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Associate Professor Rachael McDonald

Department Chair-Health & Medical Sciences
PhD, University of London, United Kingdom; BAppSc(OT), University of South Australia, Australia

Biography

Associate Professor Rachael McDonald is a clinical, research and teaching Health Professional with an interest in enabling people with lifelong disabilities to participate in life situations. She has worked extensively in this field, with in both children’s services and adult settings.  She supervises research (honour’s, MSc and PhD) students specialising in the care of people with complex disability as well as development and evaluation into the effectiveness of assistive technologies, and has published widely. She has qualifications in occupational therapy, biomechanics and higher education in addition to her Doctorate which was an exploration of the acceptability and effectiveness of adaptive seating systems in wheelchairs for children with cerebral palsy.  She previously held a joint appointment with the Department of Occupational Therapy and the Centre for Developmental Disability Health Victoria at Monash University. Her role at CDDHV included health professional education and leading research activities, whereas her interest in using technology as an enabler but also as a tool for collecting objective evidence was a feature of her occupational therapy research.  This interest has led to her recent appointment as the Chair, Department of Health and Medical Science at Swinburne University of Technology, where this research is developing further.

Research interests

Community participation; Disability; Assistive Technology; Wheeled mobility and seating; Occupational Therapy; Disruptive Technology; Intellectual Disability; Cerebral Palsy; Wheelchair

PhD candidate and honours supervision

Higher degrees by research

Accredited to supervise Masters & Doctoral students as Principal Coordinating Supervisor.

PhD topics and outlines

Addressing barriers to health and health care for people with intellectual disabilities: People with intellectual disabilities face serious health inequities that should be preventable.  The reasons for this are unclear, but recent work has demonstrated that this group die much earlier than their non disabled peers. This body of work involves investigation of cause of ill health and lack of access to appropriate and vigorous healthcare as well as investigations to improve this.

Cause and treatement of Osteoporosis in Women with Disability: This project works with key industry partners and government agencies to investigate and design both data collection tools and potential interventions for people (particularly women) with disabilities.  

Economic Benefits of Universal Design and Access for people with disabilities: With the advent of the NDIS, people with disablities will have opportunities for equitable access to social and economic participation.  This research topic investigates the economic and other advantages of accessibility for persons living with disability, as well as interventions to ensure that this occurs.  

Sensor based technologies to measure activity and particiaption of wheeled mobility users: People who use wheeled mobility often face environmental and other barriers to participating in the community, work and the like.  This project seeks to find objective measurements using sensor based technologies to design interventions to improve this.

Using new technologies to enhance participation for peope with intellectual disabilities: The emergence of smart phone and other technologies enable a new way to enhance participation and social inclusion for people with disabilities; yet the potential and effectiveness has not been objectively measured.

Honours

Available to supervise honours students.

Honours topics and outlines

Economic Evaluation of Accessible Environments : People with disabilities face barriers to social and economic participation.  One way to influence this is to measur the social and economic benefits to society of universal access. 

Global Priorities in Assistive Technology: The World Health Organisation has identified a global research agenda in assistive technology for people with disabilities.  This project seeks to investigate how these priorities resonate with people with disablities, and identify gaps and interventions.

Women with Disability and Menopause: Working with industry partners, including government agencies and disability service providers, this project aims to discover gaps in services and propose education, intervention and review practices for supporting women with disabilities through this life stage.

Fields of Research

  • Clinical Sciences - 110300
  • Public Health And Health Services - 111700

Teaching areas

Biomedical science;Health Promotion;Occupational Therapy;Assistive Technology;Health Science

Publications

Also published as: McDonald, Rachael; McDonald, R.; McDonald, R. L.; McDonald, Rachael L.; McDonald, Rachael Leigh
This publication listing is provided by Swinburne Research Bank. If you are the owner of this profile, contact us to update.

Recent research grants awarded

  • 2016: Design the Evaluation of GP Education Guidelines *; Department of Health and Human Services Fund Scheme

* Chief Investigator


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