Jan Olov Blomqvist

Jan Olov Blomqvist

Professor, Emeritus

Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of Public Health Sciences
Visiting address Sveavägen 160, Sveaplan
Room 361
Postal address Institutionen för folkhälsovetenskap 106 91 Stockholm


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2017. Jan Blomqvist. Dogmer som dödar, 291-311
  • Article Addiction
    2014. Derek Heim (et al.). Nature 507, 40-40
  • 2014. Jan Blomqvist (et al.).
  • 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.

  • 2013. Jan Blomqvist. Hjälpande möten i vård och omvärld, 182-210
  • 2012. Jan Blomqvist. Addiction Research and Theory 20 (5), 435-446

    Respondents to a representative population survey were asked to rate four psychoactive substances (tobacco, alcohol, cannabis and ‘hard’ drugs) with regard to their severity to society and addictiveness, as well as the options for recovery, with and without treatment, from an addiction to the same substances. This article explores if and how these ratings differ with regard to respondents’ socio-demographic characteristics, their own and close persons’ substance use experiences, and, their attitudes towards people with substance use problems. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics and logistic or linear regressions. Although the main difference goes between respondents’ perceptions of various substances and addictions, the results also point to some interesting differences with regard to respondents’ experiences and characteristics. Thus for example, women and respondents with no personal substance use experiences, tend to play up the severity and addictiveness of most substances, and to play down the options for untreated recovery from an addiction, whereas current risk users tend to take an opposite view. Main interpretations are that there is a general tendency to exaggerate the hazards of and risks with habits that are perceived as unfamiliar and alien, that current risk users at the same time dwell on a ‘false hope’ of being able to quit, and that women are, for various reasons, more inclined than men to worry about their own substance use habits, as well as those in their close environment. Potential implications, for further research as well as for policy and prevention, are discussed.

  • 2012. Jan Blomqvist. Handbok i missbrukspsykologi - teori och tillämpning, 152-169
  • 2012. Jan Blomqvist. Samhället, alkoholen och drogerna., 14-43
  • 2012. John A. Cunningham (et al.). Harm Reduction Journal 9, 21

    Background: Differences in beliefs about Cannabis were compared between Canada, Sweden and Finland using nationally representative population surveys containing similar items. Findings: Compared to Finnish and Swedish respondents, Canadians were both more likely to have tried Cannabis and to view Cannabis as a less serious problem for society. Conclusions: These findings emphasize the extent to which views about Cannabis can vary. It is possible that views about Cannabis are, at least in part, a social construction influenced by media, social policy and exposure to the drug that varies from country to country.

  • 2014. Jan Blomqvist, Anja Koski-Jännes, John Cunningham. Drugs and Alcohol Today 14 (1), 19-30

    Purpose – Although the way in which, for example, substance use problems are conceived and reacted to (by experts and treatment professionals but also by the environment), can have vast consequences for those directly or indirectly concerned, there is little systematic knowledge about how various preferred approaches differ between types of problems and sociocultural settings. In an ambition to at least partly mend this gap, this paper aims to compare how the general public in Sweden, Finland, and Canada appraise four generically different approaches to dealing with substance use problems, as these are applied to problem use of alcohol, cannabis, heroin, and cigarettes.

    Design/methodology/approach – The paper uses data from three national surveys, aimed at uncovering how representative population samples from Sweden, Finland, and Canada perceive and understand the character of, and the proper way of handling, various addictive problems. Data from these surveys have been used to discern and operationalize four basic “models of helping and coping” as these have been outlined by Brickman et al. (1982). The analysis has aimed at investigating how the popular preferences for either of these models vary with type of addiction (to cigarettes, alcohol, cannabis, and other (“hard”) drugs, national setting, and potentially important respondent characteristics.

    Findings – The results point to large differences between the ways in which the general public understands the proper way of handling the four types of addiction, and shows, for example, that addiction to “hard” drugs is predominantly perceived as a matter for expert treatment, whereas smoking, or addiction to cigarettes, is more often perceived as a bad habit which the user is able to break on her/his own. In addition, the popularity of different handling models is found to vary between countries, and with personal characteristics such as gender, age, and substance use experiences.

    Originality/value – The study is one of few that have systematically tried to find out how various forms of substance use problems, or addiction, are conceived and reacted to in various national and social settings.

