Steve MacGillivray

+44 (0)1382 381075


Dr Steve MacGillivray leads the Evidence Synthesis Training and Research group (eSTAR) in the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. The primary purpose of this cross cutting research group is to co-ordinate evidence synthesis related activity (teaching and research). He is an experienced Health Services Researcher and Systematic Reviewer with a background in Psychology and a PhD in Health Services Research obtained within the Medical School in the University of Dundee. He has worked as a researcher in the Department of Psychiatry, Epidemiology and Public Health, Mother and Child Health and currently, the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. Dr MacGillivray is passionate about systematic review methods and welcomes contact from anyone who is interested in collaborating or from any individual or groups. 

Wider professional activities

Dr MacGillivray is the Group Lead for the Evidence Synthesis Training and Research Group within the School of Nursing and Health Sciences. He is also the lead systematic reviewer for The Scottish Improvement Collaborating Centre (SISCC). Regarding the latter, he is one of the Grant holders, and is funded 1 day per week for 5 years as a co-partner. Dr MacGillivray is also an active member of: The School Research Committee; The School Board; The; Mother and Infant Research Unit; The People, Health and Communities research group; The Equality and Diversity Group within the School. He is also currently a member of seven Cochrane Review Groups: Cochrane Common Mental Disorders Group (formerly) Depression Anxiety and Neurosis Group (Referent Group); Infectious Diseases Group; Consumers and Communication Group; Developmental, Psychosocial and Learning Problems Group; Cochrane Anaesthesia Review Group; Neonatal review Group; Pregnancy and Childbirth Group. 

Dr MacGillivray regularly peer reviews papers for publication in several high quality Journals, including: British Medical Journal; American Journal of Psychiatry; Family Practice; Archives of General Psychiatry; International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry; Journal of Mental Health; Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, Journal of Advanced Nursing; Health Expectations; Systematic Reviews; Health Education; Journal of Continuing Education in Health Professions. He reviews grant applications submitted to the Chief Scientist Office, Health Technology Assessment (HTA) and other bodies. He also peer reviews final reports submitted to Health Technology Assessment (HTA) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). I respond to policy documents in the area of health services research and prepare reports of research projects.


Dr MacGillivray’s research aims to advance understanding of the methods currently used in evidence synthesis and to facilitate new innovation in this area. Over the past 5 years he has been successful in collaborating with internal and external partners to receive research funding of more than £4 million to conduct research across a number of different topic areas including Mother and infant Health, Digital health, and Oral health and in successfully publishing more than 40 peer reviewed research articles. Dr MacGillivray has a track record of research within the field of mental health and is specifically interested in the meaning and management of depressive disorders. His research interests also include a focus on reducing health inequalities, improving access to and engagement with health services, and digital technologies to support health and wellbeing.  Dr MacGillivray has particular expertise in conducting meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials (particularly Cochrane Reviews), meta-syntheses of qualitative studies and rapid evidence reviews for policy and is also developing expertise in conducting realist syntheses as well as meta-ethnography. Dr MacGillivray is also interested in developing new evidence synthesis methodologies.

Key words: Health Technology Assessment; Mental health and illness; Reducing Health Inequities; Improving Access to and Engagement with Health Care; Digital Technologies to Support Health and Wellbeing; Public Health; Mother and Infant Health; Meta-analysis; Meta-synthesis; Evidence reviews for policy; Critical Appraisal; Methods development.

Current funding

2018       C£120,000. Chief Scientist Office (Scotland). Understanding the role of Information and Communication Technologies in supporting people after stroke and other neurological conditions to self-manage their physical rehabilitation: A Meta synthesis. MacGillivray (PI) and Morris. In preparation.

2018       C£150,000. NIHR HS&DR. Ensuring effective transitions of frail older adults through health, social and community care: Understanding use, effectiveness, and experiences of ICTs through systematic review and meta-synthesis. MacGillivray & Sixsmith (Co PIs), Morris, Waller, Jindal-Snape. In preparation.

2018       C£50,000. WHO. Capacity and capability to support the proposed WHO strengthening programme to develop a national plan for midwifery in India. McFadden (PI), MacGillivray, Symon & Renfrew. In preparation

2018       C£150,000. Chief Scientist Office (Scotland). Effectiveness, safety and use of antidepressants in pregnant and breastfeeding women: A Meta-analysis and Meta-synthesis. MacGillivray (PI) In preparation

2018       £343,755. NIHR HTA. Responsive vs scheduled feeding for preterm infants. Development and feasibility study of an evidence-informed manualised intervention to compare CUe-Based versus Scheduled feeding for preterm infants transitioning from tube to oral feeding in neonatal units (CUBS). McFadden (PI), Wallace, McGuire, Patel, Whitford, MacGillivray, Donnan, Mactier, Johnson & Higman. Awarded to commence 1st April 2018.

