Eva Samuelsson

Eva Samuelsson


Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of Social Work
Telephone 08-16 17 54
Visiting address Sveavägen 160, Sveaplan
Room 643
Postal address Institutionen för socialt arbete 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I have a PhD in social work and conduct research on gambling and substance use problems and organisation of care and treatment for such problems. Previously I have worked as a social worker in social services and substance abuse care. Currently I am conducting a post doc project concerning help-seeking for gambling problems. 


I am teaching at the Department of Social Work at Stockholm University and in other contexts on topics such as service user involvement, gambling and substance use problems, organisation of support, care and treatment and motivational interviewing (MI).


The post doc project Dilemmas of help-seeking – needs, experiences and barriers of contact with care in the case of gambling and alcohol problems is financed by Forte and will take place during 2018 and 2019. The project is part of the Department of Public Health Sciences research program on gambling problems – REGAPS (Responding to and Reducing Gambling Problems Studies) which includes research on availability of support and treatment, measurement, comorbidity and policy impacts.

Together with researchers at the Department of Public Health Sciences I am conducting interviews to understand the declining drinking habits among youth.

At the Department of Social Work the research project The right decision at the right time: a study of craving and relapse is conducted. The aim is to investigate how craving and relapse are experienced and coped with in natural contexts and to explore if relapse prevention programmes are equipped to handle the dilemmas that people with addiction problems face.

I finished my PhD in 2015. The aim of the thesis Use or misuse? Addiction care practitioners’ perceptions of substance use and treatment was to study boundary-making in addiction care practitioner’s perceptions of substance use and treatment. The four papers were based on two quantitative surveys and a focus group interview study. Boundary-making was actualized in differentiating between various substances, with alcohol use being perceived as a less severe problem than narcotics use and requiring less comprehensive treatment measures. Boundary-making processes were also found in relation to the specific user’s age, family situation, socio-economic status and in some cases gender, with young women’s drinking being assessed to be more severe than young men’s drinking for example. It was concluded that to avoid disparities in addiction care delivery, it is of major importance that practitioners are given room to reflect on the assumptions and values that underlie the assessments made in practice.

I have previously studied change trajectories in gambling habits and problems with Kristina Sundqvist and Jenny Cisneros Örnberg.

Previously I have also worked with a project about service user involvement in substance abuse practice. 


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2019. Eva Samuelsson, Peter Wennberg, Kristina Sundqvist. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 36 (2), 140-160

    The Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) is a screening instrument frequently used to identify risk and problem gambling. Even though the PGSI has good psychometric properties, it still produces a large proportion of misclassifications. Aims: To explore possible reasons for misclassifications in problem gambling level by analysing previously classified moderate-risk gamblers’ answers to the PGSI items, in relation to their own current and past gambling behaviours. Methods: Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 19 participants reporting no negative consequences from gambling. They were asked the PGSI questions within an eight-year time frame (2008 to 2016). Ambiguous answers to PGSI items were subject to content analysis. Results: Several answers to the PGSI items contained ambiguities and misinterpretations, making it difficult to assess to what extent their answers actually indicated any problematic gambling over time. The item about feelings of guilt generated accounts rather reflecting self-recrimination over wasting money or regretting gambling as a meaningless or immoral activity. The item concerning critique involved mild interpretations such as being ridiculed for buying lottery tickets or getting comments for being boring. Similar accounts were given by the participants irrespective of initial endorsement of the items. Other possible reasons for misclassifications were related to recall bias, language difficulties, selective memory, and a tendency to answer one part of the question without taking the whole question into account. Conclusions: Answers to the PGSI can contain a variety of meanings based on the respondents’ subjective interpretations. Reports of lower levels of harm in the population should thus be interpreted with caution. In clinical settings it is important to combine use of screening instruments with interviews, to be able to better understand gamblers’ perceptions of the gambling behaviour and its negative consequences.

  • 2019. Jukka Törrönen (et al.).

    Recent surveys have found a strong decrease in alcohol consumption among young people and this trend has been identified in European countries, Australia and North America. Previous research suggests that the decline in alcohol consumption may be explained by changes in parenting style, increased use of social media, changes in gender identities or a health and fitness trend. We use qualitative interviews with drinking and non-drinking young people from Sweden (N=49) to explore in what way and in what kinds of contexts these explanations may hold true and how they alone or together may explain declining alcohol consumption among young people. By using the pragmatist approach, we pay attention to what kinds of concerns, habits, practices, situations and meanings our interviewees relate to adolescents' low alcohol consumption or decline in drinking. By analyzing these matters, we aim to specify the social mechanisms that have reduced adolescents' drinking. Our paper discovers social mechanisms similar to previous studies but also a few that have previously been overlooked. We proposethattheculturalpositionofdrinkingmayhavechangedamongyoungpeoplesothatdrinkinghaslostits unquestioned symbolic power as a rite of passage into adulthood. There is less peer pressure to drink and more room for competing activities. This opening of a homogeneous drinking culture to the acceptance of differences may function as a social mechanism that increases the success of other social mechanisms to reduce adolescents' drinking. Furthermore, the results of the paper suggest a hypothesis of the early maturation of young people as more individualized, responsible, reflective, and adult-like actors than in earlier generations. Overall, the paper provides hypotheses for future quantitative studies to examine the prevalence and distribution of the identified social mechanisms, as well as recommends directions for developing effective interventions to support young people's healthy lifestyle choices