  • 2012. Jan Blomqvist. Handbok i missbrukspsykologi - teori och tillämpning, 422-435
  • 2011. Jan Blomqvist. Narkotika. Om problem och politik., 161-185
  • 2011. Tanja Hirschowitz-Gerz (et al.). Research on Finnish Society 4, 41-54
  • 2011. Johan Edman, Jan Blomqvist. Narkotika. Om problem och politik, 101-137
  • 2011. Kari Holma (et al.). European Addiction Research 17 (2), 106-112

    Aims: This study reports on the relative gravity people attribute to various addictive behaviors with respect to other societal concerns in four northern populations with different history, social policy and treatment alternatives for addicted individuals. Methods: Random population surveys were conducted in Canada, Sweden, Finland and St. Petersburg, Russia. In Finland and Sweden, the survey was conducted by mail, in Canada and St. Petersburg by phone. As a part of this survey, the respondents were asked to assess the gravity of various societal problems, some of which involved various addictive behaviors. The data were analyzed by descriptive statistical methods, factor analysis, contextual analysis and multiple regression analysis. Results: Hard drugs, criminality and environmental issues belonged to the topmost problems in all data samples. Overall, Finns and Canadians appeared the least worried about various societal problems, Swedes seemed the most worried and St. Petersburgian views were the most polarized. Two factors were extracted from the combined data. Factor 1 covered criminal behavior and various addictions; it was named Threats to Safety factor. Factor 2 comprised social equality issues. The country context explained 12.5% of the variance of the safety factor and 7.9% of the equality factor. Conclusions: Despite some cultural variation in the gravity assessments, the central core of the social representation of addictive behaviors tends still to be linked with 'badness' since they were mainly grouped with various forms of criminal behavior in all these countries.

  • 2010. Jan Blomqvist. Abhängigkeiten
  • 2009. Jan Blomqvist, Jessica Palm, Jessica Storbjörk. Drugs 16 (6), 479-496

    This article deals with the development of drug services in Stockholm, Sweden since the mid-1990s. Initially, data were collected as part of a European Union comparative study of the development of drug services in six major European cities. However, the present article uses these data to analyse to what extent the traditional 'Swedish model' of dealing with narcotic drugs can be said to have come to a crossroad. The article describes and analyses changes in drug use, and in the structure, organization and utilization of social services based, as well as healthcare-based drug services in Stockholm during the past decade. As pointed out in the article, the 'drug-free society' is still the ultimate goal of Swedish drug policy. However, as the Stockholm example hints, when it comes to the care and treatment of individual drug problems, there seems to be an on-going shift, from in-patient treatment towards measures such as substitution treatment, outpatient care and housing. The article discusses whether these changes signify a softening of Sweden's restrictive drug policy, or whether they rather point to a 're-medicalization' of drug services, and shift in focus from 'cure' and social re-integration towards a focus on 'care' and on attempts to avoid 'public nuisance'.

  • 2009. Jan Blomqvist. Alkohol och droger., 137-165
  • 2009. Lisa Wallander, Jan Blomqvist. Journal of social service research 35 (1), 47-64

    With the aim of examining predictors of social workers' ideal recommendations of inpatient or outpatient treatment for problem substance users, this study applied multilevel logistic regression to factorial survey data collected from a sample of 205 frontline social workers from 36 social services units in Sweden. The results show that social workers' ideal recommendations of inpatient or outpatient treatment are based on evaluations of a number of client characteristics. These include the clients' treatment preferences, their primary drug, levels of social resources, and age. In addition, it was found that professional recommendations are also determined by treatment availability and policy guidelines, and by the decision makers' own ideological convictions regarding alcohol and narcotics problems. This study brings to light the necessity of organizational routines that allow and encourage social workers to reflect on and to articulate their judgements and decisions.

  • 2009. Irja Christophs, Jan Blomqvist, Maria Abrahamson. Mot en bättre missbrukarvård?
  • 2009. Jan Blomqvist. Mot en bättre missbrukarvård.
  • 2009. Jan Blomqvist. Mot en bättre missbrukarvård?
  • 2009. Jan Blomqvist. Evidence and Practical Knowledge in Substance Abuse Treatment. A basis for discussion., 69-87
  • 2009. Jan Blomqvist. Mot en bättre missbrukarvård?
  • 2009. Jan Blomqvist. Missbruk och behandling.Gamla problem - nya lösningar?
  • 2009. Jan Blomqvist. Nordic Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 26 (4), 373-398

    AimsTo investigate potentially crucial aspects of Swedes' perceptions of nine different addictions

    Data and methodsPopulation survey, sent out to 2,000 adult Swedes (18-74 years), focusing on the perceived severity of, responsibility for, options to recover from, and character of addiction to cigarettes, snuff, alcohol, cannabis, amphetamine, cocaine, heroin, medical drugs, and gambling.

    ResultsThere are large differences in the ways in which various addiction problems are perceived. Whereas tobacco use, and to some extent gambling, are seen as relatively harmless "habits", not particularly easy to get hooked on but easy to quit, the use of drugs such as heroin, amphetamine, and cocaine is seen as a major societal problem, and users are seen both as "sinners" who need to mend their ways and as powerless "victims". In between comes the use and misuse of alcohol, cannabis and medical drugs, about which perceptions are more divided.

