Meet our Fellows

Fellows List

Dr Phil Smyth: Outgoing Fellow

Project Title: Assisting people with intellectual disability to self-manage healthy lifestyle choices

Host Institution: University of Ulster (2 yrs), return phase NUI Galway 1 year

Host PI: Dr Claire McDowell & Prof Julian Leslie UU, Dr Geraldine Leader, NUIG

Home Institution: Dundalk Institute of Technology


Summary: The prevalence of obesity in people with intellectual disability (ID) is even higher than in the general population in both parts of Ireland. Assistive Technology (e.g., apps delivered via smart phone or tablet) has been developed to support weight reduction in general. In effect, these apps help manage weight control interventions through the use of behavioural antecedent and consequence strategies, but they may not provide a suitable user interface for people with ID. The goal of this project is to support a healthy lifestyle with off-the-shelf (OTS) assistive technology combined with a novel self-management intervention to provide an ID specific weight management programme. The project will combine best features of behaviour management, state-of-the-art IT and health psychology to create a multicomponent intervention tailored to the needs of individuals. The behavioural intervention packages created will be of use to the community supporting people with ID after the project has finished.


This research will:

  • Carry-out qualitative study with focus groups identifying environmental variables that inhibit healthy lifestyle choices;
  • Develop an information and training sequence to increase healthy behaviours and self-management through using Assistive Technology;
  • Implementation of a treatment plan incorporating Assistive Technology using a multiple baseline design;



Fellow Bio

Dr Phil Smyth’s research and clinical work has utilised applied behaviour analytical programmes in the areas of education, habilitation and behaviour support of people with ASD, ID and Mental Health diagnoses. Since obtaining her PhD in 2004 she has practiced in early intervention education settings, adult day services, and residential & respite settings for children and adults with disabilities. The post she held prior to the AssistID fellowship involved developing and implementing behavioural interventions for people with ID, ASD and Mental Health who engage in Behaviours That Challenge. Dr Smyth has published in international journals and presented at national and international conferences.