Gillian McCarthy


Teaching in 2018


BCApSc (Hons I), Design Studies, University of Otago

BA, Psychology, University of Otago


Gillian completed degrees in design and psychology, establishing her relentless curiosity about the interactions between people and design outputs. After graduating from the University of Otago and working in a think tank, she completed a PhD and developed a research platform in health contexts: investigating what kinds of medical technologies adolescents with type 1 diabetes want to use, designing an app to get children engaged in their health care, and designing a system to help women manage pelvic floor dysfunctions. Her research aims to put people before their health conditions and work with them to design solutions that fit their needs, aspirations, and everyday lives.


Gillian’s research investigates the design of medical and assistive devices; facilitating desired behaviours; understanding and improving user experiences, and exploring how people conceptualise long-term health conditions.

Gillian's methods of research include participatory and co-design, research through design, design ethnography, grounded theory and thematic analysis, and a number of methods and tools for facilitating engagement and behaviour change.

Research interests:

  • User experience design
  • Behaviour change and persuasive technologies
  • Medical and assistive technologies
  • Human error and decision-making
  • Interaction design



Teaching in 2018