Aging and health

This research group is a collaboration between the Division of Physiotherapy and the Aging Research Center (ARC) at Karolinska Institutet.

Research focus

We study health in older adults, with special focus on physical performance, physical activity/sedentary behavior and injurious falls. Our goals are to increase knowledge regarding:

  • The complex interactions between biological, demographic, and social factors, chronic diseases, and lifestyle that may explain the development of poor health in old age (e.g., disability, injurious falls)
  • The effect of sedentary behavior and physical activity patterns on health in old age

Our research combines large population-based studies, register data and clinical studies. In the population-based studies, we use objective instruments to assess physical activity and sedentary behavior, which permits a more valid and detailed examination than previously possible in population-based studies of older adults.

Research projects

  • A multifactorial approach to injurious falls in older adults—identifying levels of risk, sex differences, and functional trajectories
  • Injurious falls in older adults: identifying people who may be targets for primary interventions—further development of the First-time Injurious Falls (FIF)-tool
  • Harmful sitting in old age
  • Social Health And Reserve in the Dementia patient journey (SHARED)

Group leader

Group members

Shuyun Chen, PhD student

Ing-Mari Dohrn, Postdoc

Stina Ek, PhD 

Nathalie Frisendahl, PhD student

Caterina Trevisan, affiliated


We have ongoing collaboration with researchers at the following universities:

University of Padova, Italy

Radboudumc, the Netherlands

Erasmus MC Rotterdam, the Netherlands

University College London, UK

Lund University, Sweden

Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden

Financial support

Doctoral School in Health Care Sciences (FiV)


Stockholm County Council (ALF)

Strategic Research Area Health Care Science (SFO-V)

The Swedish Research Council

Österman Foundation

Selected scientific publications

Predictive Performance of the FIF Screening Tool in 2 Cohorts of Community-Living Older Adults.
Frisendahl N, Ek S, Rosendahl E, Boström AM, Fagerström C, Elmståhl S, et al
J Am Med Dir Assoc 2020 Jun;():

Peak Expiratory Flow and the Risk of Injurious Falls in Older Adults: The Role of Physical and Cognitive Deficits.
Trevisan C, Rizzuto D, Ek S, Maggi S, Sergi G, Fratiglioni L, et al
J Am Med Dir Assoc 2020 Jan;():

Device-measured sedentary behavior and physical activity in older adults differ by demographic and health-related factors.
Dohrn IM, Gardiner PA, Winkler E, Welmer AK
Eur Rev Aging Phys Act 2020 ;17():8

Impact of dopamine-related genetic variants on physical activity in old age - a cohort study.
Dohrn IM, Papenberg G, Winkler E, Welmer AK
Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2020 05;17(1):68

Predicting First-Time Injurious Falls in Older Men and Women Living in the Community: Development of the First Injurious Fall Screening Tool.
Ek S, Rizzuto D, Calderón-Larrañaga A, Franzén E, Xu W, Welmer AK
J Am Med Dir Assoc 2019 09;20(9):1163-1168.e3

Risk Factors for Injurious Falls in Older Adults: The Role of Sex and Length of Follow-Up.
Ek S, Rizzuto D, Fratiglioni L, Calderón-Larrañaga A, Johnell K, Sjöberg L, et al
J Am Geriatr Soc 2019 02;67(2):246-253

Impact of Social Network on the Risk and Consequences of Injurious Falls in Older Adults.
Trevisan C, Rizzuto D, Maggi S, Sergi G, Wang HX, Fratiglioni L, et al
J Am Geriatr Soc 2019 09;67(9):1851-1858

Temporal trends in impairments of physical function among older adults during 2001-16 in Sweden: towards a healthier ageing.
Santoni G, Angleman SB, Ek S, Heiland EG, Lagergren M, Fratiglioni L, et al
Age Ageing 2018 09;47(5):698-704

Risk Profiles for Injurious Falls in People Over 60: A Population-Based Cohort Study.
Ek S, Rizzuto D, Fratiglioni L, Johnell K, Xu W, Welmer AK
J. Gerontol. A Biol. Sci. Med. Sci. 2018 01;73(2):233-239

Cognitive and Physical Function in Relation to the Risk of Injurious Falls in Older Adults: A Population-Based Study.
Welmer AK, Rizzuto D, Laukka EJ, Johnell K, Fratiglioni L
J. Gerontol. A Biol. Sci. Med. Sci. 2017 May;72(5):669-675