Dr Joanna Mchugh Power

Psychology

Senior Lecturer

Education House
First
1.1.5
(01) 708 6658

Biography

I am an Associate Professor in Psychology at Maynooth University. My research area is loneliness and social functioning in later life. I am particularly interested in formulating definitions of loneliness, understanding its impact on health outcomes such as cognitive ageing and physical health, and evaluating interventions designed to reduce loneliness. I am a member of I-LINK (International Loneliness and Isolation Research Network), an international consortium of experts, the goal of which is to increase society’s ability through international collaboration to respond to loneliness throughout the life cycle by facilitating the sharing of knowledge and building of connections that will help improve the quality of research, policy, practice and overall understanding of loneliness. 
I have received almost 500,000 euro in research funding in recent years, and I have over 40 peer-reviewed publications in the field of gerontology and social functioning. I am particularly interested in collaborating with the voluntary and non-governmental sectors to evaluate services that aim to reduce loneliness. I am currently supervising 3 PhD students who are conducting research on areas related to loneliness and cognitive ageing. 

Research Interests

My research focuses on loneliness and its impact on health in later life, from an inter-disciplinary (psychological and public health/epidemiology) perspective. I have focused on three key priorities: defining loneliness, exploring its impact on health, and identifying and implementing successful interventions for loneliness, in older adult populations. 

Research Projects

Title Role Description Start date End date Amount
NF/2019/15788215-SpOusal CaregIver Loneliness during the Nursing Home Admission of a Person with Dementia. PI 01/05/2020 31/12/2021 11978
Health and Loneliness in Older Adults PI Loneliness is related to poor health in later life. One way in which loneliness is often addressed is via befriending services such as those offered by ALONE. The mission statement of ALONE's befriending service is to reduce the impact of loneliness on poor health. ALONE have identified a need for an empirical evaluation of the potential benefits of befriending services. The proposed research aims to create empirical evidence for the impact of befriending services on health and loneliness, assisting ALONE in developing and refining their mission statement. The research question is: "Do befriending services improve health (measured as health-related quality of life and cognitive function) and do they mitigate the impact of loneliness on health?" A secondary aim is to identify, using exploratory methods, potential mechanisms through which befriending impacts health. Plan of Investigation: A mixed methods design, integrating qualitative and quantitative methods, is planned. The quantitative component comprises an AB single-case experimental multiple baseline design (Shadish, Hedges, et al., 2014) , analysed using generalised additive modelling, and the qualitative component comprises semi-structured interviews (with befriender-befriendee dyads and healthcare professionals associated with the service) designed and analysed according to the principles of grounded theory. Results will be integrated according to mixed methods guidelines, undergo triangulation, and an economic analysis will evaluate the cost should the service be rolled out nationally. All results will be integrated to form the basis of recommendations for the befriending sector, to be disseminated to policymakers. Results will also be disseminated via peer-reviewed publication and lay report. Potential Impact: The study has potential to improve the service offered by ALONE by empirically testing its effectiveness and mechanisms of action, influence policy with this information, and contribute to our theoretical understanding of the nature of the relationship between befriending, loneliness, and health. 31/07/2018 31/10/2021 158000
Alcohol Consumption and Brain Health in Older Adults across the Island of Ireland Co-PI 01/01/2018 30/03/2019 45800
Social determinants of Cognitive Functioning in Older Adults PI 01/10/2014 30/09/2018 241610

