Professor Alastair Macdonald

Job Title:

Senior Researcher, School of Design


School of Design



Professor Alastair Macdonald
image - still from Envisage rehab project

Professor Alastair Macdonald


Professor Alastair Macdonald

Professor Alastair Macdonald is Senior Researcher at the GSA's School of Design and heads a dedicated team of researchers with a focus on design research within health and care. He is the design research lead for several inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional projects encompassing healthcare service design innovation using participative co-design methods and processes, and innovative visualisation methods.

These include: 

SEED: Supporting Excellence in End of life care in Dementia via an integrated care pathway.
Supporting professionals, both commissioners and providers, to deliver good quality, community-based end of life care in dementia. The project’s key outputs include: i) an approach to individual care planning (ICP) for end of life care in dementia; ii) educational resources to support the use of ICP; iii) commissioning guidance for clinical commissioners.


A demonstration prototype for an innovative food and nutrition management system designed to address malnutrition issues in hospital patients, supported through an ESRC New Dynamics of Ageing research grant.


Macdonald. A.S., Teal, G., Bamford, C., and Moynihan, P.J. (2012) Hospitalfoodie: an inter-professional case study of the redesign of the nutritional management and monitoring system for vulnerable older hospital patients. Quality in Primary Care 2012 May; 20(3): 169-177.
Macdonald, A.S. (2012) Wicked problems: design approaches in complex healthcare Scenarios. Innovation, Industrial Designers Society of America. Winter 2012: 39-42.

A means to promote independence by involving users in their physical rehabilitation through the use of visualisation methods. This work has been supported by the ESPRC’s Extending Quality of Life (EQUAL), the ESRC’s New Dynamics of Ageing and currently the MRC’s Lifelong Health and Wellbeing programmes.


Loudon, D., Macdonald, A.S., Carse, B., Thikey, H., Jones, L., Rowe, P.J., Uzor, S., Ayoade, M., and Baillie, L. (2012) Developing visualisation software for rehabilitation: investigating the requirements of patients, therapists and the rehabilitation process. Health Informatics Journal, 18(3) 171-180. Sage.
Loudon, D., Carse, B., and Macdonald, A.S. (2011). Investigating the use of visualisations of biomechanics in physical rehabilitation. In M.M. Cruz-Cunha, J. Varajao, P. Powell, R. Martinho (Eds.), Proceedings of Enterprise Information Systems, CENTERIS 2011, CISS 221(1), (pp. 30-39). Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg.

Using design thinking to assist spinal cord injuries patients in daily living by using structured design approaches to tackle ‘wicked problems’. This research is being conducted jointly with the Queen Elizabeth National Spinal Injuries Unit in Glasgow and formed part of a larger nationwide project supported by the Royal Society of Arts.


Macdonald, A.S. (2013) The inner resource: enabling the designer within us all - a case study. The Design Journal, Berg (in press)

technophobes and technophiles
Research into customer-centred product innovation and consumer design in Japan, supported through a Japan Foundation Research Fellowship, a Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation Butterfield Award, and by the Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University. 

View online lecture

Macdonald, A. S. (2010) Embracing technophobes and technophiles: customer-centred product innovation in Japanese mobile phones 2003-2007. Journal of Engineering Design. 21 (2,3), pp. 147-164.

Research Supervision
He is the Primary Supervisor for a number of PhD students researching and devloping the application of design approaches within the health and care fields including:

Ji Wei Wu ‘Improving the understanding of the innate abilities and coping strategies of visually impaired people (VIP): An analysis and modelling of the variables and their spatial navigational abilities’.
Sandra Neves ‘Enjoy your meal: design tools and strategies to improve the post-stroke mealtime experience in rehabilitation’.
Gayle Rice: ‘A practical exploration into the use and affect of visual communication tools in social work practice’.
Gemma Wheeler ‘Revisiting spinal cord injury rehabilitation through applications of contemporary design approaches’

External / advisory
He has been an external examiner for academic programmes and PhDs at Sheffield Hallam University, the University of Dundee, the Royal College of Art, Loughborough University, and TU Delft in the Netherlands. He is an advisor to the Royal College of Art, The Royal Society of Arts, the Design Council, the Singapore Building and Construction Authority and is a visiting professor at the Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Kyushu, Japan.

A product designer by training and part of the founding team for GSA’s award-winning MEng/BEng Product Design Engineering (PDE) programme, he was its Head of Department from 1996-2006 and helped establish the product design engineering programme in 1996 at The Swinburne University of Technology based on the Glasgow PDE model.