Therese Reitan

Therese Reitan


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Works at Department of Public Health Sciences
Telephone 08-16 41 24
Visiting address Sveavägen 160, Sveaplan
Room 351
Postal address Institutionen för folkhälsovetenskap 106 91 Stockholm

About me

I am an associate professor in political science and have been affiliated with the Centre on Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD)/ Departement of Public Health Sciences since 2014. My main research interests are social and health condition of substance abusers who have been committed to compulsory care - particularly pregnant substance abusers - as well as political-administrative issues related to compulsory care. 


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2017. Therese Reitan, Sarah Callinan. Nicotine & tobacco research 19 (3), 282-289


    Smoking rates have dropped substantially in most developed countries in recent decades. This general trend has, however, not always been evident among women—particularly younger women. Smoking habits do, however, often change in connection with pregnancy and the aim of this study is to determine whether smoking during pregnancy follows general trends in smoking rates in the general female population in four countries with active anti-tobacco policies and decreasing population smoking rates.


    Changes in rates of persistent smoking, that is, smoking in late pregnancy or daily smoking among all women of childbearing age were described according to age groups. Data were retrieved from the Australian Household Drug Surveys during 2000–2013 and from registries and surveys in Finland, Norway, and Sweden between 1995 and 2014.


    In general, persistent smoking has decreased and late-pregnancy smoking rates are lower than daily smoking rates among all women. However, younger women are more likely to be persistent smokers regardless of pregnancy status. In Norway and Finland, persistent smoking was most common among young pregnant women and in Sweden there was an increased polarization between age groups. In Australia, a steady decrease in smoking rates appears to have stalled in younger pregnant women.


    Although smoking has declined substantially in recent decades, there are groups lagging behind this general trend. Young pregnant women are of particular concern in this respect. The possibility that these findings reflect the changing characteristics of younger pregnant women is discussed.


    This study puts recent trends in maternal smoking into a broader context by relating developments to changes in smoking rates among women in general. By using similar data from four countries we were able to follow changes in smoking rates “within” groups of women within the four countries without being limited by methodological problems related to cross-country or inter-group comparisons. We were above all able to show that aggregate data disclose the strong age gradient in maternal smoking habits.

  • 2017. Therese Reitan.

    Aim: Studies of drug use during pregnancy have generally focused on individual substances or specific combinations of drugs. The aim of this article is to increase our knowledge about polydrug use and pregnancy in a Nordic context by describing the sociodemographic characteristics of a clinical population of pregnant women with severe substance use, examining the scope and type of polydrug use and analysing factors associated with concurrent use of many, as opposed to a few, drugs. Method: A cross-sectional study of pregnant women on admission to compulsory care for substance abuse in Sweden between 2000 and 2009 (n = 119 women, representing 128 pregnancies). Data were retrieved from administrative registers and client records. Univariate links between demographic, social, obstetrical, treatment history variables and polydrug use were examined. Binary logistic regression was used to analyse the association between explanatory variables and polydrug use. Results: The average number of drugs being used concurrently was 2.65, and injection drug use was recorded in 73% of the pregnancies. Opiates and amphetamines were the most common primary drugs, followed by alcohol. The likelihood of polydrug use increased with first trimester pregnancy, planned (as opposed to emergency) committals, as well as the combination of partner substance abuse and injection drug use. Conclusions: Polydrug use was widespread among pregnant substance abusers. Policies, interventions and research often focus on individual drugs separately, but for clinical populations in particular there is a need to address drug use broadly, including a systematic recording of smoking habits. This also entails awarding more attention to those not eligible for established interventions, such as opiate maintenance treatment, and giving more consideration to a variety of life circumstances, such as partner drug use.

  • 2016. Therese Reitan. The international journal of alcohol and drug research 5 (3), 131-139

    Aims: To analyse how social services relate to compulsory care legislation in applications for compulsory care for substance abuse in cases involving pregnant women, given that such commitments cannot be made solely for the sake of the fetus/unborn child. Design: Applications for compulsory care to administrative courts involving pregnant women categorized according to how the pregnancy was presented or emphasized. Setting: Compulsory care for substance abuse in Sweden. Participants: 116 cases involving 107 individuals who were pregnant at the time of application for commitment to compulsory care between 2000 and 2009. Findings: In 43% of the cases the risks for both the woman and the fetus’/child’s health was emphasized. In 28% of the cases the applications were primarily for the sake of the fetus/child. In 17% of the cases the pregnancy was mentioned in a neutral manner, while in 8% of the cases the fact that the woman was abusing substances during pregnancy was presented as an indication of the severity of the problem. Conclusions: References were commonly made to the interests of the woman and the fetus/child as an entity, but social services also openly claimed the need for commitment primarily for the sake of the child. Arguments also mirrored the debate when legislation was first introduced; for example, that substance abuse during pregnancy is a clear indication of how serious the problem is, and how this situation may be hazardous to the woman’s mental health should she become the cause of severe and irrevocable harm to her child.

  • 2016. Therese Reitan. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 45, 60-69

    In Sweden, a person with severe substance abuse or a severe mental disorder may be committed to compulsory care according to two different legislations. Both acts include an option of providing involuntary care outside the premises of an institution - care in other forms (COF) and compulsory community care (CCC), respectively. As co-occurring disorders are commonplace many individuals will be subject to both types of compulsory care. The structures of both legislations and their provisions for compulsory care in the community are therefore scrutinized and compared. Based on a distinction between "least restrictive" or "preventative" schemes the article compares COF and CCC in order to determine whether they serve different purposes. The analysis shows that COF and CCC both share the same avowed aims of reducing time spent in confinement and facilitating transition to voluntary care and the community. But they also serve different purposes, something which is reflected in disparate scopes, eligibility criteria, rules, and practices. Overall, COF was found to be a more "least restrictive" and CCC a more "preventative" scheme. The distinction is associated with COF being an established part of legislation on compulsory care for substance abuse with a universal scope and CCC being a recent addition to compulsory psychiatric care legislation with a selective character.

Show all publications by Therese Reitan at Stockholm University

Last updated: February 19, 2018

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