Peer Reviewed Journal

Year Publication
2021 Joyce, J., Ryan, J., Owen, A., Hu, J., McHugh Power, J., Shah, R., Woods, R., Storey, E., Britt, C., Freak-Poli, R., ASPREE Investigator Group (2021) 'Social isolation, social support, and loneliness and their relationship with cognitive health and dementia'. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, . https://doi.org/10.1002/gps.5644
2021 O’sullivan R.;Burns A.;Leavey G.;Leroi I.;Burholt V.;Lubben J.;Holt-Lunstad J.;Victor C.;Lawlor B.;Vilar-Compte M.;Perissinotto C.M.;Tully M.A.;Sullivan M.P.;Rosato M.;Power J.M.;Tiilikainen E.;Prohaska T.R. (2021) 'Impact of the covid-19 pandemic on loneliness and social isolation: A multi-country study'. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18 (19). [DOI]
2021 Daly, M., MacLachlan, M., Maguire, R., Power, J. M., Nolan, A., Shevlin, M., ... & Hyland, P (2021) 'Changes in PTSD, depression, and generalized anxiety before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland'. Journal of Affective Disorders, 5 . [DOI]
2021 Holton E.;Fitzpatrick R.;Maguire R.;Commins S.;Scharf T.;Lawlor B.;Johnson N.;Hannigan C.;Power J.M. (2021) 'Older users of a befriending service in ireland and the maintenance of personal autonomy during the covid-19 pandemic'. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18 (6):1-16. [DOI]
2021 McHugh Power, J. (2021) 'It takes (more than) a village: Commentary on Lonely in a Crowd'. International Psychogeriatrics, .
2021 Fowler E; Woodside JV; Loughrey D; Kee F; Lawlor BA & McHugh Power J; (2021) 'Reconnecting with others: Grounded theory of social functioning following age-related hearing loss’'. Ageing and Society, . [DOI]
2020 Hannigan, C., Hanly, P., Kee, F., Lawlor, B., Holton, E., Walsh, C., Scharf, T., Coen, R., Leatham, V., Moynihan, S., Lane, K., McHugh Power, J. (2020) 'HALO: Study protocol for a single-case experimental design study evaluating the moderating impact of a befriending intervention on the association between loneliness and health in older adults'. Hrb Open Research, . [Full-Text]
2020 Geeske Peters, Roman Romero-Ortuno, Brian Lawlor, Rose Ann Kenny, Joanna McHugh Power (2020) 'Clustering of behavioural changes and their associations with cognitive decline in older adults'. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, .
2020 Pennie, B., Loughrey, D., McHugh Power, J., McEvoy, C., Sheerin, C. & Kelly, M. (2020) 'Adherence to the traditional Mediterranean diet and global cognitive functioning: A systematic review and meta-analysis'. Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, . [Full-Text]
2019 Hyland, P., McGinty, G., Karatzias, T., Murphy, J., Vallieres, F., McHugh Power, J. (2019) 'Can the REBT Explain Loneliness? Theoretical and clinical applications'. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 48 (1):39-51. [Full-Text]
2019 McHugh Power, J.E., Carney, S., Hannigan, C., Brennan, S., Wolfe, H., Lynch, M., Kee, F. & Lawlor, B.A. (2019) 'Systemic inflammatory markers and sources of social support among older adults in the Memory Research Unit cohort'. Journal of Health Psychology, 24 (3):397-406. [Full-Text]
2019 McHugh Power, J., Sjöberg, L., Kee, F., Kenny, R.A. & Lawlor, B.A. (2019) 'Comparisons of the discrepancy between loneliness and social isolation across Ireland and Sweden: Findings from TILDA and SNAC-K'. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, . [Full-Text]
2019 McHugh Power, J., Hannigan, C., Carney, S., Feeney, J., Kenny, R.A., Kee, F. & Lawlor, B.A. (2019) 'Lonely SARTs: Loneliness and sustained attention in the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing'. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, . [Full-Text]
2019 McHugh Power, J., Tang, J., Kenny, R.A., Lawlor, B.A. & Kee, F. (2019) 'Mediating the relationship between loneliness and cognitive function: The role of depressive and anxiety symptoms'. Aging and Mental Health, . [Full-Text]
2019 Hyland, P., Shevlin, M., Cloitre, M., Karatzias, T., Vallières, F., McGinty, G., Fox, R. & McHugh Power, J. (2019) 'Quality not quantity: Loneliness subtypes, psychological trauma, and mental health in the U.S. adult population'. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, . [DOI] [Full-Text]
