Maternal and Child Health

Research Team

Research Leader:

Dr. Patricia Leahy-Warren,


  • Ms Valerie Dennehy, Clinical Midwifery Manager CUMH

Aims & Objectives


The aim of the Maternal and Child research team within the SoN&M is to lead and collaborate in developing multidisciplinary research. The purpose of our research is to support women, children, fathers and families throughout the perinatal period from preconception to the early years of a child’s life in diverse social community settings.

Specific Objectives:

  1. To Improve the Health and Wellbeing of Women, men, children and their families
  2. To engage in research which reflects international and national policy ensuring research projects positively influence public health priorities.
  3. Promote research areas of expertise of team members and attract Post Graduate students to study in these areas to build research capacity in specific contexts to provide evidence based knowledge that will influence policy and practice..
  4. To provide an opportunity for collaborative multidisciplinary research reflecting complexity of care for families in the community, ensuring excellence in evidence base translational health outcomes.
  5. To conduct research that will influence and promote better health for women, men, children, mother/father infant dyads and families..
  6. To advance nursing and midwifery knowledge and expertise that contributes to international clinical best practice
  7. To work in a co-operative manner with Health Service Providers to provide empirical data to guide the care and support of women, new mothers, fathers and families, through all stages of the perinatal period.

Research Interests

The M&CH research team are qualified research experienced nurses, midwives, and public health nurses committed to improving the bio-psychosocial health of women, mothers, fathers and their children. The context of the research reflects the diverse clinical care settings from hospital wards, out research community clinics, primary care centres to people’s own homes. Research areas of expertise include: midwifery led care, public health nursing care, first-time mothers, parental concerns, parental/infant attachment, nurse/client relationships; working with vulnerable families; social support, the experience of pregnancy after pregnancy loss, maternal parental self-efficacy, postnatal depression, tocophobia, infant feeding including breastfeeding, social support, teenage pregnancy, kangaroo care, preterm parenting, and many others.

Research Students

Current Research Students and Projects

Ms F. Hunt; MSc (research) ‘Experiences of Breastfeeding from the Perspectives of Breastfeeding

Mother/Maternal Grandmother Dyads: An Irish Study’

Ms A. Aher; MSc (Research); ‘Exploring Decision-Making in Teenage Pregnancy’

Ms. M Murphy; Doctorate; ‘Couple’s Experiences of Hope in Subsequent Pregnancy after Stillbirth’

Mr L. Philpott; PhD; ‘Paternal Postnatal Depression in Fathers’

Ms M. O’Connell; PhD; ‘A Randomised Clinical Trial of a Brief Psycho-Educative Counselling Intervention for The Treatment Of Tocophobia In Ireland’

Ms. H. Smith; PhD ‘Early Infant Feeding, Growth and Development at 2 Years’

Ms N. Pandit; Doctorate; ‘Resilience post infant death’



Team members collaborate at different levels including local, national and international contexts. Locally we are collaborating with colleagues in developing and undertaking research projects across mutual concepts of interest in different contexts:

  • The ISS21 (children and young people cluster) which is an interdisciplinary research institute of a number of Colleges within UCC (Dr Liz Kiley)
  • The Technology Enhanced Learning for Health or ‘TEL for Health’ Initiatives Research Group (Mr Mark Corrigan)
  • Health Information Systems Research Centre (HISRC) (Dr C. Heavin & Dr. S Woodworth)
  • Joint PhD supervision of students engaged in M&CH research with Departments of Paediatrics and Child Health (Dr D. Murray) and Obstetrics and Gynaecology Prof L. Kenny) respectively
  • Co-applicant on the HRB Clinical Trials Network with Professor Geraldine Boylan (INFANT UCC CUMH), Professor Louise Kenny (INFANT UCC CUMH), and Dr Keelin O Donoghue (UCC CUMH)
  • Team member of the Pregnancy Loss and Bereavement Research Group, Cork University Maternity Hospital
  • National Perinatal Epidemiology Centre research grant application multidisciplinary team with Dr P. Corcoran, Professor Andrew Murphy, Prof. P. Kearney, Dr A. Khashan, Dr B. McElroy.     


