC), Prof Richard Greene (NPEC),




Änne’s PhD is studying local and national perinatal death audits and review processes in Ireland. Perinatal deaths including intra-partum deaths occur and are devastating for parents, families and all health care professionals involved. Both local and external reviews into these deaths are taking place, but they are not always standardised or structured and therefore essential learning points may be missed. There is now emphasis on improving the review process (e.g. using frameworks and tools) however to date there has been little research carried out on the comparison of different review- and report-types. Last, but not least, the involvement of bereaved parents in the review process is still mostly unexplored. Hence, Änne’s research is looking at current local and national review structures and published reports, as well as studying how parents can be involved in the current processes that is beneficial to both themselves and the reviews. Current projects include an analysis of Irish inquiry reports relating to perinatal deaths and pregnancy loss services (both quantitative and qualitatively), a comparison of current practices in Irish maternity units through a national survey and an assessment of recommendations from both local and national perinatal mortality reports.


Peer Reviewed Publications to Date:

Helps A, Leitao S, O’Byrne L, Greene R, O’Donoghue K. (2019) "Irish inquiry reports relating to perinatal deaths and pregnancy loss services" Ir Med J; Vol 113; No.2; P21

Helps A, Leitao S, Greene R, O’Donoghue K. “Perinatal Mortality Audits and Reviews: Past, Present and the Way Forward” Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol (2020) Published online (DOI: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2020.04.054)

National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre

Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 5th Floor, Cork University Maternity Hospital, Wilton, Cork