2019 McHugh Power, J., Steptoe, A., Kee, F. & Lawlor, B.A (2019) 'Loneliness and social engagement in older adults: Bivariate dual change score analysis'. Psychology and Aging, 34 (1):152-162. [Full-Text]
2020 Loughrey, D., Feeney, J., Kee, F., Lawlor, B.A., Kenny, R.A., Woodside, J., Setti, A., McHugh Power, J.E (2020) 'Social factors may mediate the relationship between hearing loss and episodic memory'. Aging and Mental Health, . [Full-Text]
2016 Dröes, R.M., Chattat, R., Diaz, A., Gove, DDröes, R.M., Chattat, R., Diaz, A., Gove, D., Graff, M., Murphy, K., Verbeek, H., Vernooij-Dassen, M., Clare, L., Johannessen, A., Roes, M., Verhey, F., Charras, K., van Audenhove, C., Casey, D., Evans, S., Fabbo, A., Franco, M., Gerritsen, D., Vittoria Gianelli, M., Gonςalves-Pereira, M., Gzil, F., van Hout, H., Innes, A., Hee Jeon, Y., Koopmans, R., Kristensen, F., Losada Baltar, A., McEvoy, P., McHugh, J., Meiland, F., Moniz-Cook, E., Parkes, J., Rymaszewska, J., Spruytte, N., Surr, C., de Vugt, M., Wolf-Ostermann, K., Zuidema, S., Graff, M., Murphy, K., Verbeek, H., Vernooij-Dassen, M., Clare, L., Johannessen, A., Roes, M., Verhey, F., Charras, K., van Audenhove, C., Casey, D., Evans, S., Fabbo, A., Franco, M., Gerritsen, D., Vittoria Gianelli, M., Gonςalves-Pereira, M., Gzil, F., van Hout, H., Innes, A., Hee Jeon, Y., Koopmans, R., Kristensen, F., Losada Baltar, A., McEvoy, P., McHugh, J., Meiland, F., Moniz-Cook, E., Parkes, J., Rymaszewska, J., Spruytte, N., Surr, C., de Vugt, M., Wolf-Ostermann, K., Zuidema, S. (2016) 'Social health and dementia: a European consensus on the operationalization of the concept and directions for research and practice'. Aging and Mental Health, 21 (1).
2010 McHugh, J.E., McDonnell, R., O’Sullivan, C. & Newell, F. (2010) 'Perceiving emotion in crowds: The role of dynamic body postures on the perception of emotion in crowded scenes'. Experimental Brain Research, 204 (3):361-372. [DOI]
2012 McHugh, J.E., Kearney, G., Rice, H. & Newell, F. (2012) 'The sound of the crowd: Auditory information modulates the perceived emotion of a crowd based on bodily expressions'. Emotion, 12 (1):120-131. [DOI]
2012 Schnittger, R.I.B., Walsh, C.D., Casey, A.M., Wherton, J.P., McHugh, J.E. & Lawlor, B.A. (2012) 'Psychological distress as a key component of psychosocial functioning in community dwelling older people'. Aging and Mental Health, 16 (2):199-207. [DOI]
2011 McHugh, J.E. & Lawlor, B.A. (2011) 'Living alone does not account for the association between loneliness and sleep in older adults. Health Psychology'. Health Psychology, 30 (2). [DOI]
2011 McHugh, J.E., Casey, A.M. & Lawlor, B.A. (2011) 'Psychosocial correlates of aspects of sleep quality in community-dwelling Irish older adults'. Aging and Mental Health, 15 (6):749-755. [DOI]
2012 McHugh, J.E., Fan, C.W., Kenny, R.A. & Lawlor, B.A. (2012). (2012) 'Orthostatic hypotension and subjective sleep quality in older people'. Aging and Mental Health, 16 (8):958-963. [DOI]
2012 McHugh, J.E., Wherton, J.P., Prendergast, D.K. & Lawlor, B.A. (2012) 'Identifying opportunities for supporting older caregivers of persons with dementia through information and communication technology'. Gerontechnology, 10 (4):220-230. [DOI]
2012 McHugh, J.E., Wherton, J.P., Prendergast, D.K. & Lawlor, B.A. (2012) 'Teleconferencing as a source of social support for older spousal caregivers: Initial explorations and recommendations for future research'. American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and other Dementias, 27 (6):382-388. [DOI]
2012 McHugh, J.E. & Lawlor, B.A. (2012) 'Exercise and social support are associated with psychological distress outcomes in a population of community-dwelling older adults'. Journal of Health Psychology, 17 (6):834-845. [DOI]
2012 McHugh, J.E., & Lawlor, B.A. (2012) 'Social support differentially moderates the impact of neuroticism and extraversion on mental wellbeing among community dwelling older adults'. Journal of Mental Health, 21 (5):448-458. [DOI]
2013 McHugh, J.E., Walsh, L.C. & Lawlor, B.A. (2013) 'Time to bed is associated with cognitive outcome: an analysis of sleep-times and wake-times in community-dwelling older adults'. Biological Rhythm Research, 45 (1):103-114. [DOI]
