Dr Dominic McSherry is a developmental psychologist with over twenty years research leadership experience in early childhood adversity and mental health, and specialising in the areas of state care, adoption, and child neglect. He joined the School of Psychology in Ulster University in 2019 as Reader in Psychology (Mental Health), and is based in the Institute for Mental Health Sciences (IMHS).
He has been leading the ‘Care Pathways and Outcomes Study’ since 2003. This is a longitudinal prospective study that has been following a population (n=374) of children who were under the age of five and in care in Northern Ireland on the 31st March 2000. It is focused on illuminating the pathways that these children follow through and out of care, and how they and their parents and carers get on in comparative terms, across a range of longer-term placement outcomes, such as: foster care; kinship (with relatives) foster care; adoption; and rehabilitation to birth parents. The study is currently in its fourth wave, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and is located within the School of Psychology and IMHS at Ulster University. This is focused on understanding the lives of the young people and their parents/carers in their late teens and early adulthood, and trying to highlight what appears to help or hinder positive health and wellbeing across a range of psycho-social domains.
He recently led the ‘Mind Your Health’ study, which developed the first ever population-based profile of the physical and mental health needs of children and young people in care in Northern Ireland. He was also Principal Investigator on the 'Regional Variations Study', examining regional variations in the provision of long-term placements for children in care; and the 'At home in Care Study', examining the placement of children at home with their birth parents on a Care Order. In total, he has been awarded over £3 million in external research funding as Principal Investigator.
He has successfully supervised several PhD students. Some recent examples are:
Fiona Cronin (2015). Care experiences - calm and settled, disrupted and chaotic, or somewhere in between? An examination of the levels of movement of young people in care in two HSE integrated services areas in Ireland.
Mandi MacDonald (2014). "Being" and "doing" - Adoptive parents' experience of parenthood in the context of open adoption: An interpretative phenomenological analysis. This was an ESRC CASE studentship awarded to Dr McSherry in 2007. The sample for the project was recruited from adoptive families within the Care Pathways and Outcomes study population.
Libby Ashurst (2012). Developing and testing a general training model for improved professional practice of case workers: Using practitioners working with young people displaying sexually harmful behaviour for an exemplar.