Our team members are engaged nationally with research projects with key stakeholders, other university colleagues and professional organisations which include:

  • School of Nursing & Midwifery, University College Dublin (Dr A. Phelan)
  • NUIG, multidisciplinary research grant application with Dr Akke Vellinga, Professor Declan Devane, Dr Christine Domegan, Dr Ronan McDonnell
  • Chair of the Institute of Community Health Nursing ICHN Research Implementation Group
  • Founder member of the Midwives Association of Ireland
  • Current chairperson of the Midwives Section of the INMO
  • Children’s’ Research Network of Ireland 


  • Delegate member at triennial Council meetings of the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) and regional meetings of the Central European Region (CER) of the ICM
  • Fellow of the European Academy of Nursing Science
  • Visiting Professor of Public Health Nursing at Diakonova School of Nursing, Oslo, Norway
  • Research collaborations with colleagues at Harstad University College, and  University of Tromsø,  Norway (Dr A. Clancy)
  • Research collaborations with colleagues at Queens University (Prof F. Alderdice)  and Newcastle University (Dr J. Newsham) UK
  • Collaborations with colleague at Manchester University (Dr. C. Bradbury Jones)
  • Research grant application of a complex intervention cluster RCT for HRB RGA 2015 with 4 National Directors of Public Health Nursing, Prof P. Kearney, (UCC) Dr P Corcoran,(NPEC) Prof S Chen (Singapore), Prof C. Fowler (Sydney), Prof K Glavin (Oslo)
  • Two of our team are on the management committee of the European Corporation in Science and Technology (COST) Action IS1405 ‘Building Intrapartum Research Through Health - an interdisciplinary whole system approach to understanding and contextualising physiological labour and birth (BIRTH)’
  • Research grant application with a consortium of European multidisciplinary colleagues on childhood obesity.


Outreach Activities

In addition to the above collaborations, outreach activities of team members also include voluntary participation and engagement with a national counselling support organisation for mothers and fathers experiencing stress and depression in the postnatal period called NURTURE.

One team member manages the School’s midwifery twitter account to communicate and engage with the midwifery fraternity worldwide on evidence based practice.

Team members involved in organising local, national and international conferences promoting excellence in translation research

One of our team was elected President of the Association of Lactation Consultants in Ireland promoting research based evidence

Team members also engage with, support band promote public health national initiatives such as breastfeeding, men’s health, bereavement

One team member participated in the COST Action: IS0907 Childbirth Cultures, Concerns, and Consequences: Creating a dynamic EU framework for optimal maternity care.

External Engagement

In addition to the above, team members have also provided expert reports to inform legal cases regarding and child health and development issues in the community.

As an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, one of our teams provided support to breastfeeding mothers in the community

Trans-disciplinary interaction:

Transdisciplinary Research is defined as research efforts conducted by investigators from different disciplines working jointly to create new conceptual, theoretical, methodological, and

translational innovations that integrate and move beyond discipline-specific approaches to address a common problem. Collaborations outlined above are with a considerable number of

different disciplines such as: epidemiologists, nutritionists, paediatricians, sociologists, obstetricians, gynaecologists

Research Grants


Research Grant Applications

HRB Health Research Awards January 2015, Jan 2015 €440,000.00

Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement (ICE) Awards 2015, Nov 2014 € 520,254.00

