Professor’s portrait: Health, health promotion and participation in focus
Health, health promotion and participation in healthcare are Petra Svedberg’s main research areas. She is particularly interested in two vulnerable groups: children and adolescents, and adults with mental ill health. Her research project is based on a participatory research and design process, which means that the people for whom the research is intended are also co-participants in the project.
“I found that a holistic perspective on health was missing, and research on how and what promotes health in people with mental illness was practically non-existent. I decided to study what health means and how to promote health in individuals with mental ill health.”
Petra Svedberg’s research project is based on a participatory research and design process, which means that the people for whom the research is intended are also co-participants in the project.
“I want my research to be significant and create value to the people themselves and to the activities that the research concerns.“
Her interest in research came from studying health science at Halmstad University while working as a clinical nurse at the psychiatric clinic in the city.
Health and health promotion
Petra Svedberg’s research field is about increasing knowledge of the processes that have a positive impact on the mental health of children and adolescents, as well as adults with mental ill health.
Her interest in this field emerged in conjunction with her thesis project on increasing knowledge about health and health-promoting factors in the care of people with mental ill health. Her dedication to the subject arose when she found that healthcare focused solely on the treatment of a person’s illness and symptoms.
”I found that a holistic perspective on health was missing, and research on how and what promotes health in people with mental illness was practically non-existent. I decided to study what health means and how to promote health in individuals with mental ill health.”
After defending her doctoral thesis “Health Promotion Intervention in Mental Health Services” in May 2007, Petra Svedberg continued to work in the field of psychiatry until 2009 when she was appointed senior lecturer at Halmstad University.
Individual right to participation
Petra Svedberg’s other research fields are about increasing knowledge of how participation can be applied in the context of practical care of children, adolescents, and adults who suffer from mental ill health.
Two ongoing research projects are about developing digital innovations that change approaches and communication patterns between children and healthcare staff, as well as between pupils and teachers in school. A third research project is about developing an interactive digital decision-support tool that allows the patient to participate in their own treatment process in psychiatric care.
”What the projects have in common is that the user plays a key role in the development of these digital innovations. Since the research is about the promotion of individual participation in healthcare and school, it is important that the user’s needs and values are in focus”, says Petra Svedberg.
From knowledge generation to utilisation
Since 2013, Petra Svedberg has been a driving force in developing an interdisciplinary research team at Halmstad University concerning children’s health and sustainable childhood. In collaboration with the region, municipality and industry, she has created the conditions necessary for several doctoral students to study in this field. Her ambition is for the University to be an important societal actor, where research proceeds from knowledge generation to utilisation and value creation in society. For Petra Svedberg, it is important that research makes a difference in society and does not simply remain within the field of science.
“As a professor, I also have an important responsibility to help promote the development of third-cycle studies in health and lifestyle, as well as to supervise doctoral students and support recent PhD graduates and my future colleagues to pursue further research. I want to continue to promote and work on national and international collaboration issues as it is of great importance that Halmstad University’s research creates value and benefit to society at large.”
Petra Svedberg was born in 1973 and grew up in Dalstorp in the Swedish region of Västergötland. In 1993, she completed her degree in nursing, specialising in psychiatric care, at Halmstad University. In 2007, she defended her doctoral thesis “Health Promotion Intervention in Mental Health Services” at Lund University. Petra Svedberg became aassociate professor of nursing in 2012 and was appointed Professor of Nursing at Halmstad University in 2016. She previously worked within Region Halland as a psychiatric nurse. Today, she is the head of the subject of Nursing, and manager of the research environment Centre of Research on Welfare, Health and Sport at Halmstad University. She is also part of the management team of the national research network, the Centre for Evidence-based Psychosocial Interventions for people with severe mental illness (CEPI).
Text: Hanna Carmvall
Translation: Communications, Lund University
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