Galway researcher is first Irish recipient of prestigious international award

galway daily nui galway researcher hannah durand award psychology

A researcher at NUI Galway has received a prestigious international award for an outstanding PhD in the field of health psychology.

Dr Hannah Durand, a researcher in the University’s School of Psychology, became the first Irish person to win the the Herman Schaalma Award of the European Health Psychology Society (EHPS).

Her research looked at the reasons people who have hard-to-control blood pressure do or do not take their medications as prescribed.

Dr Durand’s research was supervised by Dr Gerry Molloy of the School of Psychology and Professor Andrew Murphy of the Discipline of General Practice at NUI Galway.

Professor Evangelos Karademas, President of the EHPS, said: “The Herman Schaalma Award aims to highlight excellence in PhD level research and to reinforce early career researchers to address key challenges in health psychology and adopt novel and rigorous theory and methodology.

“I offer my sincere congratulations to Dr Durand on her well-deserved success.”

Galway native, Dr Durand is one of several researchers at NUI Galway leveraging their expertise to address aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With funding from the Health Research Board and Irish Research Council, researchers from the School of Psychology are working with the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to understand why people do or do not adhere to physical distancing guidelines.

A protocol for this research is freely available from the Health Research Board.

Dr Hannah Durand said: “We are using insights from health psychology to understand what motivates individuals’ behavioural responses to the pandemic. Our aim is to utilise our research findings to inform and refine future government communications about physical distancing.”

The first aspect of this research, an online survey conducted in collaboration with researchers at the Montreal Behavioural Medicine Centre, is currently accepting responses.

The Herman Schaalma Award ceremony, which was due to take place at the European Health Psychology Society annual conference in Bratislava, Slovakia, was recently held online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.