Dr Orla McBride


School of Psychology

Coleraine campus

Room H249,
Cromore Road,
Co. Londonderry,
BT52 1SA,

Psychology Research


Dr Orla McBride


Orla is a Reader in Psychology at Ulster University. Orla graduated with a BSc (Hons) Applied Psychology (2:1), Ulster University (2005) and a PhD at Ulster University (2008). Orla obtained a PgCert in Higher Education Practice (2010) from Ulster University. She is currently undertaking a PgDip in Epidemiology distance learning at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Orla has held international research posts in the US and Australia, which has resulted in the establishment of a wide international collaboration. Over the last 15 years, she was worked with a wide range of social science data sources including cross-sectional and longitudinal surveys (e.g., the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Surveys and the UK Household Longitudinal Survey), health administrative data (e.g., the NHS Digital Mental Health Minimum Dataset), and linked administrative data (e.g., the Northern Ireland Morbidity Survey).

Research Focus Study director for the Northern Ireland strand of the ESRC-funded Early Life Cohort Feasibility Study (ELC-FS).

Research Interests

Administrative data; survey data; adult public mental health.

Research Awards

Since 2012, Orla has contributed to securing research funding (>£7M) from the NIHR and the ESRC. Orla has authored over 100 research papers, which have been published in high quality, reputable journals (h-index=35, August 2023). ESRC. Survey Data Collection Methods Collaboration: Securing the Future of Social Surveys. (ES/X014150/1). Funds awarded. £3M (June 2023-2026). PI Peter Lynn (Essex). Role: Co-Investigator.

ESRC. Early Life Cohort Feasibility Study (ES/V016814/1). Funds awarded: £3M (April 2021-December 2023). PI Alissa Goodman (UCL). Role: Co-Investigator.

ESRC. A longitudinal mixed-methods population study of the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic: Psychological and social adjustment to a global threat. Funds awarded: £304,695 (June 2020-December 2021). PI. Richard Bentall (Sheffield). Role: Co-Investigator.

ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative (SDAI). Learning disability and Northern Ireland: Achieving proportionate universalism through administrative data research. Funds awarded: £155,303 (October 2017-December 2020 – extended due to COVID-19). PI: Jamie Murphy (Ulster). Role: Co-Investigator.

NIHR HS&DR 14/70 May 2014 HS&DR Researcher-led (Standard). Evaluating the Effects of Community Treatment Orders (CTOs) in England Using the Mental Health Minimum Dataset (March 2016). Funds awarded: £377,042 (24 months). PI: Scott Weich (Sheffield). Role: Co-Investigator.

Prevalence Study of Children's Mental Health (funded NI Health and Social Care Board 2019-2020; £800K).

Orla was awarded the Distinguished Research Fellowship for the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences 2021-22.

Discipline & Research Leadership Positions

Orla served as a Handling Editor for Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology (2016-19). She has been on the Editorial board of Addiction since 2016, first as an Assistant/Associate Editor and then as a Senior Editor (since 2020). Orla is an expert reviewer for the NIHR, ESRC, MRC and for many leading mental health journals.


Orla coordinates and teaches on PSY562 Applied Psychology: Mental Health Practices. She also contributes to PSY105 Introduction to Research Methods. She coordinates the School of Psychology’s Annual Research Methods and Statistics Summer School.

Students have nominated Orla for her Excellence in Learning and Teaching and Research Supervision at the UUSU Learning and Teaching Awards. Orla obtained Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA) in 2017 in recognition of her leadership in the fields of digital literacy, and in creative and innovative curriculum design and delivery.

Research Supervision

Orla mainly supervises students and PhD Researchers to use statistical models to analyse quantitative data from large-scaled cross-sectional and longitudinal population health surveys and routinely collected administrative data.

Current PhD students

  • Oisin Cleary
  • Zoe Campbell
  • Zachary Glaser
  • Caitlyn Rawers
  • Amy Reid
  • Stephen Waite
  • Recently Graduated PhD Students
  • Enya Redican
  • Laura Kenny
  • Nicole Miller
  • Ngozi Anyadike-Danes

Administrative Roles and Memberships

Orla is the Postgraduate Tutor for the School of Psychology since 2020. Orla is an elected member of the University’s Research and Innovation/Impact Committee. Orla is a member of the Self-Assessment Team for the School’s Athena Swan Bronze and Silver Awards (2017 and 2021, respectively).

Community Impact

Orla’s research has involved working with various stakeholders and third sector organisations including National Children’s Bureau, First 1001 Days Movement, Fatherhood Institute.

Research Opportunities

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