Professor Hickey is a health psychologist and professor of psychology at the Department of Health Psychology, RCSI. She is involved in coordinating and teaching health psychology to health professionals at undergraduate and postgraduate level, including medical, physiotherapy and pharmacy students. She has extensive experience of teaching and research in healthcare, particularly in the area of stroke and stroke rehabilitation, development of complex interventions for clinical settings, and related health services challenges. Professor Hickey’s research is particularly focussed on research with stroke patient and carer populations, and in the area of adverse events associated with hospital care. This focus and expertise has lent itself to the area of method development, including development of the Stroke Awareness Questionnaire (SAQ) and, as part of a research team, development of the Ageing Perceptions Questionnaire (APQ) and the Schedule for the Evaluation of Individual Quality of Life (SEIQoL), an individualised measure of quality of life that has received international acclaim. Since her faculty appointment in 2002, she has published almost 100 journal articles in leading peer-reviewed international journals, numerous reports for government departments and health charities, and supervised over 20 post-graduate students.
Professor Hickey is Principal Investigator of the StrokeCog study, a programme of research focussed on cognitive impairment and dementia after stroke. This research programme involves development of epidemiological and economic models of post-stroke cognitive impairment and dementia, and development of an intervention for rehabilitation of stroke-related cognitive impairment. The study aims to model the progression, costs and outcomes of cognitive impairment after stroke, introduce and pilot-test a post-stroke cognitive intervention, and evaluate the cost-effectiveness of this and alternative hypothetical interventions. Funded by the Health Research Board (HRB) this study commenced in 2016 and concludes in late 2020.
Professor Hickey served as co-Director of the SPHeRE (Structured Population and Health-services Research Education) Programme, a national structured PhD training programme in population health and health-services research. With RCSI as the host institution, the SPHeRE Programme is run collaboratively between the Division of Population Health Sciences, RCSI, the Department of Health Policy and Management, TCD and the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health Medicine, UCC. This national programme, funded by the HRB, commenced with a focus on health-services research in 2007 (as the HRB Scholars Programme), with SPHeRE expanding the original focus to include Population Health research, commencing in 2013 and extending currently to 2024. Since its inception, close to 60 scholars have completed their doctoral awards and over 50 scholars who are currently registered on the programme. As well as co-directing the Programme, Professor Hickey teaches and supervises scholars on this programme. Professor Hickey has just completed her tenure as Head of Division of Population Sciences in RCSI and has previously served as Chair of the Division of Health Psychology of the Psychological Society of Ireland, Chair of the Scientific Affairs Board of the Psychological Society of Ireland, and as a member of the Council of the Psychological Society of Ireland. She served a term as Irish national delegate to the European Health Psychology Society (EHPS). She is the Training and Education lead of the Stroke Clinical Trials Network of Ireland (SCTNI), and a member of the Network Operating Group (the core management team) of the SCTNI.
Professor Hickey is Deputy Dean for Positive Education at RCSI. This role involves educational transformation to include principles of positive psychology at all levels in RCSI. Integration of principles of positive education will emphasise the importance of training students to develop skills of self-awareness, resilience and well-being, as well as understanding the core knowledge base and development of clinical skills, drawing on positive psychology’s emphasis on individual strengths and personal motivation to promote learning.