  • 2019. Eva Samuelsson, Sundqvist Kristina.

    Överdrivet spelande om pengar kan få ekonomiska, känslomässiga och sociala konsekvenser i olika grad. Hur spelare själva upplever bekymren är centralt för huruvida de kommer att försöka förändra sina spelvanor. Men vad är det egentligen vi fångar när vi mäter problemspelande i befolkningen? Vi har undersökt hur spelare som tidigare bedömts ha ett problemspelande tolkar frågorna som användes vid just denna bedömning.

  • 2018. Johanna K. Loy (et al.). SUCHT 64 (5-6), 259-272

    Background: There is evidence for low rates of help-seeking among problem gamblers. Identifying reasons for and barriers to seeking help is essential for improving help supply and gamblers’ treatment utilisation. The present study examines treatment utilisation of problem or pathological gamblers and reviews the evidence related to motives for and barriers to seeking help. Methods: The databases Medline, PsycInfo, and PubMed were searched for English-, Swedish- and German-language studies published between 2000 and 2017. Furthermore relevant references of included studies were analysed. Results: After exclusion of non-relevant publications 34 journal articles and seven reports covering the prevalence of help-seeking among gamblers or self-reported reasons for/barriers to help-seeking were maintained. The proportion of problem gamblers seeking help was less than 10 % in most studies. Problem severity was found positively associated with treatment attendance. Financial issues, negative emotions and crises were identified as main motives for seeking treatment. Main barriers to seeking treatment were shame, problem denial and lack of treatment availability. The results were similar across the examined studies. Conclusion: Low rates of treatment utilisation by problem gamblers strongly indicate that treatment providers and the society should strive to eliminate structural barriers that hinder gamblers to seek help. To better match problem gamblers´ needs, low-threshold early intervention, increasing knowledge of treatment options and efforts to reduce stigmatisation are important strategies to enhance access to help offers.

  • 2018. Eva Samuelsson, Kristina Sundqvist, Binde Per. Addiction Research and Theory

    Background: Gambling participation and problems change over time and are influenced by a variety of individual and contextual factors. However, gambling research has only to a small extent studied gamblers’ own perceptions of transitions in and out of problem gambling.

    Method: Qualitative telephone interviews were made with 40 gamblers who had repeatedly participated in the Swelogs Swedish Longitudinal Gambling Study. The framework approach was used for analyses, resulting in a multiple-linkage typology.

    Results: Our analyses revealed four configurations of gambling: (a) stable low frequency with no or minor harm, (b) decreasing high frequency with occasional harm, (c) fluctuating with moderate harm, and (d) increasing high frequency with substantial harm. Natural recovery and return to previous levels of gambling intensity were common. Change occurred either gradually, as a result of adjustment to altered personal circumstances, or drastically as a consequence of determined decisions to change. Personal and contextual factors such as psychological well-being, supportive relationships, and meaningful leisure activities played a part in overcoming harmful gambling and keeping gambling on a non-problematic level. Gambling advertising was commonly perceived as aggressive and triggering.

    Conclusions: The experience of harm is highly subjective, which should be taken into account when developing preventive measures. Considering the fluid character of gambling problems, help and support should be easily accessible and diversified. To repeatedly be interviewed about gambling and its consequences can contribute to increased reflection on, and awareness of, one’s own behaviours and the societal impacts of gambling.

  • 2018. David Forsström, Eva Samuelsson.