    ConclusionsRespondents tend to downplay the risks and dangers with addictive habits that are common and familiar in mainstream culture, and to dramatise the risks and dangers with such habits that are uncommon or "strange". This may have unfortunate consequences for addicts' options to find a path out of their predicaments.

  • 2008. Jan Blomqvist.

    After years of relative neglect addiction care and treatment has, during the new millennium, again come to the attention of authorities and policy makers in Sweden. To a large part, this new interest has taken the form of developing addiction care into an “evidence-based practice” by the implementation of scientifically underpinned treatment methods. Another part has been the allocation of special resources to increase the use of coercive care. Based on results from topical research on the state-of-art of the Swedish addiction care system, and on “self-change” from various forms of addiction problems, the presentation will argue that neither “more resources” nor “better methods” are necessarily what is most urgently needed to develop more responsive and better-working means to counter addiction problems in Sweden. Among topics that will be discussed in the presentation is the “revolving-door” character of the present care system, why the majority of problem substance users refrain from seeking contact with the system, and some problems attached to the EBP concept as a basis for addiction care. As an alternative, the presentation will point to the need for broader and more flexible social strategies to counter addiction problems.

  • 2008. Jan Blomqvist.
  • 2008. Jan Blomqvist.
  • 2008. Jan Blomqvist.
  • 2008. Jan Blomqvist.
  • 2008. Jan Blomqvist.
  • 2008. Jan Blomqvist.

    One of the motives behind the call for evidence-based practice and the launching of national guidelines for the care and treatment of addiction problems has been the wish to implement new steering forces for what clients are offered by the system. Thus, the argument has gone, we need to abandon legal and bureaucratic rules, logistics and economy, staff policy etc. as the main decisive factors behind what clients are offered, in favour of a commitment to creating the best possible outcome in the individual case. At the same time, many practitioners have felt that a strong demand to adhere to “top-down” guidelines, formulated by experts, threatens their professional self-esteem and identity, and deprives their interaction with the client of human and moral content. Against the background of a brief overview over recent attempts to “evidence-base” addiction care in Sweden, this presentation will discuss various ways of interpreting concepts such as “evidence based” and “knowledge based”, and various claims concerning what types of knowledge that are needed to be able to create more responsive and effective treatment systems. In addition, some suggestions will be put forward as to how we might be able to reconcile expert and everyday knowledge, and create a fruitful interaction between practice and research.

  • 2008. Jan Blomqvist.
  • 2008. Jan Blomqvist.
  • 2004. Pia Rosenqvist (et al.).
  • 2003. Jan Blomqvist. Oberoende (2), 6-9
  • 2003. Jan Blomqvist. Blir det bättre med behandling?, 35-49
  • 2002. Jan Blomqvist, D. Cameron. Addiction Research and Theory 10 (2), 115-118
  • 2002. Jan Blomqvist. Addiction Research and Theory 10 (2), 119-158

    An earlier Swedish study compared assisted and unassisted misusers of alcohol, with different long-term drinking outcomes, with regard to drinking patterns, significant life events, and attributions as to what initiated and maintained recovery. It was found that environmental influences had a great, albeit somewhat different impact on the recovery processes in both assisted and unassisted subjects. A subsequent replication of this study, but on drug misusers, produced similar findings. The present paper uses data from both those studies to explore substance-specific characteristics in treated and untreated recovery from addiction problems. Comparisons include background data, substance use and life event data over an extended period surrounding the resolution, and subjects' perceived reasons for the resolution and for being able to maintain an alcohol problem-free or a drug-free lifestyle. The results are discussed from the perspective of differences in the social significance of drinking and drug use and the institutionalised response in Sweden to alcohol- and drug-related problems.Read More:

  • 2002. Jan Blomqvist. Addiction 91 (2), 136-137
  • 2001. Jan Blomqvist. Nordisk Alkohol- og narkotikatidsskrift (NAT) 18 (2), 163-174
  • 2001. Harald H.J. Klingemann (et al.).
  • Thesis (Doc) Beyond treatment?
    1998. Jan Blomqvist, Douglas Cameron.

    The dissertation includes four different studies which, from different points of departure, aim to illuminate problems and prospects of social work with alcohol problems in contemporary Sweden.

    Paper 1 analyses the historical succession of predominant public images of, and societal responses to, alcohol problems in Sweden during the past century. The analysis distinguishes between a moral, an enlightenment, a medical and a compensatory approach to these problems. The main development in society's handling of alcohol problems is described to have been a gradual shift from the moral to the medical approach, despite the fact that the compensatory approach is in many respects the one most akin to the general social policy ideal of Sweden. The paper concludes by discussing the future prospects of community-based approaches to alcohol problems, relying on the assumptions of the latter approach.

