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Sara Korlén

PhD student

Delivery address : Tomtebodavägen 18a 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden

About me

I am a PhD student at Medical Management Centre, registered in spring 2014. I have a Master of Science in psychology and I’m also a licensed psychologist. My previous work experience comes from the field of occupational health, working with organizational behaviour management (OBM), stress prevention and sustainability at work.


2012 - Licensed Psychologist
2010 - Master of Science in Psychology (300Hp), Department of Psychology, Stockholm University.

Research description

My research project is about market inspired policy reforms and incentive models in health care and more specifically how this affects the professionals’ motivation and behaviour. In a sense my research exists in the knowledge gap between policy and psychology.
The overarching aim of my studies is to contribute with a deepened knowledge about how such reforms are experienced in practice, and what consequences they bring seen from the professionals’ perspective.


Health care services have developed dramatically over the past decades. Increased knowledge means more opportunities to improve people’s health. To keep up with the increasing demands, health care systems need to be more efficient. To achieve this, a popular strategy among policy makers is to apply market logics in health care. Competition, privatization of providers and economic incentive models are a few examples.
An underlying assumption of reforms is that competition and economic incentives will appeal to health care providers, and drive improvements. However, critics argue that reactions on the “quasi markets” of health care will not be easy to predict. Concerns have been raised for unanticipated consequences and negative side effects. The evidence of reforms is mixed and fragmented. Few studies address the perspective of patients. There is an even more limited understanding of how professional groups are affected. Health care professionals have historically been highly autonomous, making decisions based on medical expertise and ethical considerations. Intrinsic motivation of delivering high quality care and focusing on patient’s needs has been described as characteristic for health care staff.

There is a risk that unintended consequences strike negatively on the work environment of health care professionals. These are hidden costs of system reforms, which will not always show when analyzing the most obvious measures. A positive work environment and motivated staff are among the corner stones of health care. There is a need for more knowledge of how professional groups are affected by current reforms.

Ongoing research projects:
A qualitative study of the consequences of a patient choice reform in specialized care was completed in spring 2015. Data analysis and formulation of results are ongoing.
A quantitative follow up study is planned.