    Den 1 januari 2018 genomfördes lagändringar som innebar ett förtydligat ansvar för socialtjänsten samt hälso-och sjukvården att förebygga, motverka och bistå individer med insatser vid spelmissbruk. Syftet med föreliggande studie var att undersöka utbudet av stöd och behandling vid spelproblem innan lagändringen trädde i kraft. En sammanställning av befintliga uppgifter från Folkhälsomyndigheten och Stödlinjen gjordes. Intervjuer genomfördes med sexton nyckelpersoner inom spelbehandlingsfältet från kommuner, landsting, myndigheter och frivilligorganisationer. Intervjumaterialet analyserades med hjälp av tematisk analys. Preliminära resultat presenterades för en grupp behandlare för att validera och få kommentarer. Undersökningen visade att stödet för personer med spelproblem varierar i landet och är fragmentariskt. På vissa orter finns behandling att tillgå, men dagens behandlingsutbud bygger på enskilda behandlare som har ett specialintresse för målgruppen. Det är ofta bara en till två behandlare i en organisation som arbetar med målgruppen vilket skapar en sårbarhet. Få personer utbildas på övergripande nivå och om en behandlare slutar ersätts sällan personen. Den behandling som erbjuds är huvudsakligen kognitiv beteendeterapi. Det finns behov av att utveckla mer specifika och integrerade behandlingsalternativ till olika målgrupper. Frivilligorganisationer fyller en viktig funktion genom att erbjuda stöd som komplement till behandling eller som alternativ och när behandling inte finns tillgänglig. Det huvudsakliga resultatet är att kommuner och landsting är dåligt rustade för att möta att målgruppen. Resurser och kompetens saknas på många håll för att tillhandahålla stöd och behandling som kan hjälpa hjälpsökande att komma ur ett problemspelande. Mer satsning på utbildning och screening föreslås som sätt att åtgärda bristerna. Även om utvecklingsarbete påbörjats innebär lagändringarna en stor utmaning för kommuner och landsting för att få till fungerande samverkan för att tillmötesgå spelares och deras anhörigas behov. En uppföljning av föreliggande studie planeras under 2019/2020 för att kartlägga hur behandlingsutbudet har utvecklats efter att lagändringen trädde i kraft.

  • 2018. Jessica Storbjörk, Eva Samuelsson. Socialtjänstmarknaden, 85-115

    Kapitlet behandlar brukarinflytande inom missbruks- och beroendevården och diskuterar den potentiella konflikten mellan denna företeelse och New Public Management (NPM). Kapitlet diskuterar hur företeelser som ofta förknippas med NPM (t.ex. upphandling och ramavtal, valfrihet, prestationsbaserade ersättningssystem) inverkar på handlingsutrymme och vårdbeslut utifrån personalens och brukarnas utsagor, liksom hur klienter och patienter ser på sina möjlighetertill inflytande i en NPM-inspirerad vård.

  • 2016. Jessica Storbjörk (et al.).

    Demands for service user involvement has a long history in the general health and welfare sectors in Sweden, but user involvement has been lagging behind as concerns substance abuse treatment. “The position of the service user in substance treatment: A study of user involvement in practice” therefore sought to analyze perceptions of user involvement and the extent to which alcohol and drug users in this treatment sector can influence the choice of intervention in their own case. The study included both the perspectives of the service users and their professional service providers. The relationship between user involvement, satisfaction, and outcomes were explored, as well as potential differences in perceptions and experiences between various service user groups and service providers. The study applied a qualitative research approach by interviewing 36 service users and 23 service providers (pairs of service users and providers), and following them up three months later.

    The primary goal of the present technical report was to provide a quantitative exploration of research participant characteristics, user involvement and treatment satisfaction by different groups, including outcomes. The report uses tabular formats as well as several summaries of interview accounts. The report also outlines our theoretical point of departure and detailed information concerning the research methods and methodological considerations.

    [A Swedish summary is available in the report]

  • 2015. Eva Samuelsson, Lisa Wallander. Addiction Research and Theory 23 (6), 469-480

    The aim of the study was to analyze addiction care staff (N=447) perceptions of needs for psychosocial and medical treatment, and possibilities for self-change in relation to fictitious cases. By means of a factorial survey and multilevel analysis, the importance of user, respondent and work characteristics were estimated, with a particular focus on the comparison between healthcare staff and social services staff. Healthcare staff were more skeptical than social services staff towards self-change and assessed the need for medical treatment to be greater. Despite the ongoing medicalisation of Swedish addiction care, psychosocial interventions were still seen as a central part of treatment by both groups. The importance of user characteristics for the assessments was surprisingly similar across the two groups of staff, suggesting that staff perceptions are analogous to the governing images of substance use and treatment needs that prevail in society.

  • 2015. Eva Samuelsson. Contemporary Drug Problems 42 (3), 188-208

    Men’s and women’s drinking tend to elicit different societal reactions, which may be attributed to different perceptions of masculinity and femininity. This study analyzes addiction care practitioners’ constructions of substance use and treatment needs in relation to gender. Data were collected by means of six focus group interviews with 30 addiction care practitioners. An interpretative repertoire of difference emerged, whereby women were constructed as being different from men in psychological, social, and biological respects. The practitioners related to gender in addiction care as an ideological dilemma resulting from the contradictory ideals of on the one hand treating everybody equally and on the other giving special attention to what is regarded as women’s needs. Reflections emerged regarding the need to be aware of one’s own stereotyped assumptions, and also to be attentive toward men’s specific problems, thus constituting a reflective repertoire. In order to avoid potentially stereotyped treatment, the application of a gender-sensitive approach should acknowledge the variety of ways in which femininity and masculinity may be performed.

