Christopher Holmberg wants to help psychosis patients to a healthier life
Statistics have shown that people with long-term mental illness live on average 15-20 years shorter than others. Contrary to what many may belive, this is not due to the risk of suicide, but research shows that these patients have an increased risk of certain somatic diseases for which they often do not receive a diagnosis and adequate treatment.
Psychosis patients are over represented among several serious diagnoses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. For various reasons this group is both underdiagnosed and often receives inadequate care.
Christopher Holmberg, researcher at the Insitute of health and care sciences at the University of Gothenburg, wants his research to contribute to a greater understanding of the reasons for this and develop better health strategies for this patient group.
In 2011, the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare published several reports that testified that people with long-term mental illness such as psychoses, tend to have poorer access to appropriate somatic healthcare compared to other patients. Psychosis patients are at an increased risk of suffering from obesity-related diseases, which is due to several different factors such as symptoms, lifestyle and medical treatment that can often lead to weight gain. All in all, this explains a lot of why the average life expectancy for people with psychosis in Sweden is significantly shorter compared to the general population.
It is extremely important that medical staff who work in the psychiatric field also take physical illness very seriously and work both health-promoting and preventative
"With my research, I strive for a better understanding of physical health among patients in psychiatric outpatient care. We need to identify the causes, how they differ within the patient group and how we can strengthen the general health for these patients" says Christopher Holmberg.
Growth and creativity in spontaneous meetings
"My driving force is to be able to bring the research results into clinical practice and to be able to translate the findings into staff training and really be able to use our research results for development. This is what makes research so interesting and fun. Having said that - finding time is always a challenge. Both for me and for my colleagues".
"The current pandemic has been tough, as communication and interaction are made more difficult. By not running into colleagues, having informal chats, and spontaneous meetings, important and inspiring conversations are missing from my everday work life. I find these are very important in research and development as I believe creativity and stimulating talks are crucial components. You can often discuss ideas at lunch breaks and the like, but now such informal meetings are absent" says Christopher.
"The annual follow-ups in psychiatric outpatient care include an instrument that patients use to assess their own function within different dimensions (WHODAS-2.0, 12-question version). We did the first validation study on the Swedish version in people with psychosis. We were surprised at how adequate the psychometric tests turned out and that we saw such clear correlations for self-assessed function and factors that previous studies have shown to affect function such as people's age, type of housing and symptom assessment. Given that it was a naturalistic study, we probably did not expect such clear results. It was fun because it shows that the instrument seems to work as it is meant to work in this context as well!"
New way of working with health coaches
"We are currently conducting a needs survey to identify the needs and development potential of a new way of working with health coaches in outpatient psychosis health care. "
"To include the patients ', staff's and managers' experiences and perspectives, we have distributed questionnaires and conducted interviews".
We want to investigate how we can move forward with working with so called health coaches and gain a better understanding of how we can use healthcare resources in an optimal way.
Interest in active learning
"As for pedagogical research - which I also find exciting - I think an important question is how we engage students in active learning. That students understand that they must take responsibility for their own learning. In one study, a colleague and I evaluated how students experience conducting an examination in quality operations in so-called Active Learning Classrooms (ALC)."
Interdisciplinary background led to research
Christopher was born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden. "I have most of my family and relatives in the area so it feels natural for me to be based here"
"Since I started working in the home care service as a 17-year-old, I realized I wanted to work in the health care sector. At first I wanted to study to be a pharmacist but soon I came to the conclusion that I wanted a job that involved more human contact, so it was natural for me to study to become a registered nurse"
I am naturally very curious and as a person I like to question and problematize the state of things. Through research, you get an arena to do just that.
"As for my background in academia and research, it is very interdisciplinary, " says Christopher. "In addition to nursing, I have studied many other subjects. Both more science-oriented subjects such as nutrition, but also social science subjects such as public administration".
"I have also spent time at universities overseas in several rounds. I have been to Switzerland, Japan and the USA. It has been very rewarding experiences. In Japan, I was in Kodaira, an area in western Tokyo where I conducted research at the Japan National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry. In the United States, I spent some time at the University of Texas at El Paso, where I had contact with Professor Leah Whigham who works with outreach health promotion work a multidisciplinary group with a focus on obesity and diabetes.
- Bachelor's degree in Nursing, 2011
- Bachelor's degree in Health and Medical Administration, 2011
- Master's degree in Public Administration, 2013.
- Doctoral degree in Dietetics, from the Department of Nutrition and Sports Science, University of Gothenburg. 2018
- Lives In a very environmentally conscious housing association at in the city centre of Gothenburg.
- Tries to excersize a few times a week.
- Likes to go to pub quizzes
- Before the pandemic, sing karaoke, preferably at the Sing-Sing venue in Gothenburg which has real karaoke rooms.
- Christopher also has an assignment as a contact person in the community.
Since 2019, Christopher has had a part time position at the psychiatry and psychosis ward at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital. Christopher's role includes clinical research, teaching and organizational development.