Stockholm university logo, link to start page

Karin Heimdahl Vepsä

Research projects


A selection from Stockholm University publication database

  • Is it FASD? And does it matter? Swedish perspectives on diagnosing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

    2020. Karin Heimdahl Vepsä. Drugs


    Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) is an umbrella term covering a range of conditions related to prenatal alcohol exposure. In Sweden, only the most severe of these conditions, Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), is used as a medical diagnosis. The aim of this study was to analyze the Swedish discussion on whether or not FASD conditions (other than FAS) should be actively diagnosed/identified. The data consisted of a webpage material from a FASD interest organization and a report from a Swedish authority. The analysis was informed by Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis and strived to pay attention to which discourses that were drawn upon, and how these discourses related to each other, and to a broader social context. The discussions on whether or not FASD should be actively diagnosed/identified were structured by three main discourses. These were: a scientific discourse, a pragmatic discourse, and an ethical discourse, with the scientific discourse taking a special position, often being present also when other discourses were drawn upon. Taken together, there is not yet any consensus around what the status of the FASD conditions should be in Sweden, neither regarding the usefulness of diagnosing/identifying, nor regarding the causality between prenatal alcohol exposure and FASD.

    Read more about Is it FASD? And does it matter? Swedish perspectives on diagnosing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
  • Balancing Between Hope and Realism

    2018. Karin Heimdahl. Contemporary Drug Problems


    Pregnancy for women who use substances has sometimes been referred to as a “window of opportunity” for lifestyle change. In this article, the aim is to analyze professional accounts of the transition of substance-using pregnant women into parenthood. Focus groups were carried out with professionals working at specialized maternity care units in Sweden. The analysis is guided by the discursive psychological concept of “ideological dilemma” and focuses on contradictory elements of commonsense-making in the participants’ discussions. The results suggest that professionals articulate two, partly contradictory, ideals: on the one hand, “believing in the patient” and, on the other, “being realistic.” In their descriptions of their work with patients, professionals emphasize the significance of adjusting the self-image of the patients and increasing their awareness of their “abuse” problems in order to prevent future clashes between high expectations and reality. At the same time, they also underline that interacting with and treating those patients with the most serious problems as individuals with unforeseen strengths and resources is a matter of professional duty.

    Read more about Balancing Between Hope and Realism
  • Psychosocial interventions for substance-abusing parents and their young children

    2016. Karin Heimdahl, Patrik Karlsson. Addiction Research and Theory 24 (3), 236-247


    The aim of this scoping review was to give an overview of efficacy research on psychosocial interventions aimed at substance-abusing parents with children of up to the age of three. Throughout the overview, there was a focus on underlying assumptions and how the problem descriptions motivating the interventions corresponded with the solutions, i.e. the interventions in question. The data consisted of peer reviewed intervention studies (n = 22) identified through literature searches in online databases. Randomised controlled trial studies as well as quasi-experimental and pre-post studies were included. The results showed that all the studies included bar one focused exclusively on women as parents. Moreover, while the problem descriptions in the studies tended to be quite broad, framing parental substance abuse as a problem influenced by social and structural conditions, the solutions presented in the form of interventions generally had a narrower focus, addressing the individual parent from a psychological perspective only. In conclusion, the review points out the need for developing and evaluating interventions aimed at substance-abusing fathers as well as mothers, and also underscores the importance of these interventions being focused on a broader range of factors rather than just addressing deficits at the level of the individual.

    Read more about Psychosocial interventions for substance-abusing parents and their young children

Show all publications by Karin Heimdahl Vepsä at Stockholm University