Interdisciplinary Capacity Enhancement (ICE) Awards 2015, Nov 2014 €712,762.00

HORIZON 2020 WORK PROGRAMME 2014 – 20158. Health,

demographic change and wellbeing Revised European Consortium,

September 2014 €746,432

Health Research Board Summer Cochrane Fellowship Awards 2013 €111860.70

Wellbeing of Women PhD Research Grant February 2013 €13,300.00

Health Research Board Research Fellowships November 2012 €247295.00

UCC Strategic Research Fund- PhD Studentships June 2012 €15,000.00

Research Grants Awarded

Start Date Duration (months) Amount Title Funding Body
08/09/2014 12 €7,428 iOS software development skills for further development of a mobile application for child health information tracking app CHeITA, UCC Research Strategic Fund
01/06/2014 2 €2,000 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE). College of Medicine & Health
01/01/2014 12 €1,050 Child health interventions in primary care across Europe H2020 Proposal Preparation Travel Support
01/09/2013 6 €2,500.00 Research on Health Inequalities and Young People National Youth Council of Ireland
01/06/2013 12 €4,650.00 Building Research Capacity within School UCC Strategic Research Fund
01/01/2013 24   Feeding patterns of Irish infants and the impact on growth, neurodevelopmental outcome and atopic disease National Children’s Research Centre,
01/06/2012 3 €2,000.00 Health Research Board Summer studentship Health Research Board
01/04/2012 12 €4,650.00 Child Health Information Tracking App Milupa/Aptaclub
01/09/2012 12 €3,000.00 Building Research Capacity within School UCC Strategic Research Fund
01/09//12 12 €1,500.00 Continence promotion for women in the community Miller Trust Award
01/06/2011 3 €2,000.00 Health Research Board Summer studentship Health Research Board
01/09/2010 6 €3,000.00 Research project support Institute of Community Health Nursing
01.09/2009 12 €35,000.00 A Review Of Breastfeeding Support Services Provided By Public Health Nurses  
01/01/2006 36 €216,154.00 Nursing & Midwifery Clinical Research Fellowship Health Research Board
01/03/2005 12 € 3,370.00 Research support for PhD Martha McMenamin Fund
01/09/2002 12 €12,697.00   DoH&C Nursing Policy Division
01/09/1999 12 €40,631.00 Research Fellowship for MSc (Research) Health Research Board
01/09/1998 12 €317.00 All- Ireland research grant An Bórd Altranais (Irish Nursing Board)
01/02/1995 12 3174.00 Sponsorship PHN education Southern health Board

Research Publications

  • Leahy-Warren, P. & McCarthy G. (2010) Maternal parental self-efficacy in the postpartum period Midwifery doi:10.1016/j.midw.2010.07.008

  • Leahy-Warren, P. & McCarthy G. (2010) Postnatal Depression in first-time mothers: Prevalence and Relationships between functional and structural social support at 6 and at 12 weeks postpartum Archives of psychiatric Nursing (in press)

  • Leahy-Warren, P. & McCarthy G. (2010) First-Time Mothers: Social Support, Maternal Parental Self-Efficacy and Postnatal Depression Journal of Clinical Nursing (in press)

  • O’Connell, R., Hughes M., and Kilonzo B. (2010) Tackling health literacy World of Irish Nursing 18 (2) 40-41

  • O'Sullivan, C. and O'Connell, R. (2010) Teaching teachers. World of Irish Nursing, 18(6), 46-47

  • Gijbels, H., O’Connell, R., Dalton-O’Connor, C., O’Donovan M.  (2010)  A systematic review evaluating the impact of post-registration nursing and midwifery education on practice  Nurse Education in Practice  10(2), 64-69.

  • Day, MR. McCarthy, G. Leahy-Warren, P. (2009) Professional views on self-neglect: an exploratory study Irish Journal of Medical Science 178, (8) S 286

  • Day, MR. McCarthy, G. Leahy-Warren, P. (2009) Self-neglect: an overview of the literature   Irish Journal of Medical Science 178, (8) S 297

  • Leahy-Warren, Patricia, Mulcahy, Helen & Phelan, Agnes (2009) A Review of Breastfeeding Support Services Provided by Public Health Nurses: A national study In Press for publication by HSE

  • McLoughlin, G and Brady-Nevin, C. (2009) Infertile Couples often forgotten World of Irish Nursing, Vol.17 (2), 38-39

