Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Menu Search

Trinity College Dublin By using this website you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with the Trinity cookie policy. For more information on cookies see our cookie policy.

Profile Photo

Dr. Catherine Darker

Associate Prof in Health Services Res (Public Health & Primary Care)

Associate Professor Catherine Darker is a Health Psychologist and her research interests lie in translating evidence into practice, in particular, using theories, evidence and methods for changing the behaviours of healthcare professionals, patients and the general public. This is known in Ireland and the UK as Implementation Science research. She has a particular expertise in applying and developing complex intervention methodology in the context of community based programmes and trials (including intervention design, outcome measurement, fidelity, feasibility, and process evaluation), for prevention related research (e.g., smoking cessation, alcohol, physical activity/sedentary behaviour). She has a proven track record in attracting research funds as PI or Co-Applicant (€2.5 million). She has been PI and Co-PI on funded research by the Health Research Board (HRB) to undertake public health studies relating to COVID-19; a pilot cluster randomized trial of a community-based smoking cessation intervention for disadvantaged women in Ireland, and a a peer-to-peer motivational interview intervention for smoking, alcohol and physical activity among at risk adolescents in low SES communities. Professor Darker is routinely commissioned by the Health Service Executive to conduct outcome and process type evaluations of national programmes and services. All of her research has a clearly defined Knowledge Exchange Dissemination plan with recommendations to change policy and practice in the prevention and management of a range of chronic conditions. She has served as Head of Discipline of Public Health & Primary Care. She is the Director of Postgraduate Teaching and Learning within the School of Medicine. She is a senior member of teaching teams and develops and delivers innovative curriculum's for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. She is an active member of the Psychological Society of Ireland (Chartered Health Psychologist) having held many roles within the governance of the Society. She is a member of the European Health Psychology Society. She was an inaugural member of the Healthy Ireland Council, and a Member of the Expert Committee on Prevention within the Irish Cancer Society. She is a strong advocate for the just and equitable distribution of and access to healthcare services. She has over 100 peer reviewed publications (h-index 20) and supervises and examines PhD and Masters students. In 2024, she was elected as Fellow of Trinity College Dublin.
  Addiction research - alcohol   Addiction research - cocaine   Addiction research - opiates   Addictions   Adolescent Psychology   Alcohol/Alcoholism   Applied Psychology   Area & Population Studies/Services   Behavior Modification   Behavioral/Experimental Psychology   Behavioral/Social Studies/Services/Other   Behavioural change interventions   Clinical Psychology   Counseling/Guidance   Demography   Drugs/Drug Abuse   Health psychology   Health status and inequalities   Inner-City   Population based intervention trials   Population Studies   Population Studies--Developing Countries   Poverty and the Poor   Primary care   Prison   Psychology   Psychometrics   Public health   Public Planning/Policy   Smoking Behavior   Social Services Delivery   Social/Behavioral Science Planning/Policy   Socioeconomics   Substance Abuse   Surveys & Survey Research
 Development of an evaluation (process and outcomes) Toolkit to support the implementation of the Healthy Campus Charter and Framework
 VISTA: VISion To Action for promoting mental health and recovery. An Implementation Science approach to "Sharing the Vision" - Ireland's national mental health policy.
 Health Assets and Needs Assessment in Tallaght - Round 3
 Recruitment of adolescent girls into physical activity programmes: evidence to inform recruitment strategies for programme developers and policymakers.
 Creating an evidence-based toolbox for targeted public health interventions during COVID-19: a cross-border analysis to disentangle psychological, behavioural, media and governmental responses

