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The European Health Psychology Society (EHPS) Conference 2018 - SASHLab on Tour!

If you follow us on social media you may have noticed that many of our lab members presented at this year's EHPS conference, held in NUIG from August 21st-25th.

I was lucky enough to receive an EHPS CREATE grant to attend this year’s conference. The Collaborative REsearch And Training in the EHPS (CREATE) is a subdivision of EPHS specifically for early career researchers. As part of this grant I also had the opportunity to attend the pre-conference workshop “Who do I want to be when I grow up and how do I get there” – I highly recommend applying for this grant if you are an early career researcher and self-funded. It really helped with the costs of the conference, and through it I met so many wonderful people! But, I’ll talk more on this in my workshop report, which will be published in the European Health Psychologist.

With the influx of SASHLab(ers) on Tuesday evening the conference kicked off to a great start.

The following morning myself, Siobhán Griffin, (pictured left), and fellow lab member, Grace McMahon (pictured below) presented our PhD research during the “Stress: Cardiovascular Physiology” session. Along with us were excellent presentations from Kathrin Wunsch, Ainslea Cross and our chair Andreas Schwerdtfeger. There were common themes among our research and that of the other presenters in our session. Ainslea spoke of the role of cardiovascular reactivity in behaviour change, while Andreas discussed physiological responses to stress in firefighters – similar to the focus of our lab member Katie’s PhD research!

After this session, I could finally relax! I love presenting my research, however it was quite nerve-racking to talk about my PhD work to an audience of experts! So, I was glad to finish the oral presentation and be able to enjoy the rest of the conference! There were seven parallel sessions at a time, so we had many options (perhaps too many) to choose from! We ended up splitting up at times, seeing different sessions and reporting back with any interesting research. Later that evening we had an interactive poster session with lab members Eoin Brown and Adam O’ Riordan presenting their research. No-one was too sure what exactly an interactive poster session would entail - but it was a pleasant surprise. Each individual spoke about their research for three minutes, with an opportunity for the attendees to ask questions after. It was a great learning experience and forum for discussion. This session was chaired by Samantha Dockray; and I have never seen a chair put presenters at so much ease. After a lovely evening of research and networking it was time for food! We happened upon the Front Door and it was soon to become a regular spot for us! I think we all fell in love with Galway over the week (any post-docs going?!)

Adam O’ Riordan (left) and Eoin Brown (right) presenting their research.

Thursday was an early start (but well worth it) to attend a symposium on “Social relationships and health across the illness trajectory: Challenges of harnessing social support for health” organised by SASHLab’s Ann-Marie Creaven. Ann-Marie (pictured right) presented research which examined the impact of social group membership on physical activity, using data from ParkRun. Our own Stephen Gallagher (pictured below) gave a presentation in this symposium, along with Neil Coulson, Christine Rini and Ellen Stephenson, with Tracey Revenson as chair. Again, we split up for the afternoon session. Katie and I attended a round table discussion on opportunities beyond academia; with a specific focus on applying health psychology research in practical settings. Similar to the pre-conference workshop I attended it highlighted employment opportunities post-PhD, or after a post-Doc. A lot of these options involved working with NGOs or in organisations, creating health Apps or working in clinical settings. There really are a number of options if you are working in areas of e-Health, medication adherence or conducting intervention-type research!

Later that afternoon we had the last of our lab’s interactive poster sessions. Adam discussed Type D personality and perceived life stress, while Aisling Costello focused on emotion dysregulation and cardiovascular recovery from stress (pictured below). This session was chaired by Páraic Ó Súilleabháin, one of our alumni and former PhD student of Siobhán Howard. Later that evening we all got dolled up to attend the conference dinner, and although there was some confusion the organisers in NUIG sorted it in no time. Soon there was a buffet, Irish dancers and a DJ – it was the best conference dinner I’ve yet to go to (even though it’s now being referred to as the non-conference dinner)!

At the 9am the following morning Katie (pictured below, right) gave her oral presentation; discussing the psychophysiological responses of firefighters to a stimulated emergency in a

session focused on occupational health. Overall, it was a fantastic week – full of new research, networking and good food (the pizza in Da Robertas is to die for). I left full of ideas and new energy for my last year of the PhD and contemplating Galway as a potential place to live! Looking forward to EHPS 2019 which is being held in Dubrovnik (aka Kings Landing for any Game of Thrones fans).

Enjoying ourselves at the conference dinner! #SASHLabonTour!

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