  • Mulcahy, H. and McCarthy, G. (2008) Participatory nurse/client relationships: perceptions of public health nurses and mothers of vulnerable families. Applied Nursing Research 21, 169-172

  • O’Connell, R., Downe, S. (2009) A metasynthesis of midwives’ experience of hospital practice in publicly funded settings: compliance, resistance and authenticity Health  13 (5) 589-609

  • O’Connell, R., (2009) Obstetric surgery for perioperative staff and midwives  Journal of Perioperative Practice 19 (6) 188-191

  • Phelan, A. Bourke, S and Murphy, M (2008) A Review of the Breastfeeding Content in Pre-service and In-service Education Curricula for Health Workers for the Health Service Executive. Unpublished Report UCC/HSE

  • Day, M. R. Leahy-Warren, P. (2008) Guided Learning Portfolio Pages 25th June, 1-7

  • Day, M. R. Leahy-Warren, P. (2008) Self-Neglect 2: Nursing Assessment and Management Nursing Times 104, 25 28-29

  • Day, M. R. Leahy-Warren, P. (2008) Self-Neglect 1: Recognising Features and Risk Factors Nursing Times 104, 24 26-27

  • Day, M. R. Leahy-Warren, P. (2008) Silent Suffering: Guidelines to help and manage cases of self-neglect in the elderly are needed Nursing in The Community 9, 24-25

  • O'Donnell, C., O'Connell, R. (2007) Natural Benefits: Making Breastfeeding Easier World of Irish Nursing 15 (7) 18-19  

  • Buckley, C. & Mulcahy, H. (2006) Community profiling and Health Needs Assessment: A Guide for Public Health Nurses. Cork, NMPDU & School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork

  • Murphy, M. and Sweeney, J. F. (2007) Hand Hygiene Audit: A tool for clinical practice MIDIRS Midwifery Digest 17(1), 123-126.

  • Leahy-Warren, P. (2007) Social Support for First-Time Mothers: An Irish Study MCN, American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing 32 (6), 368-374

  • Leahy-Warren, P. Day, M. R. & Mulcahy, H. (2007) Patient Primacy  Nursing in the Community  8 (3), 8-9

  • Leahy-Warren, P. & McCarthy G. (2007) Postnatal Depression: Prevalence, Mothers’ Perspectives and Treatments Archives of Psychiatric Nursing 21(2), 91-100

  • Mulcahy, H., Leahy-Warren, P. & Day, M. R. (2006) Thumbs up for PHN clinics Nursing in the Community 7(4), 29-30

  • Murphy, M. (2006) First time mothers’ experiences of professional breastfeeding support Association of Lactation Consultants of Ireland Newsletter

  • Leahy-Warren, P. (2005) First-Time Mothers: Social Support and confidence in infant care Journal of Advanced Nursing 50 (5), 479-488

  • Mulcahy, H. (2004) Vulnerable family as understood by public health nurses. Community Practitioner 77 (7), 257-260.

  • Leahy-Warren, P. & McCarthy, G.  (2003) Community Nursing- An International Perspective Report prepared for Nursing & Midwifery Policy Division DOH&C

  • O’Connell, R., Cronin M. (2002). Home Birth in Ireland 1993 - 1997  A review of Community Midwifery Practice  All Ireland Journal of Nursing and Midwifery 2 (2) 41 – 46

  • O’Connell, R (2002) Midwives and Maternity Care in Ireland: Opportunities to move ahead? Midwifery Matters 92:9-10

  • O’Connell, R. Bradfield, L.  (1999) Neonatal Surgery, are operating theatres always necessary?  Journal of Neonatal Nursing.  5 (2): 8-12

  • O’Connell, R.  (1999) Midwifery in Ireland: Recent Trends.  Midwifery Matters (80) 1:  28

School of Nursing and Midwifery

Scoil an Altranais agus an Chnáimhseachais

Brookfield Health Sciences Complex University College Cork Ireland