2017       £49,889 WHO. The effectiveness of counselling for breastfeeding women. McFadden, Siebelt, Symon, Gavine, Renfrew & MacGillivrayTo commence December 2017

2017       £5,000 University of Dundee internal Pump prime for development of a grant application to the Global Challenges Research Fund. Sustainable Maternal and Child Oral Health in Palestine: Model for Areas of Conflict. Freeman, Mossey, Abuhaloob & MacGillivrayAwarded May 2017

2017       £36,000. Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). Efficient evidence reviews to inform the future design and delivery of Midwifery Education. Gavine, McFadden & MacGillivray. Commenced Sept 2017

2017       £15,000 DFiD Policy Research Fund: Developing the evidence base for global policy guidance on improving the quality of Maternal and Newborn care through strengthening midwifery skills. MacGillivray, Gavine & Renfrew. Commenced Sept 2017.

2016       £31,345 World Health Organisation. Update three selected systematic reviews relevant to the "Ten Steps to successful breastfeeding". Renfrew & MacGillivraySuccessful - Project completed.

2016       £30,000 Scottish Government. Rapid reviews of the evidence to inform the Scottish Government review of maternity and neonatal services. Renfrew, Gavine & MacGillivray. Successful - Project completed



Dr MacGillivray designs and runs courses focussing upon the knowledge and skills required to plan, conduct and interpret systematic reviews in particular regarding meta-analysis and meta-synthesis. He has run many short courses for evidence synthesis for students and healthcare professionals. He also designed and ran a 5 day Summer School: Introduction to Systematic Reviews. He is currently designing a suite of courses around evidence synthesis and would welcome contact form individuals or groups looking for bespoke teaching, support, mentorship or advice.

He is currently leading the development of and evidence synthesis module for the newly forming multi-disciplinary University of Dundee transdisciplinary Professional Doctorate. Dr MacGillivray also instigated and leads a School of Nursing and Health Sciences Methods Seminar Series. Dr MacGillivray also supervises PhD students and Masters Students.


Emma Coles , Mary Wells, Margaret Maxwell, Fiona M. Harris, Julie Anderson, Nicola M. Gray, Gill Milner and Stephen MacGillivray. The influence of contextual factors on healthcare quality improvement initiatives: what works, for whom and in what setting? Protocol for a realist review. Systematic Reviews (2017) 6:168. DOI 10.1186/s13643-017-0566-8

Cameron IM, Hamilton RJ, Fernie G, MacGillivray SA. Obesity in individuals with schizophrenia: a case controlled study in Scotland. BJPsych Open. 2017;3(5):254-256.

Zubala A, MacGillivray S, Frost H, Kroll T, Skelton DA, Gavine A, Gray NM, Toma M & Morris J (2017) Promotion of physical activity interventions for community dwelling older adults: A systematic review of reviews, PLoS ONE, 12 (7), Art. No.: e0180902.

Johnson, Williams, MacGillivray, Dougal & Maxwell. (2017) ‘Doing the right thing’: Factors influencing GP prescribing of antidepressants and prescribed doses. BMC Family Practice. Accepted June 2017. 

Duncan, MacGillivray, & Renfrew. Economic Evaluations of Universal or Targeted Parenting Support Services that aim to Enhance Parent-Infant Interaction: Results and Implications for Policy Decision-Makers of a Systematic Review. Child: Care, Health and Development. 2017. 30th May. 1365-2214.

Jones, Williams, Rattray, MacGillivray, Abuvakari, Coyle, Mackie, McKenna, Baldie. (2017). Extending the assessment of patient-centeredness in healthcare: Development of the updated Valuing Patients As Individuals Scale (uVPAIS) using Exploratory Factor Analysis. Journal of Clinical Nursing. Accepted for publication March, 2017.

Gavine, MacGillivray & Renfrew. (2017). Rapid reviews of the evidence to inform the Scottish Government review of maternity and neonatal services in: J Grant (ed), The Best Start – A five-year forward plan for Maternity and Neonatal Care in Scotland:.January 2017. Edinburgh, Scottish Government. 134p.

McFadden, Gavine, Wade, Renfrew, Buchanan, Taylor, Veitch, Rennie, Crowther & MacGillivray. (2017). Support for healthy breastfeeding mothers with healthy term babies. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2017, Issue 2. Art. No: CD001141. 

Emmanuel, Kroll, Renfrew & MacGillivray. (2017). Understanding the experiences of married Southern African women in protecting themselves from HIV/AIDS: a meta-synthesis. Ethnicity and Health. Accepted April 2017.

Gavine A, MacGillivray S, Siebelt L, Haggi HM, McFadden A. (2017). Education and training of healthcare staff in the knowledge, attitudes and skills needed to work effectively with breastfeeding women: a systematic review. International Breastfeeding Journal. 2017 Feb 2nd12. p1-10.