Month: May 2023

Steg mot en Hälsosam Arbetsplats: Läs boken “Psykisk Ohälsa – Utmaningen vi möter”

Vi befinner oss i en tid där psykisk ohälsa blir allt vanligare och påverkar individer och samhällen på olika sätt. Arbetsplatsen har blivit en plats där psykiska problem frodas, vilket resulterar i personligt lidande och hotar produktivitet och tillväxt. Men vad kan vi göra för att bemöta denna brådskande utmaning? Idag är vi stolta över att presentera en banbrytande bok med Åsa Cajander och Bengt Sandblad som medverkande som syftar till att fördjupa förståelsen och erbjuda handlingsbara lösningar: “Psykisk Ohälsa – Utmaningen vi möter”.

Psykisk Ohälsa – Utmaningen vi möter”, redigerad av Åke Magnusson, samlar en mångfald av forskare, experter och till och med Sveriges socialminister, Jakob Forssmed (KD), för att belysa komplexiteten kring mental hälsa i arbetslivet. Denna samverkan mellan institutioner som Handelshögskolan vid Göteborgs universitet, Svenskt Näringsliv, LO, IF Metall, Göteborgsregionen (GR) och Folkuniversitetet syftar till att ge individer, organisationer och beslutsfattare verktyg för att aktivt hantera denna viktiga fråga.

Boken fördjupar sig i den oroande ökningen av psykiska problem i arbetslivet och undersöker deras orsaker och konsekvenser. Genom att presentera en omfattande samling av forskning, personliga berättelser och expertinsikter ger den en tydlig bild av denna komplexa problematik och understryker att det inte finns några enkla lösningar. Istället framhålls behovet av ett gemensamt engagemang från kollegor, arbetsgivare och fackliga företrädare för att aktivt främja välmående på arbetsplatsen.

Viktiga teman och insikter: Författarna till “Psykisk Ohälsa – Utmaningen vi möter” utforskar flera avgörande ämnen, inklusive:

  1. Den sociala och ekonomiska påverkan av psykiska hälsoproblem på arbetsplatsen.
  2. Individens, arbetsgivarens och fackliga företrädarnas roll i att främja psykiskt välbefinnande.
  3. Insikter från forskning och praktisk erfarenhet som erbjuder vägledning för effektiva hälsoinitiativ.
  4. Intervjuer med ledande experter, inklusive socialminister Jakob Forssmed (KD).

Genom att utforska dessa teman ger boken läsarna en stark grund för att förstå komplexiteten av psykiska utmaningar och inspirerar till djupgående diskussioner och handlingskraft.

 Utgivning: Folkuniversitetets Akademiska Press

Format: Häftad (978-91-85359-25-7), E-bok (978-91-85359-26-4)

Exploring the Future of Healthcare: Insights from MIE’2023 and VITALIS 2023

The Medical Informatics Europe 2023 (MIE’2023) conference, held under the theme “Caring is Sharing – Exploiting Value in Data for Health and Innovation,” alongside the renowned VITALIS 2023, Scandinavia’s largest eHealth conference, created a stage where experts gathered to delve into the latest advancements and challenges in healthcare. The buzz around AI in healthcare was undeniable, emphasizing the need for regulation while recognizing its immense potential. Striking the delicate balance between innovation and patient safety became a key focal point, highlighting the importance of establishing robust frameworks and guidelines for AI deployment in healthcare settings.

Sweden, with its world-class healthcare and research institutions, thriving industry, and vibrant startup scene, served as the perfect backdrop for MIE’2023 and VITALIS 2023. Drawing decision makers, IT managers, researchers, and care administrators from various sectors, VITALIS provided a fertile ground for networking and collaboration among the different stakeholders in the field. This convergence of industry professionals from healthcare organizations, municipalities, county councils, and authorities facilitated invaluable connections and knowledge exchange.

The opening keynote at VITALIS was a highlight of the event, featuring influential speakers who offered compelling insights into the future of healthcare. Jakob Forssmed, Minister for Social Affairs and Public Health, stressed the significance of leveraging data and digital solutions to transform healthcare. David Novillo Ortiz from the World Health Organization shared noteworthy initiatives utilizing data and digital technologies. Tom Lawry, an AI expert, captivated the audience with his exploration of AI’s transformative potential in healthcare. The discussions revolved around the need for responsible implementation and regulation, keeping patient welfare at the forefront.

Innovative research on patients’ use of medical records online took center stage during the conferences, shedding light on the impact of patient-accessible electronic health records (PAEHR). A notable session led by Prof. Åsa Cajander focused on the effects of PAEHR on diverse patient groups, particularly in psychiatric and somatic care. The session underscored the necessity for further research on user experiences and perceptions, highlighting the complexities and considerations surrounding the implementation and impact of PAEHR in different healthcare contexts.

