Lecturer and Research Fellow

Division: Occupational Therapy & Arts Therapies

Tel: 0131 474 0000

Dr Donald Maciver (PHD, BSc) is a Lecturer and Research Fellow in the Division of Occupational Therapy and Arts Therapies. He is also a full member of the Centre for Applied Social Sciences.

Donald completed his undergraduate training in Occupational Therapy and holds a PHD in Health Sciences. He currently holds positions with the QMU Occupational Therapy teaching team and with the Scottish Government funded National Autism Implementation Team (NAIT), who are hosted at QMU. He has previously held Programme Leader and lecturing roles at QMU and has extensive experience of research leadership and national and international collaboration.

Donald’s key focus is children’s participation and inclusion, with special interests in neurodevelopmental disorders (including autism); mental health; family research; additional support needs/special educational needs; intervention/treatment; early intervention; and school based interventions.

He has published in excess of 50 scientific papers, book chapters and practice support materials for health and education professionals. He has experience as a PhD supervisor and academic mentor. Donald’s research has been in collaboration with diverse partners including: Scottish Government; NHS Lothian; City of Edinburgh Council; the Royal College of Occupation Therapists; University of Edinburgh; and academic partners from Europe, Australia, the USA and Japan.

From 2008 onwards Donald was a lead researcher at Queen Margaret University in development of the CIRCLE Collaboration a highly successful initiative which has used modern methods of intervention development to define systematic and theory-driven approaches for inclusion and participation of children with additional support needs in schools. CIRCLE represents universal good practice for early years, primary and secondary schools and has been adopted by health and education providers in Scotland and across the world. Donald leads an international network of innovation and collaboration using CIRCLE and other methods to support change in schools for children.

Affiliations/Memberships to Other Organisations:

British Association of Occupational Therapists 2005-present

Health and Care Professions Council 2005-present

British Association of Childhood Disability 2014-present

International Association for the Study of Pain 2004-2008

British Pain Society 2002-2008


Professional Social Media:




Google Scholar


Research/Knowledge Exchange Centre Membership:

Full member of Centre for Applied Social Sciences

Dr Maciver’s focus on investigating participation of children was established early in his career and he has developed a body of research understanding the lives of children and their participation in everyday activity.  Related child and family research has also focused on autism, mental health, parent experiences, school based interventions/assessments, post school outcomes, and employment. A hallmark of Dr Maciver’s research is collaboration between University, NHS and Education providers leading to long-standing partnerships and impacts.

Active Research Interests

Current research aims to impact directly on children’s lives, focusing on understanding and improving outcomes for children and young people with additional support needs. Recent work has focussed on understanding participation outcomes for school age children, diagnosis and assessment guidelines for paediatric neurodevelopmental services, and analysis of waiting times for children and adults seeking neurodevelopmental assessment. Donald’s research aims to have a robust impact via the development of assessment tools and interventions. Enquiry grounded in the social model of disability is a key focus.

Research Methods

  • Complex interventions development
  • Qualitative research
  • Evaluation
  • Realist evaluation
  • Meta-analysis
  • Systematic review
  • Realist synthesis
  • Psychometrics
  • Assessment development
  • Cohort studies and secondary data analysis
  • Participatory action research

Dr Maciver lectures in various areas of focus, to include, models of practice and research methodology, research-informed and critical perspectives, interdisciplinary teaching for occupational therapy, allied health and education professionals and supporting practitioners to develop advanced skills in inclusion, participation and collaborative working. Donald also supervises doctoral students and is happy to be contacted by potential students with ideas for doctoral research.


Vice-Chair of the Research and Development Board, the College of Occupational Therapists 2009-2012

Elected Member, Editorial Board, the British Journal of Occupational Therapy, College of Occupational Therapists 2012-2015