Prize Winners for Final year and MSc in Psychology 2021

Monday, November 15, 2021 - 14:45

During the recent graduation ceremonies held at Maynooth University, a number of our graduates were awarded prizes in recognition for their performance on the psychology programmes in the academic year 2020/2021.  Congratulations to all of them.

The list of awardees are as follows:
Carmel Staunton Prize for Best Final Year Project, Awarded for the highest score achieved in the Final year Psychology Research Project
Joint Winners: Alanna Massey and Beth McKeague 

W. J. Smyth Prize for Best Performance in BA (Hons) Psychology, Awarded for the highest score in the Final year Psychology class
Joint Winners: Jennifer Corrigan, Dara Turpin, Rachel Fitzpatrick
Final Year Prize in Psychology Through Science, Awarded for the highest score in the Final Year Psychology Through Science class
Winner: Beth McKeague 
Final Year Prize in Psychological Studies, Awarded for the highest score in the Final Year Psychological Studies class
Winner: Molly Doyle 
Prize for Best Overall Performance, MSc Psychology, Awarded for the highest score in the MSc Psychology
Winner: Sean Durkan
Prize for the Best Research Project, MSc Psychology, Awarded for the highest score achieved in the MSc Psychology Research Project
Joint Winners: Raissa Borges De Jesus, Scott Dundun Dowling, Sean Durkan, Joy Forbes and Eabha McGowan 

Patient delay in the COVID-19 pandemic: an effect of healthcare-seeking attitudes?
Beth McKeague, Joint Winner of the Carmel Staunton Prize for Best Final Year Project
Attitudes about a behaviour are a large part of what makes us act the way we do. One of these types of behaviours are called health behaviours. These are activities carried out by people to either make their health better, or try to stop future health problems from happening. Health behaviours can be split into two groups: lifestyle (e.g., exercise, food), and healthcare-seeking (e.g., using medication, going to the doctor). Health behaviours influence the end result of a health problem. One example of this is patient delay, which is when someone delays seeking treatment for a health issue after they first notice symptoms, leading to worse effects for the person’s health long-term. Unfortunately, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare organisations around the world have noticed a significant drop in non-COVID related hospital admissions and therefore an increase of patient delay. The aims of this study were to answer the following questions using a survey: (1) Have attitudes towards seeking medical care changed since the COVID-19 pandemic? (2) What factors can predict changes in attitudes towards seeking medical care? and (3) Is there a link between COVID-19 anxiety and attitudes towards seeking medical care?  Results from 154 participants suggest that attitudes towards seeking medical care are not the reason for the drop in hospital admissions during the pandemic. People’s differing life experiences, such as positive or negative attitudes towards seeking medical care, anxiety, stress, and more, could explain why there was no overall change in attitudes. Further research should be done into who is at risk of patient delay during the pandemic and why. If these issues are not tackled, then the increase in worse health outcomes and avoidable deaths in the months and years after the COVID-19 pandemic will regrettably continue.  

The Role of Self-Compassion in Mental Health and Well-Being: An Exploratory Study
Alanna Massey, Joint Winner of the Carmel Staunton Prize for Best Final Year Project
Self-compassion means being your own best friend. You can do this in different ways, from displaying warmth and understanding while providing support to yourself through self-kindness, mindfully approaching your mistakes and suffering in a balanced, non-judgmental manner and acknowledging that everyone has imperfections, hard times and failures. Research exploring self-compassion has grown rapidly during the last two decades and previous international research has shown strong links to mental health and well-being. This research explored the relationship between self-compassion and depression, anxiety, stress and life satisfaction, and paid specific attention to the role of sex and age in self-compassion. We also wanted to understand the extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic influenced these relationships. To explore these relationships, we conducted an online survey with 218 respondents, most of whom were female, and ranged in age from 18-69. Overall, the people who responded reported moderate levels of self-compassion, and those with higher self-compassion were more likely to have lower levels of anxiety and stress and higher levels of life satisfaction. People aged between 31 and 50 reported higher levels of self-compassion, as opposed to young adults. We did not find any specific link between sex and self-compassion. We did find, however, that approximately three quarters of the sample reported that COVID-19 has negatively affected their mental health and well-being, with increased stress and anxiety levels and lower self-compassion. This research adds to existing evidence which suggests that self-compassion is positively associated with mental health and well-being, although there is a need for further research.