Completed research projects

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Aging in place

Aging in place has been a political goal in Sweden for quite some time. Still, there is a lack of knowledge about conditions that enable and support older adults aging in place.

In the present research program we assume that future possibilities for aging at home can consist of new services, new rehabilitation programs or new technology.

The proposed research program will specifically address possibilities for aging in place, from the perspective of the older adult with disabilities.

The overall aim of the research program is to develop new knowledge to enable and support aging in place in a safe and secure home environment. This research program will target older adults with some of the most common disabilities in old age following from; dementia, stroke, or after a hip-fracture. Still, the specific focus in the research program is not on the medical diagnoses but on challenges included in aging in place when living with a disability. The proposed research will critically investigate services in health and social care aiming at providing support to older adults aging in place. Potential gains from new technology will also be investigated related older adults aging in place.

The included research is described under four interrelated themes:

  • Participation, agency and safety at home in relation to adaptations and modifications of the home environment.
  • Everyday technology and assistive technology in the use of people with cognitive deficits or dementia.
  • The use of IT based assistive systems for cognitive support in the home environment.
  • Development of new home-rehabilitation programs.

The intention behind the four interrelated themes is to provide new knowledge to support the idea of aging in place.

Methodology: The older adults perspective and the interaction between the older adult and the environment are key issues in this research. A vide range of methods will be applied depending on the specific research question.


Creating inclusive communities

Challenging the status quo through a multi-national innovative integration of ethnography and photovoice among elder migrants. The topic of aging and migration concerns a large group of people with an immediate impact on culture, politics, economy, and healthcare. Despite great efforts to support migrants and the elder, there remains a schism in streamlining access to community resources for elder migrants, often leading to feelings of disempowerment and isolation. Understanding elder migrant experiences locally is of great importance in order to create inclusive models of support, as well as enable these elders to continue making socially valuable contributions.

Methods: Spanning 2-years, this project will bring diverse life experiences of elder migrants to urban areas in Sweden and Japan, as well as facilitate the development of training materials for education and health professionals. Specifically, (1) ethnography and a community-based participatory research approach known as photovoice will be used to identify and explore what supports and hinders aging processes among elder migrants, (2) photovoice working groups, local exhibits, inter-generational interactions, and a webpage will communicate elder migrant experiences from these urban areas, and (3) an inclusive model to support migrant elders in local contexts will be developed. The project has been approved by the Regional ethics committee  Stockholm (Dnr 2010/1761-31/5) and is financed by the Toyota Foundation Grant (D10-R-0076).

Please see our online exhibition

During the final phase of the Swedish part of the study, community based group work is being carried out at Mångkulturellt Centrum in Fittja, using an approach called photovoice. The project group meets once per week during an 8-week period (Autumn 2011) in order to discuss topics of social relevance selected by the group. The project also uses photos that may lead to a future exhibition. The project will also be carried out in Japan with planned start in spring/summer 2012.

Principle Investigator:

Eric Asaba, Ph.D., OTR.

Project Staff:

Margarita Mondaca, M.Sc., OT; Miwa Sakiyama, M.Sc., OT


Lena Borell, Professor; Staffan Josephsson, Professor; Mark Luborsky, Professor; Debbie Rudman, Associate Professor; Anders Kottorp, Associate Professor; Melissa Park, Assistant Professor; Karin Johansson, Assistant Professor


Rehabilitation of people with stress related disorders in daily occupations

There is a limited knowledge of how people with stress related disorders, through rehabilitation, can achieve a balance in their daily occupations. Previous studies have mainly focused on stress in relation to work and there is a need of studies using a broader perspective comprising different areas of occupations as personal care, households activities, work/studies and recreational activities. This project is a new PhD project aiming to examine different aspects of the rehabilitation process people with stress related disorders are involved in. The project has a specific focus on the meaning of rehabilitation in a rehabilitation garden.

Project leader:

Kerstin Tham, OT, PhD, Professor


Richard Levi, PhD, physician; Hans Jonsson, OT, PhD, Associate Professor; Ywonne Westerberg, OT; Eva Karlström, OT, Ulla Johansson, PhD, Therese Eriksson, PhD


1) To identify the relationship between exhaustion and occupational gaps in people who have stress related disorders and will participate in rehabilitation,

2) To identify therapeutic components in the rehabilitation process,

3) To examine the meaning of doing and being in a therapeutic garden,

4) To examine the meaning of context in a therapeutic garden


In this project both quantitative and qualitative methods are used. In one study different questionnaires are used measuring exhaustion and occupational gaps. In the other studies two different qualitative approaches are used, namely Grounded Theory and Phenomenology and these studies are base on data from observations and interviews.

Long term goals:

To develop the theoretical basis for the rehabilitation of persons with stress related disorders.

Financial support:

This project is a PhD project (4-year project) financed by the National research school in health care sciences, KI.

Publications in the project:

Eriksson, T., Jonsson, H., Tham, K. & Eriksson, G. (2011). A comparison of perceived occupational gaps between people with stress-related ill health or musculoskeletal pain and a reference group. Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy. Publicerad online.

Eriksson, T., Karlström, E., Jonsson, H. & Tham, K. (2010). An exploratory study of the rehabilitation process of people with stress-related disorders. Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy. 17, 29-39.

Eriksson, T., Westerberg, Y. & Jonsson, H. (2011). Experiences of women with stress-related ill health in a therapeutic gardening program. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy. 78, 274-282.

Occupational Therapy