Well-Being and Health

“As a river that forgets its source will dry up, well-being will extinguish without health. Research about well-being and health from the Nordic perspective is critical amidst accelerating social and environmental changes.”

Grace Chang, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, USA, (international advisor)

Theme leaders

Valerie DeMarinis

Fred Nyberg

Aim: The theme’s central aim is to contribute new knowledge in a cultural perspective to the nature and function of existential meaning and meaning-making in relation to wellbeing and health, at individual, group, institutional, legal and societal levels of interaction. The aim also includes the development of an approach to and models for including existential information in and for healthcare settings in Nordic contexts.


Researchers and Advisors

Research projects

Cemetary Architecture: Meaning.making, Intentions and Experiences

Existential needs and experiences in relation to induced abortion

Immigration, Healtcare and Existential Questions

Moral and Identity Development among Adolescents

Public Mental Health Promotion

Religion, Stress and Well-being

Right to Health

The influence of healthcare worker personal worldviews on their duty to provide good healthcare

Traumatic Experiences and Meaning Making

Finalised research projects


Health care
Right to health
Medical law
Stress research
Public Mental Health
Traumatic Experiences
Moral and Identity Development
Existential health and epidemiology

Well-Being and Health

The importance of accessing existential information, with special focus on how it affects meaning-making in daily living, is an established area of healthcare research internationally. 

In secular contexts such as the Nordic countries, this research area is under studied, in large part due to the lack of fit between existing research models approaching the topic and the particular nature of Nordic cultural- and societal perceptions of- and healthcare guidelines related to understanding religion, spirituality, and existential information in general. The theme addresses just this healthcare research area from a Nordic perspective.

Completed research projects have investigated existential information and function in the areas of transcultural psychiatry, abortion research, addiction treatment, migration studies, medical law, and stress research involving different patient groups, healthcare teams, and the general population. The project results provide in-depth evidence, in accordance with international findings, of the need for understanding and including existential information-gathering in clinical and applied research, in order to sufficiently explore meaning-making processes. This need is essential not least for healthcare policy and practice in secular contexts such as Sweden. It is also necessary to approach these research questions from a legal perspective as the realization of health care is dynamic and done in a pluralistic legal environment, encompassing national and European law. Completed studies have also shown that healthcare systems and organisations are cultural products and thereby need culture-tested strategies for integration of existential information into healthcare and community-care services. It is also clear that multi-disciplinary, multi-dimensional, and multi-sectoral strategies for research and implementation of existential information in healthcare are essential.

The sum of the research findings from projects 2008-2013 has exceeded the unique knowledge of the individual projects, in that the area of Public Mental Health Promotion and Existential Health has been created. This is a multi-disciplinary research area that is coordinated through the Impact program, and from 2014 together with our Norwegian clinical research partner organisation, Innlandet Hospital Trust, through the Center for Psychology of Religion and the National Research Center on Dual Diagnosis.  From 2015 the partnership also includes Umeå University Medical School through the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Unit of Family Medicine.

Last modified: 2021-03-12