Researchers at UCD


Deirdre O'Donnell


School Of Nursing,Midwifery & Health Sys
Health Sciences Centre
Dublin 4

Tel: +353 1 7166503


Dr. Deirdre O'Donnell, is a lecturer in Health Systems in the UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems. In 2011 she obtained her PHD from Trinity College Dublin; her doctoral thesis investigated the relationship between biographical narrative and later life psycho-social well-being through community-based research. This study was concerned with later life well-being as it relates to life course and cohort effects of disadvantage associated with social and cultural themes of gender and social class. Dr O'Donnell teaches in the areas of health systems and policy, the social determinants of health, public and patient participation in the design and implementation of health policy, the appraisal of evidence for healthcare practice as well as health policy and practice for vulnerable population groups.  Her research interests include integrated health care emphasising public and patient participation and collaboration, elder abuse prevention and intervention as well as later life well-being and healthy ageing. Dr O'Donnell has a strong track record of collaborative research with older people and is a co-founder of the Older People's Empowerment Network (OPEN). She engages in academic research which emphasises participatory collaboration with older people in a grounded up and user driven approach to health policy development and implementation. 



Conference Contributions

O'Donnell, D. (2007) Connecting Gender, Age and Social Engagement. [Oral Presentation], The Lived Life Symposium Meeting (In association with the Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing), Trinity College Dublin , 01-JUN-07 - 30-JUN-07.
O'Donnell, D. (2007) Ageing, Femininities and Experience: Qualitative expressions of gender in later life. [Oral Presentation], 8th International European Sociological Association Conference, Glasgow, Scotland, U.K , 01-SEP-07 - 30-SEP-07.
O'Donnell, D. (2008) The Becoming of Age: Explorations in theoretical approaches to the lived experience of ageing. [Oral Presentation], The 6th International Symposium on Cultural Gerontology, University of Lleida , 01-SEP-08 - 30-SEP-08.
O'Donnell, D. and McTiernan, K. (2009) Storied Lives: An exploration of narrative identities and the factors linked to happiness in later life. [Oral Presentation], Times of Our Lives: Growing up, growing old, Mansfield College, Oxford , 01-JUN-09 - 30-JUN-09.
O'Donnell, D. and McTiernan, K. (2009) Connecting Narrative Identities and the Factors linked to Happiness in Later Life. [Oral Presentation], IPPA World Congress on Positive Psychology, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA , 01-JUN-09 - 30-JUN-09.
Ahern, A., MacRuairc, G., McNamara, M., O¿Connor, T., O¿Donnell, D. (2011) Interpreting Critical Thinking for Engineering Education: The views of employers and academics. [Oral Presentation], ICEE: An International Conference on Engineering Education, University of Ulster, Belfast , 01-NOV-11 - 30-NOV-11.
O¿Donnell, D. and McTiernan, K. (2011) Local Stories in Global Contexts: An exploration of the construction of eudaimonic happiness in later life through the scaffolding of life stories onto wider social and cultural narrative frames. [Oral Presentation], Ageing Globally, Ageing Locally, Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI) , 01-NOV-11 - 30-NOV-11.
McTiernan, K. and O¿Donnell, D. (2011) The Life History Digital Repository: Exchanging knowledge of the lived life. [Oral Presentation], Ageing Globally, Ageing Locally, Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI) , 01-NOV-11 - 30-NOV-11.
O'Donnell, D. (2011) Women and Ambition in the Irish Civil Service. [Invited Oral Presentation], Civil Service Women Managers Network, Dublin Castle, Ireland , 01-DEC-11 - 31-DEC-11.
O'Connor, T., McNamara, M., Ahern, A., MacRuairc, G., O'Donnell, D. (2011) Theorising Critical Thinking in Nursing Education. [Oral Presentation], 3rd International Nursing and Midwifery Conference, University College Galway , 01-NOV-11 - 30-NOV-11.
McTiernan, K., O'Donnell, D. (2012) The creation of life meaning and well-being through reflections in context: Reminiscence and generativity. [Poster Presentation], International Network on Personal Meaning Conference, Toronto, Canada , 01-JUL-12 - 31-JUL-12.
O'Donnell, D., Fealy, G., Downes, C. (2013) Developing an empowerment intervention for the protection of older people from abuse. [Oral Presentation], 42nd Annual Conference of British Society of Gerontology, University of Oxford , 01-SEP-13 - 30-SEP-13.
O'Donnell, D. (2013) ¿Having a voice, being heard¿: The role of empowerment in the prevention of elder abuse. [Keynote Address], World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, University College Dublin , 01-JUN-13 - 30-JUN-13.



