Projects per year
My research revolves around the early experiences that explain differences in children’s adaptation and socio-cognitive abilities. I approach these issues applying a transactional approach: this allows to investigate how interactions between children's characteristics and modifiable environmental factors can affect children's developmental pathways.
I have worked on longitudinal studies of childhood (the Cardiff Child Development Study) and adolescence (the Belfast Youth Development Study), investigating the association between exposure to maternal depression and children’s learning abilities; early signs of aggressive behaviour in childhood; risk factors for ADHD; family and school-level factors affecting adolescent’s substance use and offending behaviour.
I have expertise in advanced quantitative methods applied to longitudinal studies and RCTs.
Since 2014 I have led a population register of children with Cerebral Palsy (CP), the Northern Ireland CP Register and gained expertise in population studies of children with disability and developmental problems. In this capacity, I have led a study investigating changes in risk factors for CP disabilities across Europe (Perra et al., Archives of Childhood Disability).
Working in inter-disciplinary research centres I have gained expertise in implementing and evaluating child- and family-friendly interventions for at-risk children. I have successfully completed an externally funded feasibility study of an early computerised cognitive training programme: This is the first ever cognitive training programme targeting early cognitive abilities of infants born very preterm.
Chair of the School Research Ethics Committee, School of Nursing & Midwifery, between 2014 and 2018.
Currently funded research projects:
Perra O. & Kerr C. (2014-2022). The Northern Ireland Cerebral Palsy Register. Public Health Agency
Perra O., Alderdice F., Wass S., Clarke M., McNulty A., Sweet D., & Papageorgiou K. (2018-2021). A feasibility study of the Attention Control Training (ACT) intervention amongst very preterm (VP) infants. Enabling Research Award, Public Health Agency - HSC Research & Development Division.
Completed research projects:
G. Macdonald, F. Alderdice, M.Clarke, O.Perra, F.Lynn (2016-2018). Right from the start: A pilot study for a randomised trial of the New Baby Programme for improving outcomes for children born to socially vulnerable mothers. Opportunity-led research reseach funded by Public Health Agency.
Garcia-Jalon, G., Perra, O., Thurston, A., Gavin, A., & O’Reilly, D. (2016). Exploring the problem of pain in the Cerebral Palsy population: Piloting a big data approach. Improving Children’s Lives small grant scheme. Queen’s University Belfast.
Kathryn Higgins, Oliver Perra, Mark McCann, Claire McCartan, Aisling McLaughlin (2012-2015). Offending behaviour amongst young people in Northern Ireland: A study of neighbourhood, family, school and peer processes. Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) grant (£ 265,253) awarded to Queen’s University Belfast.
Aisling McLaughlin, Kathryn Higgins, Andrew Percy, & Oliver Perra (2012-2014). Parental alcohol use and resilience. Health and Social Care Northern Ireland grant (£ 191,921) awarded to Queen’s University Belfast.
Kathryn Higgins, Oliver Perra, Mark McCann, Claire McCartan, & Aisling McLaughlin (2012). Parenting and school level effects: Secondary analysis examining alcohol use trajectories in the context of parental monitoring and school environment. Alcohol Research UK small research grant (£ 35,000) awarded to Queen’s University Belfast.
Kathryn Higgins, Oliver Perra, Mark McCann, Claire McCartan, & Aisling McLaughlin (2011). lcohol and the affluence paradox: A secondary analysis exploring the health disparities surrounding adolescent alcohol use and alcohol related harm in adulthood. Alcohol Education Research Council. Small Research Grant (£4,700) awarded to Queen’s University.
Geraldine MacDonald, Laura Dunne, Paula Donaghy, Oliver Perra, et al. (2010). Evaluation of the ready to learn cluster randomised controlled trial. Barnardo’s evaluation project (£ 418,244) awarded to Queen’s University Belfast.
Oliver Perra (2006-2007). Early social competencies in infancy. Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Post-Doctoral Fellowship award (£ 29,926) to Cardiff University.
Merideth Gattis (PI), Oliver Perra (co-author), (2001-2003). Early imitation and gaze following. Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Research Grant (£37,000) awarded to the University of Sheffield.
My teaching has included convening of modules on child development and atypical child development for master students, as well as research methods and evidence-based practice for undergraduate students. I have teach quantitative methods, e.g. a course on Latent Transition Analysis during the “Training in Latent Variable Modelling” programme supported by the ESRC, and an introductory course on Stata.
2016-2022- Supervisor for Nursing Master students's dissertations (Module NUR 7009).
