Health Psychology

The RCSI Department of Health Psychology was established in 1985, making it the first psychology department in a medical school in Ireland.

Psychology was integrated as a core discipline in our medical curriculum in 1987, and it remains a central component of the curriculum for our Undergraduate Medicine, Pharmacy and Physiotherapy students today.

We currently have eight full-time academic staff across three continents (Ireland, Bahrain and Malaysia).

The academic departments of Health Psychology and Public Health and Epidemiology form part of the Centre for Population Health and Health Services Research.

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The Department of Health Psychology provides health psychology, behavioural sciences and research methods teaching to Medicine, Physiotherapy and Pharmacy Undergraduate students; Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM) students; Postgraduate Masters; and Structured PhD programmes.

We focus on developing students’ team working skills, their resilience and reflective practitioner skills – ensuring that our graduates have the knowledge, values, and abilities necessary to build healthy professional and patient relationships, and deliver person-centred healthcare.

Undergraduate Medicine and Physiotherapy students and GEM students currently take a dedicated health psychology module entitled ‘Health, Behaviour and Patient Safety’, as well as an integrated neuroscience module that encompasses a significant psychology component.

RCSI Pharmacy students complete the MPharm degree, in which psychology is integrated throughout the five years of the programme. Our teaching integrates key themes from psychology and health psychology such as lifespan development, learning and memory, health risk behaviours, adherence and health behaviour change theory with other core pharmacy competencies such as pharmacy practice, pharmacology, pharmaceutics, and pharmaceutical chemistry.

Our Postgraduate teaching comprises health psychology and research methods input on the SPHeRE PhD programme, the Physician Associate programme, the Masters in Surgery (MCh) programme and a short course in Health Research Methods. In addition, we supervise MCh, MSc and PhD theses.

The Department of Health Psychology makes a key contribution to RCSI’s research activities, with an international reputation for health psychology, health services and population health research. To date, the department has received over €20 million in grant awards and has a strong publication record, authoring over 50 national reports and more than 400 peer-reviewed journal articles.

The department's research focusses, in particular, on cardiovascular disease, ageing, sexual health, quality of life assessment, respiratory disease, psychometrics, mental health, health behaviours, and complex intervention development and implementation.

Our faculty actively contribute to the health psychology community by hosting national and international conferences, including the European Health Psychology Society and Psychology, Health and Medicine annual conferences. We have also chaired the Psychological Society of Ireland Division of Health Psychology and have two past presidents of the European Health Psychology Society.

The department currently has 28 postgraduate scholars – including 18 PhDs, two MDs and eight Masters students (including MScs and MChs) – working on a diverse range of projects.

Certificate in Lifestyle Medicine logoLifestyle medicine is the science and application of healthy lifestyles as interventions for the promotion of health and well-being, and for the prevention and treatment of lifestyle-related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, obesity and some cancers.

The aim of the Certificate in Lifestyle Medicine is to provide you with evidence-based knowledge and practical strategies to instill healthy lifestyle behaviours in yourself as well as in your future patients.

This certificate focuses on six pillars of healthy lifestyles:

Stress Management Nutrition Physical Activity
  • The role of stress in health
  • Strategies for the management of daily stressors
  • The role of nutrition in health
  • How to provide brief nutrition advice to patients
  • The role of physical activity in health
  • How to provide brief physical activity advice to patients
Sleep Smoking Alcohol and Drug Use
  • The role of sleep in health
  • Strategies for optimum sleep
  • The impact of smoking tobacco and cannabis on health
  • Strategies for smoking cessation
  • The impact of alcohol intake and drug use on health
  • Strategies for moderation of alcohol and other drug use

Course details

To complete the Certificate in Lifestyle Management, you must:

  • Complete all online sessions 
  • Complete and pass all quizzes and other assessments embedded in the online sessions
  • Choose a specific area in which to make a personal lifestyle change, complete a daily diary and an online reflection on your experience of the process of lifestyle change
  • Complete an assignment on a brief intervention for behaviour change. This will involve pairing up with a peer on the lifestyle medicine course to achieve the following learning outcomes:
    • Assess your own beliefs on a particular topic of behaviour change
    • Deliver and record a brief intervention for behaviour change using the principles of lifestyle medicine and motivational interviewing
    • Assess your own performance in delivering brief interventions for lifestyle change
    • Complete an online session on self-care and all embedded assessment components
Session Dates
Introduction to Lifestyle Management 4 October – 28 November 2021
Stress Management 4 October – 28 November 2021
Nutrition 25 October – `19 December 2021
Smoking 10 January – 6 March 2022
Sleep 31 January – 27 March 2022
Physical Activity 21 February – 17 April 2022
Alcohol and Substance Use 14 March – 31 May 2022
Conclusion 4 April 2022
Assignment submission 31 August 2022

How to apply

This optional certificate is available to all students in Medicine, Graduate Entry Medicine, Physiotherapy and Pharmacy. Notifications will be sent to all course groups once applications are open.

For more information, contact

Professor/Head of Department and Head of Division of Population Health Sciences

Associate Professor

Senior Lecturers


Post-doctoral Researchers

Honorary Senior Lecturer

  • Niall Pender (Beaumont Hospital)

Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer

  • Diane Gillan (Beaumont Hospital)