MIE’2023 and VITALIS 2023 emphasized the pivotal role of data, AI, and patient access in reshaping the healthcare landscape. These conferences provided an engaging platform for decision-makers, IT managers, researchers, and care administrators to collaborate, fostering innovation and knowledge-sharing. The seminars on AI adoption in healthcare emphasized the importance of responsible implementation, while presentations on patient access to medical records illuminated the benefits and challenges associated with PAEHR. The collective efforts of the healthcare community, as highlighted during these events, hold the potential to revolutionize patient outcomes and shape a future where innovation and compassion go hand in hand.

The benefit of the so called 3rd duty

Recently, I have been invited as a presenter and panel member the Riks-P conference in Stockholm, as well as online, presenting for employees working at the Swedish Work Environment Authority. The topic for these presentations has been AI, robotization and the work environment.

In academia, we refer to these kind of job duties as ‘the 3rd duty’. For those of you that are not familiar with this concept, I’ll try to explain it briefly. Typically, it is stated that academians have three job duties; 1) Research; 2) Teaching; 3) Academic service.

The 3rd duty – Academic service encompasses various responsibilities that contribute to the functioning and development of the academic community and society at large. This can include serving on committees within the institution, participating in academic governance, reviewing manuscripts for journals, organizing conferences or workshops, engaging in community outreach and public engagement activities, and providing expert advice to policymakers or industry professionals etc.

So, what is the benefit of the 3rd duty? Actually, the 3rd duty offers several benefits at both individual and institutional levels. These involve e.g. professional networking, reputation, recognition, personal and professional growth, as well as institutional development and the fulfilling of social responsibility. In other words, it is a good idea to not forget about the 3rd duty!


Magdalena Stadin, PhD

Empowering People with Anxiety: Biofeedback-based Connected Health Interventions

In today’s fast-paced world, anxiety has become a prevalent and concerning issue affecting individuals of all ages. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated this problem, with feelings of fear, worry, and uncertainty becoming more common. As we strive to find effective interventions for anxiety, the emerging field of connected health, combined with biofeedback techniques, holds great promise.

Understanding Anxiety
Anxiety, a complex interplay of psychological and physiological factors, manifests as a state of fear, uneasiness, and nervousness. It is a natural response to stress, serving as a signal of potential danger. However, when anxiety becomes persistent and overwhelming, it may indicate the presence of an anxiety disorder. These disorders, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, can significantly impact a person’s well-being and quality of life.

A person suffering from anxiety

The Rise of Anxiety
Anxiety disorders have been on the rise globally, and Sweden is no exception. Self-reported anxiety and nervousness have witnessed an 11% increase in the country between 2011 and 2021. Women tend to be more affected than men across all age groups. The contributing factors to anxiety disorders are multifaceted, including difficult life experiences, environmental influences, health behaviors, and various physical factors such as genetics and brain chemistry.

Connected Health Interventions for Anxiety
Connected health, the integration of information communication technology into healthcare, offers innovative solutions for managing anxiety. Among the various digital interventions, biofeedback stands out as a non-pharmacological and non-invasive approach. Biofeedback leverages the measurement of physiological changes associated with psychological states, enabling individuals to monitor and control their bodily functions influenced by anxiety.

Advantages of Biofeedback
Technological advancements have made biofeedback more accessible, affordable, and user-friendly. It allows individuals to gain awareness and insight into their physiological changes, empowering them to better regulate their mental states. Biofeedback can help individuals recognize internal states linked to arousal and relaxation, fostering a sense of self-efficacy and control. By addressing both psychological and physiological symptoms, biofeedback holds immense potential in anxiety detection and treatment.

Types of Biofeedback and Their Applications
Biofeedback utilizes various sources of biodata, including respiration, brain activity (neurofeedback), muscle tension, skin conductance, temperature, and heart rate variability. Our systematic literature review has revealed that biofeedback interventions for anxiety primarily leverage two types of feedback: modifications to user interface and experience or visual presentations of physiological changes. Virtual Reality (VR) has emerged as a powerful tool, enhancing the efficacy of biofeedback interventions by providing immersive exposure therapy experiences. Serious games coupled with biofeedback have also shown promising results, influencing behavior and facilitating learning.

Biofeedback is often combined with relaxation techniques, such as progressive relaxation, breathing exercises, and meditation. These practices have demonstrated effectiveness in reducing anxiety and stress. In biofeedback-based interventions, individuals receive real-time feedback on their physiological measurements, fostering a deeper understanding of the mind-body connection. Music therapy, coupled with biofeedback, has also yielded positive outcomes, regulating both physical and mental health.

The Road Ahead
As we delve deeper into the realm of biofeedback-based connected health interventions for anxiety, ongoing research and development are crucial. Further exploration of different sensors, treatment techniques, and physiological data collection methods will enhance the efficacy and accessibility of these interventions. Collaborations between researchers, clinicians, and technology experts hold the potential to transform anxiety management and empower individuals to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives.

Reference: Alneyadi, M., Drissi, N., Almeqbaali, M., and Ouhbi, S. (2021). Biofeedback-based Connected Mental Health Interventions for Anxiety: Systematic Literature Review. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 9(4): e26038, doi: 10.2196/26038

TikTok – what is the problem?

Last Friday, I was interviewed by the Swedish television (the local Uppland channel) about the reasons for this and the possible dangers with the application from a security perspective. The interview can be found here but it is only in Swedish. Therefore I will describe the problem in this post as well.

The municipality of Uppsala, together with a large number of other public actors (also in many other countries) have recently prohibited the use of TikTok on the work spade. Apart from that some people might think that there are very limited reasons to why you should need access to TikTok on your mobiles at all during your work, why would you prohibit the use of TikTok, when you can still use Youtube, Instagram and Facebook? What is different with TikTok?

There are actually some reasons for this, both the prohibition and the differences between the application. TikTok is an application that allows the users to record short videos (max 3 min) and publish these on the TikTok platform. This has become very popular among, above all, young people. There is also an ongoing critical discussion about the social aspects of the TikTok application, but it is not part of this post.

When the application is installed, it asks the user for permission to access photo and video storage, the camera and the microphone, which is of course quite reasonable, since the purpose of the app is exactly to record videos and store them in the user’s phone. However, it also asks for access to the contact lists, and the current location when used. And here is one of the problems, namely that this data is given by the user to an application we know very little about. But, one may object, this data is not dangerous, we give it to almost any of the social media applications (actually, that might be something we should not do either, without some consideration).

The data the users provide is, however, actually not that innocent as it might seem at first sight. If the application can collect the data as mentioned above, the data might form a much bigger collection of “innocent” data, which is not as innocent anymore. It contains your contacts, the places where you have been, and also when you where there. If the data of different people are correlated on the whole data set, there might be patterns that could show interesting things for people who are specifically interested. It could for example show regular visits to certain locations, or even that you meet some people regularly. Still, who would be interested of this information? Not everything might be interesting, but suppose that you are engaged in a civil defense organization. Then the meeting places, the people you meet at those meetings, and who these people meet in other contexts might be very important information for a possible enemy. So, there are quite a few people in a city that could be of interest in this kind of analysis.

But, as mentioned above, this information is provided to many different applications, so why has TikTok been singled out like this? Well, there is one additional argument for this, namely that it is very important that we know where the information is going in the larger perspective. This is where the history of TikTok becomes relevant. TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, one of the biggest startup companies in the world, and this is where the main problem starts. The statement in the Privacy Policy gives an indication (my boldface added):

We may disclose any of the Information We Collect to respond to subpoenas, court orders, legal process, law enforcement requests, legal claims, or government inquiries, and to protect and defend the rights, interests, safety, and security of the Platform, our affiliates, users, or the public. We may also share any of the Information We Collect to enforce any terms applicable to the Platform, to exercise or defend any legal claims, and comply with any applicable law. 

TiKToK Privacy Policy

The text in boldface provides a key to the problems. The data can be released in certain situations, which are not under our control. In 2017 China implemented a law that compels companies to turn over personal data relevant to China’s security. The question is then what this data might be. Depending on the situation, information pertaining other countries’ military and/or civil defenses might be very relevant to another country. The company can, through its mother company be forced to hand out any information under the conditions mentioned.

What are the odds? It is difficult to say, of course. However, since TikTok is not crucial to the work in public organizations, there is no reason even to take the chances. Especially in the current situation where there is such unrest over most of the world, there is definitely a reason for being careful in general with the handing out of data.

But, there are also some drawbacks with the general ban on the application. As mentioned above, the application is mostly used by young people. This also means that the proper use of the application can become an entry point to different youth groups, which could be invaluable to certain groups in the municipality, such as social workers, schools, and not least libraries. The libraries have used the application for some time to spread information to young people under the hashtag #BookTok, which allegedly has been very popular. This will now become difficult to handle with the current ban. Of course there may be ways around this ban, but in my opinion it all goes to show that a ban on an application like this has to be carefully considered, and that there should be an awareness of that there could be cases where there has to be exceptions. And, not least, there is a need for more information to potential users of social media about the possible risks that follow the usage.

To quote a famous detective in a famous TV-series:

Let’s be careful out there….