2013 McHugh, J.E. & Lawlor, B.A. (2013) 'Perceived stress mediates the relationship between emotional loneliness and sleep quality over time in older adults'. British Journal of Health Psychology, 18 (3):546-555. [DOI]
2013 McHugh, J.E. & Lawlor, B.A. (2013) 'Perceived health status is associated with hours of exercise per week in older adults independent of physical health'. Journal of physical activity & health, 10 (8):1102-1108. [DOI]
2013 King, M., Hu, F., McHugh, J.E., Murphy, E., Newman, E., Irving, K. & Smeaton, A. (2013) 'Visibility of wearable sensors as measured using eye tracking glasses'. Communications in Computer and Information Science, 413 . [DOI]
2014 McHugh, J.E., Lee, O., Aspell, N., Lawlor, B.A. & Brennan, S. (2014) 'A shared mealtime approach to improving social and nutritional functioning among older adults living alone: Study protocol for a randomised controlled trial'. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 21 (4). [DOI]
2014 McHugh, J.E., Lee, O., Lawlor, B.A. & Brennan, S. (2014) 'The meaning of mealtimes: Social and nutritional needs identified among older adults attending day services and by healthcare professionals'. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 30 (3). [DOI]
2015 McHugh, J.E. & Lawlor, B.A. (2015) 'Executive functioning independently predicts self-rated health and improvement in self-rated health over time among community-dwelling older adults'. Aging and Mental Health, 20 (4):415-422. [DOI]
2015 McHugh, J.E., Cunningham, C., Crosby,L. & Lawlor, B.A (2015) 'Self-rated health and reasons for ratings among Irish older adults'. Irish Journal of Psychology, 35 (4):205-215. [DOI]
2016 Dolan, C., McHugh, J.E. & Lawlor, B.A. (2016) 'Diabetes and brain health: Implications for practice'. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, 33 (3):179-191. [DOI]
2016 McHugh, J.E., Dowling, M., Butler, A. & Lawlor, B.A. (2016) 'Psychological distress and frailty transitions over time in community-dwelling older adults'. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, 33 (2):111-119. [DOI]
2016 McHugh, J.E. Lee, O., Aspell, N., Connolly, L., Brennan, S. & Lawlor, B.A. (2016) 'Peer volunteer perspectives following a complex social cognitive intervention: A qualitative investigation'. International Psychogeriatrics, 28 (9):1545-1554. [DOI]
2016 McHugh Power, J.E., Lee, O., Aspell, N., McCormack, E., Loftus, M., Connolly, L., Lawlor, B.A. & Brennan, S. (2016) 'Relate: Pilot study of the effects of a mealtime intervention on social cognitive factors and energy intake among older adults living alone'. British Journal of Nutrition, 116 (9):1573-1581. [DOI]
2016 McHugh Power, J.E., Kenny, R., Lawlor, B.A., Steptoe, A. & Kee, F. (2016) 'The discrepancy between social isolation and loneliness as a clinically meaningful metric: Findings from the Irish and English longitudinal studies of ageing (TILDA and ELSA)'. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 32 (6):664-674. [DOI]
2017 McHugh Power, J.E., Lawlor, B.A. and Kee, F. (2017) 'Social support mediates the relationships between extraversion, neuroticism, and cognitive function in older adults'. BMC Public Health, 147 (1):144-152. [DOI]
2017 McHugh Power, J.E., Hannigan, C., Carney, S. & Lawlor, B.A. (2017) 'Exploring the meaning of loneliness among socially isolated older adults in rural Ireland: a qualitative investigation'. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 14 (4):394-414. [DOI]
2017 Kelly, M.E., Duff, H., Kelly, S., McHugh Power, J.E., Brennan, S., Lawlor, B.A. & Loughrey, D.G. (2017) 'Social Relationships and Cognitive Functioning in Healthy Older Adults: A Systematic Review'. Systematic Reviews, 6 (1). [DOI]
2018 McHugh Power, J.E.,Tang, J., Kenny, R., Lawlor, B.A. & Kee, F. (2018) 'Mediators of the relationship between social activities and cognitive function among older Irish adults: Results from the Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing'. Aging and Mental Health, 22 (1):129-134. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2018 McHugh Power, J., Dolezal, L., Kee, F. & Lawlor, B.A. (2018) 'Conceptualising loneliness in health research: Philosophical and Psychological Ways Forward'. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 38 (4):219-234. [DOI] [Full-Text]

