The Maynooth University Health, Science and Community Research Network (HSCN) encompasses and expands on older interdisciplinary and cross-faculty platforms at Maynooth. We are a group of engaged scholars stretched between all the Faculties at the University working on the broad overlap of well-being, care and society. We are committed to a three-faculty approach to understanding health and social care issues, from the laboratory to the living room including; basic research across all relevant disciplines, the constitution of formal and informal services, and the ways that people make decisions around their own and their loved ones’ wellbeing.
Health is both an individual and collective good. We look to science, broadly defined, both to support health and provide an appropriate evidence base to inform policy and practice as well as to develop novel techniques, interventions and technologies. At the same time, it is people who get sick and seek care. Thus, by referring to “community” we seek the meaningful context(s) and lived experience within which human beings both experience illness and seek help and support, but also the way that professional and lay understandings interact with this process. These include, but are not limited to, local human and financial resources, social and cultural processes, and health service provision. Such configurations, of course, vary across scale and between contexts, but also (sometimes radically) within settings themselves. The promise of everything from patient- and person- centred care (PCC) to personalized pharmacology is ultimately dependent on understanding – through the use of the full range of research methods and cross-disciplinary approaches – how real people in actual circumstances think and behave with regard to their sense of health and wellbeing, as well as their understanding of illness and their seeking of care/support.
Health research that connects basic science, clinical knowledge and the actual behaviour of people in their communities has never been more important as evidence proliferates that personalized and person-centred care is necessary, while lifestyle emerges as both a key risk factor in morbidity and mortality (and for both physical and mental health and well-being), as well as being fundamental to formulating both preventative strategies and therapeutic interventions. There is an urgent need for more creative and thoughtful approaches to improve health and well-being and social care for all, including, but not limited to:
- Identifying, assessing and meeting the health needs of populations, especially those who are vulnerable due to their age and background or risky behaviours (e.g. the very young, the elderly and those with addiction problems);
- Addressing the increasing economic importance of chronic illnesses/NCDs in Ireland (and across the globe) partly as a consequence of an ageing population (but also because of lifestyle changes), whose outcomes and costs of care are highly sensitive to psychological and social well-being factors (e.g. healthy attitudes, behavioural issues, care in the informal sector and creating and maintaining therapeutic alliances);
- Countering the fragmented nature of health (and social) services in Ireland and beyond (e.g. services for people with mental health problems), thus taking seriously the whole person in “personalized” care;
- Meeting an unprecedented demand for translational, policy-relevant research. Research teams that can pull together world-class scholars stretched between the university’s lab and the patient’s living room who are able and willing to collaborate with one another will be at a natural advantage to confront all of these challenges.
- Sinead McGilloway, Department of Psychology
- Dr Jamie Saris, Department of Anthropology
- Dr Deirdre Desmond, Department of Psychology
- Valerie Heffernan, Department of German
- Catriona O’Toole, Department of Sociology
- Jan Rigby, Department of Geography
- Richard Roche, Department of Psychology
- Trevor Vaugh, Department of Design Innovation
- Tomas Ward, Department of Electronic Engineering