  • Thesis (Doc) Use or Misuse?
    2015. Eva Samuelsson (et al.).

    The aim of this thesis has been to study boundary-making in addiction care practitioner’s perceptions of substance use and treatment. The four papers are based on three data collections in Swedish outpatient addiction care: a) a survey conducted in 2006 (n=655), b) a factorial survey using randomly constructed vignettes conducted in 2011 (n=474), and c) a focus group interview study from 2013 (n=30) with a sample of the respondents from the factorial survey.

    The analyses show that practitioners tend to draw boundaries between various forms of substance use, with alcohol use being perceived as a less severe problem than narcotics use and requiring less extensive treatment measures. There are also partially varying perceptions in different parts of addiction care. By comparison with social services staff, regional healthcare staff generally see a greater need for treatment, recommend medical treatment to a greater extent, and display less confidence in the possibility of handling problematic use without professional treatment. Despite an ongoing medicalization at the policy level, psychosocial treatment interventions appear to have legitimacy in both regional healthcare and social services settings.

    Boundary-making processes are also found in relation to the specific user’s age, family situation, socio-economic status and in some cases gender, with young women’s drinking being seen as more severe than young men’s drinking for example. The boundary-making between different substance users may be interpreted as a sign of an approach based on a professional consideration of the person’s socially exposed situation, which might require more comprehensive support. At the same time, it may be an expression of a stereotyped approach, involving a normative evaluation of women’s behaviour as being more deviant than men’s, thereby having a limiting effect on the conduct norms that regulate women’s behaviour and making the problems of men invisible. To avoid disparities in addiction care delivery, it is of major importance that practitioners are given room to reflect upon the assumptions and values that underlie the assessments they make in practice. Combining a factorial survey with focus group interviews is proposed as one means of facilitating this type of reflection. 

  • 2014. Eva Samuelsson, Lisa Wallander. Addiction Research and Theory 22 (4), 348-360

    The aim of this study was to examine the influence of user, staff and work unit characteristics on addiction care practitioners’ assessments of the severity of alcohol and drug use. A factorial survey was conducted among 489 social workers, therapists, nurses, doctors and executives from 77 addiction care units in the three largest Swedish counties. Staff assessed the severity of 10 fictive scenarios, vignettes (n = 4724), describing persons with varying social characteristics who were users of alcohol, cannabis or cocaine. The effects of user, respondent and work-unit variables on the practitioners’ severity assessments were estimated using multilevel regression analysis. The results show that perceived severity was influenced not only by the substance, the frequency and character of the negative consequences of the use, but also by the age, socio-economic status and family situation of the user. Women, older respondents and respondents with a medical education rather than a social work education were on average more inclined to assess the vignettes as being more severe. Analyses of various interactions revealed that practitioners viewed the drinking of young men as being less severe than that of young women. Doctors saw women's use as more problematic than men's, irrespective of the context. To conclude, alcohol and drug consumption is judged by different norms, depending on various characteristics of the users, of the practitioners and also of their workplaces. To avoid potential negative consequences of the application of such varying standards in addiction care, more individual reflection and workgroup discussion are needed.

  • 2013. Eva Samuelsson, Jan Blomqvist, Irja Christophs.

    AIMS - The objective of the study was to explore perceptions of different addictions among Swedish addiction care personnel. DATA - A survey was conducted with 655 addiction care professionals in the social services, health care and criminal care in Stockholm County. Respondents were asked to rate the severity of nine addictions as societal problems, the individual risk to getting addicted, the possibilities for self-change and the perceived significance of professional treatment in finding a solution. RESULTS - The images of addiction proved to vary greatly according to its object. At one end of the spectrum were addictions to hard drugs, which were judged to be very dangerous to society, highly addictive and very hard to quit. At the other end of the spectrum were smoking and snuff use, which were seen more as bad habits than real addictions. Some consistent differences were detected between respondents from different parts of the treatment system. The most obvious was a somewhat greater belief in self-change among social services personnel, a greater overall change pessimism among professionals in the criminal care system and a somewhat higher risk perception and stronger emphasis on the necessity of treatment among medical staff. CONCLUSION - Professionals’ views in this area largely coincide with the official governing images displayed in the media, and with lay peoples’ convictions.

Show all publications by Eva Samuelsson at Stockholm University

Last updated: May 29, 2019

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