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Aoife Marie Foran


Qualifications: Bachelor of Arts (1st Hons) in Psychology and Sociology, University of Limerick

Proposed PhD Title:  Harnessing groups for health: Eating disorder recovery as supported by everyday connections.

PhD Supervisors: Dr Aisling O’Donnell & Prof Orla Muldoon


Aoife completed the BA in Psychology and Sociology in UL and graduated with a first class honours in August 2018. She subsequently began a PhD by research in the Department of Psychology in September 2018.

Project Description:

Eating disorders (ED) are more prevalent than we are led to believe, and have the highest mortality rates of all mental health disorders. People as young as 8 years old are diagnosed with EDs, and the prevalence rates continue to rise. Recovery from an ED is possible, but without the right support system, it is a locked door. There is an increasing understanding that everyday social supports are crucial to recovery from mental health problems. Paradoxically, it is the demand for support services that continues to grow. Research shows that people with EDs are often stigmatised for having the disorder, and this is likely to act as a barrier to help-seeking behaviours and recovery. Comparatively, social connections through group memberships are known to offer social support with a positive impact on recovery-related outcomes. To date, understanding of how group processes influence ED recovery is limited. Therefore, this research explores a social solution to what is currently an overly medicalised approach to ED recovery, by showing how everyday groups can help, or hinder, recovery. This timely research will show the role of naturally occurring supportive groups in sustaining ED recovery rates.

Project Funding:

PhD Studentship Award 2019, Department of Psychology, University of Limerick.


Foran, AM., O’Donnell, A., Muldoon, O. (in press). Stigma of eating disorders and recovery-related outcomes: A systematic review. European Eating Disorders Review.

Awards and Honours:

  • University of Limerick Presidential List for exceptional academic performance and QCA in five semesters (Autumn and Spring 14/15, Spring 16/17, Autumn and Spring 17/18)
  • Faculty of Education and Health Sciences Postgraduate Conference Funding Bursary (Dec 2019)


Teaching assistant on undergraduate and postgraduate modules, Department of Psychology, University of Limerick

  • PS4041 Practical Psychology 1
  • PS4052Practical Psychology 2
  • PS4034/PS6022 Empirical Psychology
  • PS4045 Advanced Research Methods
  • PS4062 Introduction to Psychology Applied to Nursing and Midwifery

Module leader, Transition to University Course, Access Office, University of Limerick

  • AS2342 Transition to University


Course: Structured Ph.D.

Role: PhD Student