Page 1 of 4
Details Date
Chair and Judge - BT Young Scientist Exhibition 2019-present
Trinity representative - Healthy County Committee (South Dublin) 2014-present
Irish Platform for Patient's Organisations, Science and Industry (IPPOSI)(Board Member) 2013-2018
Expert Committee on Prevention, Irish Cancer Society (Committee member) 2016-2018
Healthy Ireland (Council Member) 2014-2017
HEI HSE National Standard Undergraduate Curriculum for chronic disease prevention and management (Steering Group member) 2018 - present
Department of Health, National Advisory Committee on Drugs and Alcohol (subcommittee member of Treatment, Rehabilitation and Consequences, plus Research Advisory Group) 2013-2016
Expert Committee on Health Inequalities, Irish Cancer Society (Committee Member) 2015-2017
TASC Group on Health Inequalities (Committee member) 2012-2015
Health Reform Alliance (Chair; Ordinary Committee Member) 2014-2017
Reviewer for the following journals, inter alia: BMJ Open, BMC Public Health, BMC Health Services Research, BMC Family Practice, Health Policy, International Journal of Integrated Care, Health Psychology Review, Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, 2007-present
Council member - Psychological Society of Ireland 2011-2014
Honorary Secretary - Psychological Society of Ireland 2012-2014
Chair of Division of Health Psychology - Psychological Society of Ireland 2016-2017
Honorary Treasurer, Division of Health Psychology, Psychological Society of Ireland 2010-2013
Chair of Standing Committee on Psychometric Testing - Psychological Society of Ireland 2010-2013
Scientific Committee - Psychology, Health & Medicine Conference 2015;2019
Scientific Committee - International Foundation for Integrated Care Conference 2017
Language Skill Reading Skill Writing Skill Speaking
English Fluent Fluent Fluent
Details Date From Date To
IFIC Ireland (the International Foundation for Integrated Care) - Steering Committee member March 2024 present
Cochrane International Collaboration 2011 present
Psychological Society of Ireland (Registered Member 2009-2011) (Chartered Member 2011 - present) 2009 present
British Psychological Society (Full member 2008-2016) (Associate Fellow 2017 - present) 2008 present
European Health Psychology Society (Full Member) 2008 present
Supporting women with complex needs to access appropriate substance use treatment. in, editor(s)M. Florence, W. Vanderplasschen, M. Yu, J. De Maeyer, S. Savahl , Handbook of Addiction, Recovery and Quality of Life, Springer, 2025, [Ivers, J.H., Darker, C., & Paul. G.], Notes: [in press for 2025], Book Chapter, IN_PRESS  URL
Darker, C.D., Nicolson, G., Reddon, H., O"Connor, K., Jennings, R., & O"Connell, N., Monthly engagement with EIP keyworkers was associated with a five-fold increase in the odds of engagement with psychosocial interventions, BMC Psychiatry, 24, (96), 2024, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  URL
O'Brien T, Darker CD, Mockler D and Barrett EM., Strategies for recruitment of adolescent girls into physical activity programmes: a systematic review protocol, HRB Open Research, 7, (6), 2024, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI  URL
Darker CD, Mullin M, Doyle L, Tanner M, McGrath D, Doherty L, Dreyer-Gibney K, Barrett EM, Flynn D, Murphy P, Ivers JH, Burke E, Ryan M, McCarron M, Murphy P, Sheils O, Hevey D, Leen A, Keogh L, Walls B, Bennett AE, Petersen F, Nolan A, Barry JM., Developing a health promoting university in Trinity College Dublin-overview and outline process evaluation, Health Promotion International, 38, (4), 2023, p1 - 14, p1-14 , Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Darker, C.D., Nicolson, G., Reddon, H., O"Connor, K., Jennings, R., & O"Connell, N., Barriers and facilitators to the implementation of an early intervention in psychosis service in three demonstration sites in Ireland, BMC Health Services Research, 23, (653), 2023, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  URL
Catherine Darker; Kirsty Loudon; Nicola O'Connell; Stefania Castello; Emma Burke; Joanne Vance; Caitriona Reynolds; Aine Buggy; Nadine Dougall; Pauline Williams; Fiona Dobbie; Linda Bauld; Catherine B Hayes, An application of PRECIS-2 to evaluate trial design in a pilot cluster randomised controlled trial of a community-based smoking cessation intervention for women living in disadvantaged areas of Ireland, Pilot and Feasibility Studies, 8, (19), 2022, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  URL  Handle
Hayes CB, Patterson J, Castello S, Burke E, O'Connell N, Darker, CD Bauld L, Vance J, Ciblis A, Dobbie F, Loudon K, Declan D, Dougall N, Peer-Delivery of a Gender-Specific Smoking Cessation Intervention for Women Living in Disadvantaged Communities in Ireland We Can Quit2 (WCQ2)-A Pilot Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial, Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 24, (4), 2022, p564 - 573, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI  Handle
McCarron P., Smyth B., Carroll G., Glynn M., Barry J., Whiston L., Keenan E., Darker C., Truszkowska E., Patterns of new psychoactive substance use among opioid-dependent patients attending for opioid substitution treatment, HEROIN ADDICTION AND RELATED CLINICAL PROBLEMS, 24, (1), 2022, p21 - 29, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  URL
Darker CD, Burke E, Castello S, O'Sullivan K, O'Connell, N., Vance, J, Reynolds C, Buggy A, Dougall, N, Loudon K, Williams P, Dobbie F, Bauld L and Hayes, CB., A process evaluation of 'We Can Quit' a community-based smoking cessation intervention targeting women from areas of socio-disadvantage in Ireland., A process evaluation of 'We Can Quit' a community-based smoking cessation intervention targeting women from areas of socio-disadvantage in Ireland., BMC Public Health, 22, 2022, p1528-, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI
Martin Dempster, Nicola O'Connell, Christopher D. Graham, Cliodhna O'Connor, Lina Zgaga, Emma Burke, Luke Mather, Gail Nicolson, Joe Barry, Gabriel Scally, Ann Nolan. Katy Tobin, Philip Crowley and Catherine D. Darker, Non-adherence to COVID-19 containment behaviours: results from an all-Ireland telephone surv, BMC Public Health, 22, (898), 2022, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  DOI