Conference Publication

Year Publication
2022 McHugh Power, J. (2022) EU Geriatric Medicine Society Annual Meeting The impact of befriending interventions on health-related quality of life: A single case experimental design study
2022 McHugh Power, J. (2022) Irish Gerontological Society Annual Meeting Befriending services are associated with less decline in health-related quality of life, but not cognitive function, over tim
2016 McHugh Power, J.E., Dolezal, L., Lawlor, B.A. & Kee, F. (2016) Cognitive Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society Annual Conference “Tuning” into cognitive function: Belongingness and cognitive functioning among participants of the Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing
2016 McHugh Power, J.E., Kenny, R.A., Kee, F. & Lawlor, B.A. (2016) Cognitive Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society Annual Conference Loneliness and global cognitive functioning: A cross-lagged analysis from the Irish Longitudinal Study of Ageing
2016 McHugh Power, J.E., Hannigan, C., Hyland, P., Kenny, R.A., Kee, F. & Lawlor, B.A. (2016) European Union Geriatric Medicine Society Annual Conference Emotional and social loneliness, and depressive symptomatology among adults aged over 50
2016 Dolezal, L., McHugh Power, J.E. & Carney, S. (2016) Institute of Public Health Open Conference Belongingness and Loneliness: Psychological and Philosophical Perspectives
2017 McHugh Power, J.E., Kenny, R.A., Lawlor, B.A., Kee, F. (2017) EU Geriatric Medicine Society Annual Conference Social asymmetry and psychological outcomes: Results from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing
2017 McHugh Power, J.E., Kee, F., Kenny, R.A., Lawlor, B.A. (2017) European Health Psychology Society Annual Conference Social asymmetry and physical health outcomes: Results from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing
2017 McHugh Power, J.E., Kee, F., Kenny, R.A. & Lawlor, B.A. (2017) Psychology, Health and Medicine Annual Conference (PSI Division of Health Psychology) The association between social asymmetry and self-rated health in community-dwelling participants of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing
2017 McHugh Power, J.E., Hannigan, C., Carney, S., Murphy, A., Moynihan, S., Kee, F. & Lawlor, B.A. (2017) Structured Population and Health-Services Research Education (SPHeRE) Annual Conference Targeting appropriate users of a befriending service: Recommendations from Qualitative and Quantitative Studies
2017 McHugh Power, J.E., Kee, F., Lawlor, B.A. & Steptoe, A. (2017) Alzheimer’s Association International Conference Loneliness, verbal fluency, and social engagement over time: A mediation analysis
2017 McHugh Power, J.E., Kee, F., Kenny, R., Lawlor, B.A. (2017) European Health Psychology Society Social asymmetry and physical health outcomes
2017 McHugh Power, J.E., Kenny, R., Lawlor, B.A. & Kee, F. (2017) EU Geriatric Medicine Society Annual Conference Social asymmetry and psychological outcomes: Findings from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing
2018 McHugh Power, J.E., Kee, F., Lawlor, B.A. & Kenny, R.A (2018) European Health Psychology Society Annual Conference Sleep, loneliness, and their impact on aspects of brain health
2019 McHugh Power, J.E. (2019) American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry Annual Conference Social Asymmetry predicts semantic memory decline in older adults

Letters

Year Publication
2021 Hyland P.;Vallières F.;McBride O.;Murphy J.;Shevlin M.;Bentall R.P.;Butter S.;Hartman T.K.;Karatzias T.;MacLachlan M.;Maguire R.;Power J.M.H.;Spikol E.;Daly M. (2021) Mental health of adults in Ireland during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic: Results from a nationally representative, longitudinal study. LETT [DOI] [Full-Text]
Certain data included herein are derived from the © Web of Science (2023) of Clarivate. All rights reserved.

Professional Associations

Description Function From / To
British Psychological Society Chartered Psychologist -
Interdem Member 01/10/2014 - 11/05/2020
I-LINK Member 02/03/2020 -

Honors and Awards

Date Title Awarding Body
01/12/2018 President's Award for Contribution to Research National College of Ireland

Outreach Activities

Description
Founding committee member of the ACN, which provides informal support for anyone affected by dementia