Senior Lecturer


Division: Occupational Therapy & Arts Therapies

Tel: 0131 474 0000

Susan Prior (Dip, PG Cert, BSc) is a Senior Lecturer in the Occupational Therapy & Arts Therapies Division and a part of the Firefly Research Unit. She is also an affiliate member of the Centre for Applied Social Sciences.

Susan Prior is an experience occupational therapist and researcher. Susan qualified from Queen Margaret College in 1993 and began working in the NHS. She has worked across a wide range of mental health services in Scotland and England from high and medium security forensic services to community rehabilitation. During her clinical career Susan’s priorities were always working with service users to find opportunities and support people to participate in meaningful life roles, engaging with evidence based practice and standardised measures ensured service users strengths and needs were recognised and outcomes could be measures. Susan’s interest in evidence based practice and the Model of Human Occupation led to opportunities to lead practice development activities in the NHS and to join the Queen Margaret University teaching team in a practitioner-lecturer role.

In 2008 Susan was appointed as a Lead Research Practitioner at Queen Margaret University to lead a participatory action research initiative redesigning vocational rehabilitation services for people with complex and enduring mental health problems. Recognizing that engagement in employment is often a goal of service users in their own recovery journey providing a great opportunity for clients to participate in society and achieve aspirations in their own recovery journey. In this post she worked closely with clinicians and service users in the NHS.

Susan continues to develop this research interest in vocational rehabilitation through efficacy studies and with new populations. Current research is focused on understanding psychosocial variables which are predictive of service users expressing desire to obtain employment and of eventual employment related outcome. Susan works closely with clinical service in the UK and collaborates with a network of international researchers with similar interests in the Model of Human Occupation and Vocational Rehabilitation. Susan is significantly progressed in her own doctoral studies.

Affiliations/Memberships to Other Organisations:

  • British Association of Occupational Therapists 1993-present
  • Health and Care Professions Council 1993-present

Professional Social Media:

Research/Knowledge Exchange Centre Membership:

Susan is generating high quality research within the Vocational Rehabilitation Field. This has an emphasis on developing a theoretical body of work with practical therapeutic applications. This body of research was initially generated through use of qualitative methodology to explore service user experiences, then developed action research methodologies to support services be evidence based in their vocational rehabilitation provision, and laterally is applying statistical methods to test vocational rehabilitation interventions and predictors of outcome.  

Active Research Interests:

  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Model of Human Occupation
  • Evidence Based Supported Employment
  • Mental Health
  • Veterans

Research Methods:

  • Participatory Action Research
  • Systematic reviews
  • Meta synthesis
  • Meta analysis
  • Prospective cohort studies
  • Multiple logistic regression modelling

Research method contributions to the postgraduate occupational therapy programme.

2013 Advancing Healthcare Award

  • ActiVate Collaboration methodologies underpinned being short listed for the Advanced Healthcare Awards in the category of “Improving Quality: measuring and demonstrating impact"

2012 NHS Celebrating Success Award

  • The ActiVate Collaboration, were finalists in the award category of “Best Service Redesign”. This was in recognition of service user engagement in research process that led to fundamental service changes.


International Mentor in Model of Human Occupation. Model of Human Occupation International Institute, Chicago 2011, Stockholm 2013, Japan 2014.

British Association of Occupational Therapists – Scottish Board Member 2013 – 2014


Research Susan has led has been influential in impacting on Scottish Government Policy development for vocational rehabilitation services, national services for vocational rehabilitation and vocational rehabilitation professionals and services users themselves.

Susan has been an active member of the Scottish Government led AHPs in Vocational Rehabilitation (Mental Health) Network.

Our research and associated vocational rehabilitation service are cited as strong examples of evidence based practice in several Strategy Documents.

Scottish Government (2011) Realising Work Potential; Defining the Contribution of Allied Health Professionals to Vocational Rehabilitation in Mental Health Services

Scottish Government (2012) Realising Potential: Our Own and Others

Scottish Government (2012) Mental Health Strategy for Scotland: 2012-2015

Susan and clinical colleagues have made several presentations to vocational rehabilitation leads and employability leads from Scottish Health Boards and to the Scottish Government Health Works department to promote adoption of evidence based intervention nationally.