Page 1 of 11
Gabriela M. Sorin, Catherine Darker , Lucy Whiston, Erica Donnelly-Swift, Joe Barry, Brendan D. Kelly, Physical and Mental Health in Post-Recession Ireland: A Community Study from Tallaght, Dublin, Meath Foundation , November, 2018, p1 - 14, Report, PUBLISHED
Darker, C.D., Health Gathering - what changes to local health and social care services are important to residents in Tallaght? , Health Gathering, Tallaght Stadium, Dublin , 2016, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
Darker, C.D., The Patients' Perspective - A Survey of Chronic Disease Management in Ireland, Adelaide Hospital Society Roundtable Meeting, Dublin, 2015, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
Darker, C.D. & O'Shea, B, Chronic Disease Management in Ireland. Perspectives from patients and clinical stakeholders - implications and recommendations for the Irish healthcare system, Adelaide Hospital Society Roundtable Meeting, Dublin, 2015, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
Darker CD, Whiston L, Long J, Donnelly-Swift E & Barry J, Health assets and needs assessment (HANA) in Tallaght, 2014, Dublin, 2015, Report, PUBLISHED
Darker C, Whiston L, O'Shea B, Chronic Disease Management in Ireland: Perspectives from patients and clinical stakeholders- implications and recommendations for the Irish healthcare system, Dublin, Adelaide Health Foundation, 2015, Report, PUBLISHED
Darker CD, Casey E, Seraukina T, Whiston L, & O'Shea B, The patients' perspective - a survey of chronic disease management in Ireland, Dublin, 2015, Report, PUBLISHED
Darker, C.D., Integrated healthcare in Ireland - a critical analysis and a way forward. , Integrated Care , Dublin, 2014, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
Darker, C.D., Contemporary Health Policy & Service Reforms - impact on Irish hospitals , The Mater Misericordiae University Hospital Annual Conference , Dublin, 2014, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED
Darker, C.D., Universal healthcare for Ireland , Irish Medical Organisation meeting , Dublin, 2014, Conference Paper, PUBLISHED


Page 1 of 2
Award Date
Fellow of Trinity College Dublin April 2024
Nominated for Provosts Teaching Award 2018-2019 February 2018
Winner of Dean's Award for Innovation in Teaching 2016 May 2016
I lead three key research themes: **1. Applied Behavioural Change Research:** My expertise lies in conducting applied research to address real-world health challenges. I design and execute studies that bridge theory and practice, generating actionable insights for policy and practice. I formulate research questions grounded in behavioural theory, design robust methodologies, and conduct rigorous data collection and analysis. I prioritise interdisciplinary collaboration and stakeholder engagement to ensure research relevance and impact. My research contributes to public health knowledge and supports evidence-informed decision-making in smoking cessation, alcohol use, and physical activity for the general public, chronic illness sufferers, and healthcare professionals. **2. Evaluation of Health Programmes and Services:** I excel in evaluating health policies, programmes, and services to assess their effectiveness and impact. Using qualitative and quantitative methods, I rigorously measure changes in behaviour, health outcomes, and equity indicators. I assess implementation fidelity, identify barriers, and provide improvement recommendations. My evaluations inform evidence-based decision-making, influencing clinical practice and health policy. My HRB-funded trial changed treatment for methadone service patients in Ireland. My research impacted health psychology theories and questionnaire design. Additionally, my evaluation of the National Clinical Care Programmes in Ireland shapes their national reconfiguration. **3. Health Policy Implementation:** My expertise includes advising on policy implementation using implementation science principles. I systematically study the process of integrating evidence-based interventions into real-world settings, identifying barriers and facilitators, tailoring strategies to context, engaging stakeholders, and monitoring progress. This ensures effective implementation and sustained impact of policies in diverse healthcare environments. I have exceeded the Research Metrics of FHS for Associate Professor, achieving a personal score of 36.5 over four years, despite two maternity leaves. I have secured over €2.4 million in research funding and published extensively in leading health journals, with 103 publications (73 as senior author) and an h-index of 21, with 1,900 citations. My research is widely reported in media, including the Irish Times and RTE radio. As a research leader, I enhance the School's and College's research reputation and lead in Public and Patient Involvement (PPI), improving research relevance and societal impact. I have supervised five PhD students to completion.