Otago Polytechnic


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Research from Butler, Mary


Mary Butler



Professor Mary Butler is passionate about doing research that is relevant and makes a difference to people. Her research interests respond to the needs of people with disability and to the needs of the students who will go on to serve them as occupational therapists.

This means that her research lies within the spectrum of knowledge translation and social innovation. For example, her response to the lack of services for people with vision impairment has led to a whole series of projects developing toolkits that enable clinicians to do simple tasks that can make a difference. Recent examples include lighting, vision screening and vision simulation.

She has a passion for practical ethics and this has formed part of her response to bicultural research and also to enabling students to recognise and respond to ethical dilemmas.

Her favourite activity is supervising research students who are growing their own research profile from a base in a particular clinical passion. She has a particular capacity for helping students to align their personal and professional interests. The list of research students that she has supervised is long and diverse. Recent student work has included work on poverty; palliative care; ethics; self regulation; low vision; mobility scooters; marketing; mental health; self-assessment processes.

Mary obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Edinburgh University and has a Master’s degree in Anthropology and PhD in Philosophy from the University of Otago. She did her postdoctoral research at the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine.

She is an active member of a number of institutional committees, including the Otago Polytechnic Ethics Committee, Program Approvals Committee, Staff Subcommittee, Internal Evaluation team, School Ethicist for Occupational Therapy and a member of the Research and Postgraduate Committee. Within the wider community, she serves as a Board member of the Vision Impairment Charitable Trust Aotearoa

You can learn more about Prof Butler at: marybutler.org
ORCID: 0000-0003-3365-8995

Research Outputs

Conference Contribution - Other

Butler,M. (2019) Applying ethical frameworks to mobility: the case of driving. ITP Research Symposium, Whanaungatanga, Eastern Institute of Technology, Napier, 15-16 April

Butler, M. (2018) First line interventions for vision rehabilitation: A workshop using simulation. 90 min workshop. Occupational Therapy Clinical Workshops, Napier, 15 - 19 September.

Butler, M. (2018) Visioning an integrity practice for Occupational Therapy Whakaora Ngangahau. 40 min workshop, Occupational Therapy Clinical Workshops, Napier, 15-19 September.

Butler, M. (2018) Lighting for low vision. Save Sight Symposium, Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin, 8 September 2018.

Butler, M. (2018) Pilot of the Eyes Right Toolkit in secondary school. Otago Polytechnic & SIT 2018 research symposium, 26 November 2018. SIT seminar centre (Hansen Hall) Invercargill.

Journal Article

Butler,M., McMullan,K., & Ryan,S. (2019) Lighting Prescriptions for Low Vision. Journal of Housing For the Elderly. https://doi.org/10.1080/02763893.2018.1534175.

McMullan,K., & Butler,M. (2019) Self-regulation when using a mobility scooter: The experiences of older adults with visual impairments. British Journal of Occupational Therapy,2019. DOI: 10.1177/0308022619853528

Baigent,A., Wilson,L., & Butler,M. (2019) Reflective Photography: An intervention to enable occupational therapists to explore spirituality. New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy, Volume 66, No 3

Helm, J., & Butler, M. (2019) 'Going the extra mile' for clients in a rural community: reflection on an ethical issue faced on fieldwork placement. Scope Contemporary Research Topics (Health and Wellbeing), Issue 4, 39 - 44.


Hale, L., Mayland, E., Jenkins, M., Buttery, Y., Norris, P., Butler, M., Holland, M., Ngocha-Chaderopa, E., Mckenzie-Green, B., Czuba, K., Sezier, A., & Kayes, N. (2019) Constructing normalcy in dementia care: Cares' perceptions of their roles and the supports they need. The Gerontologist, gnz151, 13 November 2019.


McKechnie,R., Jaye,C., Hale,B., Tordoff,J., Robertson,L., Simpson,J., & Butler, M. (2018) Transition into care: experiences of the elderly as they move into residential aged care Sites: new series · vol 15 no 2 · 2018

Murphy,T., Butler,M., & Kidd,J. (2018) Losing Something of Value: An Exploration of Risk in Discharge Planning With Older People New Zealand Journal of Occupational Therapy Volume 65 No 2 | 13

Priest,R., & Butler,M. (2018) Occupational Therapy and evidence-based supported employment in mental health addictions: Showing the way, or getting in the way? Scope Contemporary Research Topics (Health & Wellbeing), 3, Occupation.

McMullan, K.S. & Butler, M. (2018) Low vision and mobility scooters: the experiences of individuals with low vision who use mobility scooters. DISABILITY AND REHABILITATION: ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY, https://doi.org/10.1080/17483107.2018.1470685

Conference Contribution - Published Paper

Butler, M. (2017) Vision simulation as education. Joint Research Symposium for Otago Polytechnic and Southern Institute of Technology, 30 October.

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