Research projects at the Behavioral Informatics team

The Behavioral Informatics team at the Health Informatics Centre (HIC) strives to find ways in which behavioral data can be used to optimize health interventions.
These are our current projects.

It's about time: Dynamic temporal effects of psychosocial work environment on chronic and acute stress symptoms

In this project we aim to systematically compare when strain symptoms develop as a result of an exposure to chronic vs acute occupational stressors, and how these stressors-strain effects change over time. We investigate when chronic and acute stressors lead to the development of both psychological strain (e.g., depression, burnout) and physical strain (e.g., sleep disturbance). Combinations of diverse types of stressors and strain symptoms, under varying individual factors (e.g., gender, age, recovery opportunities), will likely result in different time frames during which symptoms develop. Thus, in this project we aim to provide a novel and dynamic view on the relationship between work-related stress and strain symptoms.

Research questions
  • What is the typical duration of exposure to chronic stressors after which strain symptoms start developing?
  • How long do strain symptoms persist after the exposure to acute stressors?
  • What is the typical time needed for the effects of change in stressors to result with change in strain symptoms?
  • Does the over-time variability in strain symptoms relate to the onset of clinical levels of strain (e.g., burnout)?
  • To what extent the time estimates specified above vary depending on individual and organizational factors?
Study details

Long-term perspective: Using a large dataset of nurses that were followed at the beginning of their careers until about 15 years later, we investigate multivariate and long-term associations among stressors in the work environment, including both psychosocial working conditions and shift work schemes, and their health consequences.

Over-time variability: We study variability in stressor-strain relations over time using intensive longitudinal data collected weekly and daily among healthcare workers. Understanding how stress experience varies over time, depending on the range of individual and organizational factors, is crucial for the development of timely interventions.

Daily recovery: Focusing specifically on daily recovery from work-related stress, we model the extent to which an individual may benefit from sufficient recovery opportunities (e.g., days off work, vacation), depending on the work environment characteristics and individual differences. We aim at discovering individual patterns of daily recovery experience that may be linked to symptoms of mental health problems.

Funding

The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare FORTE Swecris database

Publications

Intensive longitudinal study of newly graduated nurses' quick returns and self-rated stress.
Dahlgren A, Tucker P, Bujacz A, Frögéli E, Rudman A, Gustavsson P. Scand J Work Environ Health 2021 Jul;47(5):404-407

Psychosocial working conditions of shiftworking nurses: A long-term latent transition analysis.
Bujacz A, Rudman A, Gustavsson P, Dahlgren A, Tucker P. J Nurs Manag 2021 Nov;29(8):2603-2610

Psychological reactions and the need for psychological support for healthcare workers during the Covid-19 pandemic

The aim of the project is to investigate psychological reactions in healthcare workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as meaningfulness and feasibility of the psychological support directed to them. A longitudinal data collection, following healthcare workers up to one year from the first wave of the pandemic, will help describing the development of psychological stress reactions over time and the contextual, organizational, and individual factors that may increase the risk of mental health problems during and after the crisis. The project will also allow for short- and long-term evaluations of meaningfulness and feasibility of the psychological support that has been implemented during the pandemic.

Research questions
  • How do psychological reactions among healthcare staff vary over time, during and after the crisis?
  • How do individual and organizational factors relate to the experience of work-related stress during and after the crisis?
  • What forms of psychological support for healthcare workers and their managers are requested, meaningful, and feasible during a crisis?
  • What factors facilitate the implementation of psychological support initiatives during a crisis?
Study details

Longitudinal survey: An ongoing longitudinal survey is currently following 1026 Swedish healthcare workers divided into three cohorts that spread across five hospitals in Region Stockholm and Gävleborg. The survey measures perception of the psychosocial work environment, participation in and meaningfulness of the psychological support initiatives, as well as work-related stress reactions such as symptoms of burnout, depression, PTSD, and sleep disturbance.

Psychological support for healthcare managers: During the Covid-19 pandemic, managers have played a vital role in providing psychological support to their staff. At the same time, they also faced pressures and challenges on their own, often with little knowledge and resources at hand. In a mixed methods study, using both survey data and interviews, we investigate what type of psychological support would be meaningful and feasible for healthcare managers in a crisis situation.

Implementation of a psychological support model: During the first wave of the pandemic, a comprehensive model of psychological support for frontline healthcare workers was rapidly implemented at the intensive care unit of Capio S:t Görans hospital in Stockholm. We have analyzed and evaluated this case study to better understand factors related to a successful organization of psychological support during a crisis.

Funding

AFA Insurance

Publications

The Rapid Implementation of a Psychological Support Model for Frontline Healthcare Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Case Study and Process Evaluation.
Appelbom S, Bujacz A, Finnes A, Ahlbeck K, Bromberg F, Holmberg J, Larsson L, Olgren B, Wanecek M, Wetterborg D, Wicksell R. Front Psychiatry 2021 ;12():713251

Diary of a pandemic: Monitoring of work-related stress symptoms among healthcare workers through a mobile application.

This project aims at developing a data-driven monitoring system to efficiently track work-related stress reactions over time. The system includes a self-awareness intervention based on evidence-based strategies to improve workers’ recovery.

A mobile application has been developed through an initial analysis of pilot data, a factorial experiment, and a user-experience analysis. Apart from the self-reported data, objective workload estimates, and qualitative user experience data will be used to validate the functionality of the monitoring system.

Research questions
  • Are daily measurements a feasible, acceptable, and valid way of monitoring work-related stress among healthcare workers?
  • Is the mobile application a feasible way for administering an intervention?
  • Can a pattern of responses to daily measurements predict the development of psychological strain symptoms?
  • What is the optimal content and structure of a daily intervention aiming to manage work-related stress?
Study details

Pilot studies:  In two pilot studies we investigated the feasibility of the daily monitoring approach by looking at factors such as recruitment rates, protocol adherence, and usability. Data from these studies will inform the further development of the intervention and the mobile application, in accordance with an iterative design process.

Optimization study: In an experimental study with a factorial design, we aim to determine the optimal structure and content of the intervention. By testing different versions of the mobile application and their impact on psychological health and user experience, we investigate which version may be the most efficient and acceptable.

DIARY Application 

As part of the project we developed DIARY, a mobile application functioning as an intervention as well as a data collection tool. For details regarding the DIARY mobile application used in the study, please see the PDF outlining all functionality available in the application. The application is open to use by any parties - if you are interested in using the app for research purposes or within your organization, please contact us for more information. 

Funding

The Swedish Research Council Vetenskapsrådet Swecris database