Book Chapters

O'Donnell, D. (2011) 'Narrative, self and identity: Explorations in theoretical approaches to narrative identities and the construction of 'self' in later life' In: Brian J. Worsfold (eds). Acculturating Age: Approaches to Cultural Gerontology. Lleida, Spain: University of Lleida Press. [Details]
O'Donnell, D. & McTiernan, K. (2013) 'Storied Lives: Connecting Life Course Narrative Identities and Eudaimonic Happiness in Later Life' In: A. Nicholas & I. Flaherty (eds). Growing Up, Growing Old: Trajectories of Times and Lives. Oxford: Interdisciplinary Press. [Details]

Peer Reviewed Journals

Ahern, A., O'Connor, T., MacRuairc, G., McNamara, M., O'Donnell, D. (2012) 'Critical Thinking in the University Curriculum: The impact on engineering education'. European Journal of Engineering Education, . [Details]
O'Donnell, D., Treacy, M.P., Fealy, G., Lyons, I., Lafferty, A. (2015) 'The case management approach to elder abuse and mistreatment: Lessons from the Irish experience'. British Journal of Social Work, 45 (5):1451-1468. [Details]

Conference Publications

O'Donnell, D. and McTiernan, K. (2010) Storied Lives: An Exploration of Life Course Narrative Identities and the Factors Linked to Happiness in Later Life Times of our Lives. Making Sense of: Growing up and growing old , pp.146-159 Available Online [Details]

Published Reports

Valiulis, M., O'Donnell, D., Redmond, J. (2008) Women and Ambition in the Irish Civil Service. Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Ireland. [Details]
O'Donnell, D., Treacy, M.P., Fealy, G., Lyons, I., Lafferty A. (2012) Managing Elder Abuse in Ireland: The Senior Case Worker¿s Experience. NCPOP, University College Dublin. [Details]
Fealy, G., O'Donnell, D., Patton, D., Downes, C., O'Connor, T. (2014) An Evaluation of the HSE National Training Programme in Preventing Elder Abuse. NCPOP, University College Dublin. [Details]


Research Interests

  • Integrated health care
  • Public and patient participation in health policy formation and implementation
  • Elder abuse prevention and intervention
  • Health ageing and later life well-being
  • Eudaimonic well-being


Teaching Philosophy

My philosophy of teaching is to create an environment that facilitates guided discovery and exploration. Learning therefore is an active process whereby knowledge is constructed rather than acquired. Good and effective teaching therefore depends upon intellectual exchange between me and my students as well as between the students themselves.

Modules Coordinated

201500   NMHS30970     Nursing,Midwifery & Health Sys: Evidence Based Practice HCare
201500   NMHS31890     Nursing,Midwifery & Health Sys: Res NursingPractice Summer Lg
201500   NMHS31900     Nursing,Midwifery & Health Sys: Res NursingPractice Summer Sh

Enhancement of Teaching

Review and Enhancement of Curriculum

Developing as a Teacher

Innovation & Leadership


Internal Collaborators

Professor Eilish McAuliffe, UCD Health Systems
Dr Hasheem Mannan, UCD Health Systems
Professor Gerard Fealy, UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems