Month: September 2023

HTO Coverage: Led by Machines and differing perspectives.

75% of companies in EU should use AI, big data, or the cloud by 2030. It is one of the targets that the European Commission has declared with their Digital Decade policy programme (European Commission 2023). While a lot of research has been and is currently performed to study AI and work, there is a noticeable gap in the research on the effects of AI and automation on working environment and conditions (Cajander et al. 2022). Our work in the TARA and AROA projects aim to continue to bridge this gap but we are not the only one who currently work to do so. This blog post will act as HTO coverage1 of one such initiative.

Last week, I attended the conference Led by Machines in Stockholm. The conference was the launch of a new international research initiative to study how algorithmic management affect the nature of work and workers experiences. The main focus of the conference were a set of keynotes and panels that covered the need for research on the topic and previous work that had already been done. But, my main takeaway was that it highlighted the different perspectives in play in this domain. The conference brought together trade unionists, policymakers and researchers from different fields which led to that the implications were discussed from macro, meso, as well as micro-perspectives. Coming from human-computer interaction and user centred design, I am used to study the micro-level of how individuals use and are affected by the use of technologies. In contrast to this, most of those I spoke to at the conference worked at the macro-level; e.g. a political science researcher that discussed how policy and regulation around technology is decided on and an economics researcher that studied the impact of AI on changes in the labour market. Others worked with topics at a meso-level; e.g. a trade unionist discussed the effects on social relations and the role of middle management in organisations. The swift adoption of new technology that we stand before can have unforeseen consequence across these different levels. As such, it is great that researchers and other stakeholders interested in questions and problems at different levels can come together and work toward gaining a better understanding of the knowledge gap together.

1) The Swedish word “omvärldsbevakning” (lit. “monitoring of the surrounding world”) is often translated to environmental scanning or business intelligence. Both alternative translations comes with different connotations and implications that does not align clearly with research in general or the topic at hand. In the case that this becomes a returning series of blog posts, I instead refer to it as HTO coverage as it will provide coverage of topics related to Human, Technology, and Organisation that occur outside of our research group.


Cajander, Å., Sandblad, B., Magdalena, S., & Elena, R. (2022). Artificial intelligence, robotisation and the work environment. Swedish Agency for Work Environment Expertise. Retrieved September 29th from

European Commission. (2023) Europe’s Digital Decade: digital targets for 2030. Retrieved September 29th from

The author has no affiliation with the organisations that organised the Led by Machines conference.

Supporting Informal Caregivers of Head and Neck Cancer Patients: Understanding Their Challenges and Needs

Caring for a loved one with cancer is a deeply personal and emotionally challenging journey. For many, it’s a labour of love with a profound sense of purpose and satisfaction. However, the role of informal caregivers (ICs) is not without its unique set of challenges. In this blog post, we delve into a research paper exploring the world of informal caregivers, particularly those who support individuals battling head and neck cancer (HNC).

Paper: Langegård, U., Cajander, Å., Ahmad, A., Carlsson, M., Nevo, E. O., Johansson, B., & Ehrsson, Y. T. (2023). Understanding the challenges and need for support of informal caregivers to individuals with head and neck cancer-A basis for developing internet-based support. European Journal of Oncology Nursing, 102347.

The Struggles of Caregiving for HNC Patients

Head and neck cancer presents a unique set of challenges due to its impact on essential functions like swallowing, speaking, and breathing. Patients often undergo treatments that result in various distressing symptoms, such as dry mouth, altered facial appearance, and debilitating pain. This increased dependence on caregivers adds an extra layer of responsibility.

Studies have highlighted the significant caregiver burden experienced by ICs of HNC patients. Caregiver burden refers to the multidimensional physical, psychological, and social challenges caregivers face when caring for their loved ones. Depression, fatigue, and sleep disturbances are common among ICs in this context, emphasizing the need for support.

Preparedness for caregiving refers to an IC’s perceived ability to provide physical, emotional, or practical care while managing the associated stresses. Research has shown that well-prepared caregivers experience fewer worries and are more capable of providing care.

The Research Study and Its Objectives

The study we’re discussing is part of a broader research project aimed at developing online support for ICs of individuals with HNC. The project is called Carer eSupport and is presented in this blog post. It’s a collaborative effort involving expert caregivers, medical professionals, and human-computer interaction experts. The project focuses on addressing the unique needs of ICs to enhance their preparedness for caregiving.

Exploring ICs’ Challenges and Needs

The qualitative study conducted for this research employed thematic analysis to gain insights into the challenges and needs of ICs supporting individuals with HNC. The study involved both focus group discussions and individual interviews.

The findings revealed that being an IC for HNC patients is a multifaceted experience. ICs often felt excluded from the care process due to a lack of information about their loved one’s health status. This left them feeling unprepared and disconnected.

The impact of caregiving on daily life was significant. ICs had to adapt their routines and sometimes even sacrifice their social lives and work commitments. This shift in priorities could lead to isolation and emotional strain.

Carrying the uncertainty of the cancer journey was another emotional burden for ICs. Waiting for diagnoses or witnessing treatment’s effects generated fear and anxiety about the future.

The research also highlighted the transformation of the IC’s role and the dynamics of the caregiver-patient relationship. ICs often transitioned from being partners or family members to full-time caregivers. This shift could strain the relationship and create vulnerability.

Feeling forced into the caregiver role and dealing with practical responsibilities, such as wound care, added to the emotional burden. ICs frequently felt ill-equipped to handle these responsibilities.

Additionally, caregiving often led to a loss of the IC’s own identity as they became consumed by their relative’s needs. This loss of identity could also be linked to changes in the patient’s personality due to pain or treatment side effects.

The study also explored the sources of support for ICs. A strong social network that provided practical and emotional support was invaluable. This included understanding employers who allowed flexibility, friends and family members who offered assistance and even support from healthcare professionals.

However, not all ICs were fortunate enough to have this support network. Some felt isolated and struggled to ask for help or define their needs. The research emphasized the importance of both emotional and informational support, including education about practical aspects of care.


Understanding the challenges and needs of informal caregivers supporting individuals with head and neck cancer is a critical step toward providing them with the necessary support. This research sheds light on the emotional and practical hurdles these caregivers face and underscores the importance of preparedness for caregiving.

As the healthcare community continues developing interventions and support systems, it’s essential to consider the insights gained from studies like this. By addressing the specific needs and challenges of ICs, we can enhance their ability to provide the best possible care to their loved ones while safeguarding their own well-being.

On the responsibility of putting on a show

Taking the stage for the first time as a PhD-student.

It’s been a mere three weeks since I started my PhD position in Uppsala and I’m in Swansea, Wales. The occasion is the conference ECCE (short for European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics). Oscar Bjurling at RISE ( and I got a paper accepted based on a project we did last year, when I was in the Cognitive Science masters program at Linköping University. “Human-Swarm Interaction in Semi-voluntary Search and Rescue Operations: Opportunities and Challenges” is what we’ve named our paper, and it’s a workshop-based study where we had discussions with experts about potential consequences of drone swarm implementation on search and rescue operations.

Having a paper accepted is all well and good, but it should also be presented. Being that this will be my first conference, I don’t really have a clue about the amount of people who will attend each presentation. I feel like it could either be a full stacked audience and bouquets of roses being handed out to every speaker, or just the one half-sleeping audience member glaring disapprovingly at every one of my attempts at arguing for seeing drone swarms as valuable search and rescue team members. With us being 11th in a line of 15 15-minute presentations the opening day, there is a definite risk that the eventual flowers will be saved for the keynote speakers.

Nevertheless, a presentation is due, and I think that we as researchers have a responsibility to make sure that the ones who do show up to see our presentation feels like it was worth it. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned during my brief time as a university-employee is that there’s always something else you could be doing. There will definitely be people there who are stressed about grading papers, writing ethics applications, or other potentially more important stuff than watching our presentation. Now I don’t plan to completely take after the late Hans Rosling and pick up the noble art of sword swallowing for this presentation, partly because of time issues, but also because I couldn’t see the “It [The Sword] is for scientific purposes”-argument going all too well at the security check-in at the airport. However my ambition is to convince at least somebody in the audience that looking into the potential of drone swarms might be a good idea.

Similar thoughts of presentation responsibility struck me when I, in the role of teacher assistant, presented a couple of ethical issues at a seminar last week. Not only could the students probably learn more about the Trolley Problem on Youtube than from me, but I’m actually standing there claiming to know about this subject to the degree that I could be teaching it to university students.

So when preparing for this presentation, I’m being meticulous about representing the thoughts of the experts we talked to correctly, so that I can confidently argue for our analyses and conclusions, while at the same time taking the responsibility of putting on a show seriously. Because if I don’t bother, why should the audience?

E-Coaching for Informal Caregivers: Building Resilience and Well-being

Closeup of a support hands

As we navigate through the complex experience of caregiving, it is often the informal caregivers, such as close friends or relatives, who become the unsung heroes of caregiving at home. These caregivers are the ones who provide the much-needed support and assistance that patients require to live life with some semblance of normalcy.

For informal caregivers, providing care for a loved one can be emotionally, physically, and mentally challenging. They often have to adapt to a new role as the primary caregiver, while also managing their own lives and responsibilities. Consequently, caregiving can take a toll on these caregivers’ well-being, with many experiencing stress and burnout. Interventions designed to provide support to these caregivers are thus crucial. To this end, our recent study identified important unmet needs of informal caregivers and provided design suggestions for a persuasive e-coaching application using the persuasive system design (PSD) model. The PSD model offers a systematic approach to designing IT interventions.

Using a qualitative research approach, we interviewed 13 informal caregivers and conducted a thematic analysis of the data. From this analysis, six needs were identified: monitoring and guidance, assistance in navigating formal care services, access to practical information without feeling overwhelmed, a sense of community, access to informal support, and the ability to accept grief. These needs formed the basis for suggested design features in an e-coaching application, using the PSD model.

However, we found that some needs could not be mapped using the existing PSD model. As such, we adapted the model to better address the needs of informal caregivers.

By identifying the needs of informal caregivers and providing design suggestions for an e-coaching application, this study offers support and hope for those navigating the challenging role of caregiving. The suggestions for e-coaching applications using the PSD model have the potential to ease the caregiving burden, as well as provide caregivers access to the support and resources they need to provide better care, which is an essential factor in improving both the caregiver’s well-being and the overall quality of care provided to patients. This study highlights the importance of providing support to informal caregivers and demonstrates the potential of technology-based interventions to improve caregivers’ lives. With further development and refinement, e-coaching applications designed based on the PSD model could become valuable tools for supporting and empowering informal caregivers.