    Paper 2 scrutinises, based on reanalyses of a variety of empirical sources, developments within residential care for substance misusers in Sweden during the past three decades. The results of these analyses belie several popular notions about the role of institutions in social work with alcohol problems. Thus they show, in contrast to claims in some public reports, that the annual number of alcohol misusers cared for decreased during most of the 1980s, already before the major decrease in the beginning of the 1990s. Further, they show that residential care has - despite a growing "treatment rhetoric" over the years - been primarily utilised for a rather small group of long-term misusers with severe social problems, and with a pattern of repeated - and often prematurely interrupted - admissions and readmissions over a long succession of years.

    Paper 3 reviews and discusses the significance of research on "spontaneous recovery" from substance misuse and treatment outcome research. The paper outlines and develops further the notion that there may be "common elements" or mechanisms in all successful change processes, whether these include professional interventions or not. Formal treatment is further discussed in terms of temporary interventions in the client's life course, which may, if successful, facilitate and accelerate "naturally" occurring rehabilitation processes. The paper concludes by proposing a closer integration of research on "spontaneous recovery" and treatment outcome research, as a way of learning more about the potential interplay between life events, formal interventions and change of lifestyle.

    Paper 4 is an account of an attempt to put the ideas of Paper 3 into practice, by comparing subjects who recovered from severe alcohol problems without formal assistance, with subjects who were assisted in doing so. Comparisons were made with regard to drinking patterns and occurrences of significant life events during a period of time, encapsulating four years before and two years after the resolution, and with regard to subjects' attributions as to what initiated and maintained recovery. As regards drinking patterns and event occurrences, comparisons were further made with assisted and unassisted subjects with current alcohol problems. The results indicate that initial attempts to solve the drinking problem and initial help-seeking, as well as long-term maintenance of the resolution, are influenced by environmental factors, operating outside the context of formal treatment. Unassisted remitters showed greater social stability before the resolution than assisted remitters, more often stated positive incentives for trying to change their lifestyle, and more often tapered their drinking gradually. The results underline the need to consider and try to harness contextual factors when planning individually directed and preventive measures.

    In an introductory chapter, the four papers are linked together by an examination of prevailing theoretical models of alcohol problems, and the outlining of an overarching perspective that accounts for habitual ex-cessive drinking as a "central activity" in the drinker's way of life. Finally, some joint implications of the four papers, with regard to social work with alcohol problems, and with regard to future research, are discussed.

  • 2017. Jan Blomqvist, Lisa Wallander. Socialvetenskaplig tidskrift 24 (2), 149-164

    I det följande visar vi att uppfattningarna om och definitionerna av alkoholvanor, som setts och ses som olämpliga eller avvikande, i själva verket är både motsägelsefulla och sinsemellan motstridiga, och att de har skiftat över tid och med sammanhang. Artikeln analyserar denna brist på samsyn och diskuterar vilka implikationer den kan tänkas ha för framtida forskning, praktik och policyöverväganden på området. Analysen är i huvudsak empirisk och deskriptiv, och vi har för enkelhetens skull avstått från att tillämpa exempelvis Benoits (2003) respektive Bacchis (2009) förvisso intressanta resonemang kring de berörda frågorna.

  • 2019. Lisa Wallander, Jan Blomqvist. Contemporary Drug Problems 46 (3), 241-264

    The aim of this study was to bring to light the meanings attributed to four concepts denoting problematic drinking—"alcoholism," "alcohol dependence," "alcohol misuse," and "risky drinking"—and to investigate whether individuals' preferences for using these concepts vary depending on their demographic characteristics, their stakeholder group membership, and their own drinking habits. These questions were examined by means of a vignette experiment, in which Swedish social workers, health care staff, journalists, researchers, and the general public (n = 863) read a series of 10 randomly constructed fictitious cases (vignettes; n = 8,630) and made judgments about which of the four concepts best portrayed the case descriptions. Results based on multilevel multinomial logistic regression showed that alcoholism was the concept chosen for the "heaviest" and most problematic drinking, whereas risky drinking was most often employed to describe moderate drinking habits that resulted in few negative consequences. The concepts alcohol misuse and alcohol dependence were positioned between alcoholism and risky drinking, and while misuse was linked to drinking large quantities and to more negative consequences, dependence was more frequently used to describe vignettes that involved depictions of craving. Moreover, the respondents' conceptual choices were affected by their own gender, age, drinking habits, and stakeholder group membership. Taken together, the study's findings reveal both consensus and variation in the respondents' choice of concepts, indicating that while these concepts may to some extent be employed for making meaningful distinctions between different types of problematic drinking, there is substantial variation in the way the concepts are employed.

Show all publications by Jan Olov Blomqvist at Stockholm University

Last updated: September 24, 2020

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