Evidence-Based Midwifery 1, Level 1, BSc Midwifery Studies (Teaching Evaluations 2022: 4.3/5)
Evidence-Based Practice Literacy in The Integrated Midwifery Knowledge module, Level 3, BSc Midwifery Sciences (2022)
Evidence-Based Practice Literacy in The Integrated Midwifery Knowledge module, Level 3, BSc Midwifery Sciences (2021)
Evidence-Based Practice Literacy in The Contemporary Midwife Practitioner module, Level 3, BSc Midwifery Studies (2021)
Evidence-Based Midewifery 2, Level 2, BSc Midwifery Sciences (2020)
Evidence-Based Practice Literacy in The Integrated Midwifery Knowledge module, Level 3, BSc Midwifery Sciences (Teaching Evaluations 2020, score 4.8/5)
Evidence-Based Practice Literacy in The Contemporary Midwife Practitioner module, Level 3, BSc Midwifery Studies (2020)
Evidence-Based Practice Literacy in The Integrated Midwifery Knowledge module, Level 3, BSc Midwifery Sciences (Teaching Evaluations 2019, score 4.8/5)
Evidence-Based Practice Literacy in The Contemporary Midwife Practitioner module, Level 3, BSc Midwifery Studies (Teaching Evaluations 2018, score 4.7/5)
Evidence-Based Practice Literacy in The Integrated Midwifery Knowledge module, Level 3, BSc Midwifery Sciences (Teaching Evaluations 2018, score 5/5)
Evidence-Based Nursing 2 module, Level 2, BSc Nursing
My projects have been funded by grants from the ESRC, Alcohol Research UK, and the Northern Ireland government (OFMDFM), among others.
I am currently running a feasibility study of an attention training programme involving very preterm infants, funded by PHA-R&D Division. The study adapts a programme developed by my collaborator, Sam Wass (UEL), to train preterm infants’ ability to control attention. Attention control may provide these infants with the building blocks for developing further learning skills.
I am the co-PI of the Northern Ireland Cerebral Palsy Register, a register of all children with this condition in Northern Ireland funded by PHA. I am using this database to develop data-linkage research projects and investigate key risk factors, and the processes that may explain differences in developmental outcomes of these children.
I have expertise in the application of advanced quantitative methods to longitudinal analyses (e.g. multilevel hierarchical models; latent growth models; etc.) and in the evaluation of Randomised Controlled Trials.
I am a developmental psychologist with expertise in quantitative research methods and advanced statistics. My research interests lie in the mechanisms that explain individual differences in children's and adolescents’ behaviour (e.g. aggressive behaviour), their abilities to learn from others (e.g. the ability to imitate), and the development of early interventions involving at-risk groups (e.g. infants born very preterm).
My research has been consistently published in the top quartile of peer-reviewed journals in my discipline, e.g. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines (SNIP 2.224; SJR 3.305), Addiction (SNIP 2.037; SJR 2.777), Development and Psychopathology (SNIP 1.123; SJR 1.685). My research was returned in the 2014 REF and in the 2021 REF.
I have also disseminated my research internationally through invited talks and workshops (e.g. MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow; Child Psychiatry Unit, Brotzu Hospital, University of Cagliari, Sardinia Italy; Kore University, Enna, Sicily, Italy).
My conference presentations are to major international audiences in the fields of developmental psychology and public health (e.g. International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions Meeting; invited talks at the Surveillance of Cerebral Palsy in Europe meeting).
Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals
In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):
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Select a country/territory to view shared publications and projects
16/01/2017 → …
R4737NUR: An evaluation of health & social care professional's family focused practice with parents who have mental illness, their children and families in adult mental health and children's services in Northern Ireland
11/11/2015 → …
Attention and social communication skills of very preterm infants after training attention control: Bayesian analyses of a feasibility studyPerra, O., Alderdice, F., Sweet, D., McNulty, A., Johnston, M., Bilello, D., Papageorgiou, K. & Wass, S., 22 Sep 2022, In: PLoS ONE. 17, 9, e0273767.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-reviewOpen AccessFile8 Downloads (Pure)
The Surveillance Of Cerebral Palsy Europe Group And The Australian Cerebral Palsy Register Group, 01 Jun 2021, In: Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology. 63, 6, p. 712-720
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-reviewOpen AccessFile85 Downloads (Pure)
Complex childhood trauma, gender and depression: Patterns and correlates of help-seeking and maladaptive copingCurran, E., Perra, O., Rosato, M., Ferry, F. & Leavey, G., 01 Sep 2021, In: Journal of Affective Disorders. 292, p. 603-613
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-reviewFile35 Downloads (Pure)
Correction to: Very preterm infants engage in an intervention to train their control of attention: results from the feasibility study of the attention control training (ACT) randomised trialPerra, O., Wass, S., McNulty, A., Sweet, D., Papageorgiou, K. A., Johnston, M., Bilello, D., Patterson, A. & Alderdice, F., 11 Nov 2021, In: Pilot and Feasibility Studies. 7, 201.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Comment/debate › peer-reviewOpen AccessFile19 Downloads (Pure)
García Jalón, E. G., Maguire, A., Perra, O., Gavin, A., O’Reilly, D. & Thurston, A., Sep 2021, In: Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology. 63, 9, p. 1085-1092 8 p.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-reviewOpen AccessFile
Perra, Oliver (Recipient), 2006
Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively
Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)
23 Feb 2022
Activity: Consultancy types › Contribution to the work of national or international committees and working groups
Oliver Perra (Participant)2022
Activity: Participating in or organising an event types › Participation in workshop, seminar, course
Press / Media
Improving the health of children with Cerebral Palsy through surveillance, development of guidelines, and internationally-adopted diagnostic tools.
Oliver Perra (Participant)
Impact: Health Impact, Public Service Impact, Quality of Life Impact
Oliver Perra (Participant)
Impact: Public Policy Impact