About Dr Margaret McGrath

My goal is to ensure that people with disability and their partners are provided with information and supports necessary to realise their human rights to express their sexuality, to engage in intimate relationships and access sexual and reproductive health.

People with disability and their partners have human rights to sexual health and well-being, with dignity and respect for privacy. This includes the right to express their sexuality, to engage in intimate relationships and the right to information and supports necessary for sexual and reproductive health. Their right to equal access to sexual expression has been confirmed by the Federal Court of Australia. My research demonstrates that their opportunity for full sexual citizenship is often denied. Worryingly, people with disability and their partners mostly receive inadequate care, which diverges from Article 25b Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and clinical practice guidelines. There is emerging evidence that inadequate sexual care is associated with increased rates of anxiety and depression and poorer quality of life outcomes. Research is lacking on what works, for whom, to what extent, and under what circumstances to support people with disability in achieving sexual health and wellbeing. My research addresses 2 key modifiable barriers to providing quality care to support people with disability in realising sexual health. These are: (i) Lack of high-quality evidence for intervention approaches for people with disabilities and partners who experience difficulties in intimacy and sexuality and (ii) Clinicians lacking the knowledge, skills or comfort needed to effectively address intimacy and sexuality.

I have a strong publication track record and I am ranked third worldwide and first in Australia for research in the subject area of sexual rehabilitation (SCOPUS October 2020). I have a demonstrated track record managing independent research and student supervision.
Since my appointment at the University of Sydney in 2016, I have supervised 1 PhD, 1 MSc, 2 MOT research students and 5 Honours (all 1st class) students to successful on-time completion. Two students have been awarded the Douglas and Lola Douglas Award, with a third being awarded Best Paper at the 5th Singapore Rehabilitation Conference (2017). I currently supervise 1 PhD and 4 Honours students.
My significant impact on clinical practice is evidenced by co-authoring guidelines for sexual rehabilitation after stroke published by the Stroke Foundation Australia and invited presentation to most prestigious international event in this field, the World Stroke Conference. I have provided expert advice to the National Disability Insurance Agency Technical Advisory Branch tasked with preparing Ministerial briefings on the implementation of supports for sexuality under the National Disability Insurance Scheme. I regularly provide professional training for rehabilitation professionals (13 invited seminars/talks to approximately 450 professionals between 2016 - 2020). My collaboration the Australian Occupational Therapy Association led to a highly attended webinar on intimacy and sexuality for occupational therapists.

Selected publications

For a full list of Dr McGrath’s publications please refer to her academic profile
McGrath, M Low,M  Power, E  McCluskey, A  Lever, S 2020 Sexuality, Chronic Disease & Disability: A Systematic Mixed Studies Review of Health Professionals’ Practice Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation DOI: 10.1016/j.apmr.2020.09.379
McGrath, M, Lever, S , McCluskey A & Power E. 2019 Developing interventions to address sexuality after stroke: findings from a four-panel modified Delphi study. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2548
McGrath, M  Lever, S, McCluskey, A & Power, E. 2018 How is sexuality after stroke experienced by stroke survivors and partners of stroke survivors ? A systematic review of qualitative studies Clinical Rehabilitation DOI: 10.1177/0269215518793483
McGrath, M. & Sakellariou, D.  2016. The Issue is … Why has so little progress been made in the practice of occupational therapy in relation to sexuality? The American Journal of Occupational Therapy doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.017707
McGrath, M. & Lynch, E.  2014. Occupational Therapists’ Perspectives on addressing sexual concerns of older adults in the context of rehabilitation. Disability and Rehabilitation.  36 (8) 651-657. DOI: 10.3109/09638288.2013.805823
Hyland, A & McGrath, M.  2013 Sexuality and Occupational Therapy in Ireland – a case of ambivalence?  Disability and Rehabilitation 35 (1) 73-80. DOI: 10.3109/09638288.2012.688920