Töres TheorellProfessor emeritus
Som pensionerad professor tar Töres Theorell inte längre ansvar som PI (principal investigator) i nya forskningsprojekt men han är fortfarande aktiv i institutets forskningsverksamhet, i synnerhet i projekt som baseras på den longitudinella databasen SLOSH. Han tar inga nya doktorander och har endast en doktorand kvar, Annica Kempe som inom kort kommer att disputera på en avhandling på Karolinska Institutet om barnafödande och mödramortalitet i Jemen. Under senare år har han etablerat samarbete med Fredrik Ullén som är professor i neurobiologi vid institutionen för neurovetenskap vid Karolinska Institutet. Ett stort projekt inom ramen för det samarbetet gäller hur musikalitet och psykosociala faktorer samvarierar med förmåga att hantera känslor. Detta projekt stöds framförallt av Riksbankens Jubileumsfond och baseras huvudsakligen på Svenska Tvillingregistret.
TT var ursprungligen ansvarig för den svenska delen av det stora internationella epidemiologiska projektet IPD och är fortfarande forskarmedlem av detta nätverk. Hugo Westerlund har tagit över rollen som ansvarig för den svenska delen i IPD.I IPD har flera kohortstudier framförallt i Europa slagits samman för undersökningar av samband mellan arbetsmiljöfaktorer och kroppsliga och psykiska sjukdomar (kravkontrollmodelleer, ansträngningsbelöningsmodellen, långa arbetstider och osäker anställning framförallt). Antalet deltagare i dessa studier har varit mellan 150 000 och 200 000 fördelade på Finland, Sverige, Danmark, Storbritannien, Tyskland, Holland och Belgien. Storleken på undersökningsgrupperna har gjort det möjligt att studera undergrupper i befolkningen, t ex män och kvinnor, äldre och yngre etc. Mika Kivimäki i Finland har tagit initiativet och haft haft huvudansvaret. TT har vidare haft huvudansvaret för den svenska delen i en annan internationell studie, nämligen en undersökning av hälsokonsekvenserna av nedskärningar på arbetsplatser. Deltagande länder har varit Sverige, Frankrike, Ungern och Storbritannien. Harvey M Brenner har haft huvudansvaret.
TT har tidigare varit aktiv i prioriteringskommittéer i vetenskapsråden och var vidare en av de forskande deltagarna i folkhälsokommissionen 1998-2000. Under senare år har han varit ordförande i tre olika expertkommittéer i SBU:s arbete. Det har handlat om arbetsmiljöns betydelse för olika sjukdomar, depression, utmattningssyndrom, hjärtinfarkt och stroke.
TT har varit medförfattare eller förste författare i över 450 originalpublikationer i engelskspråkiga vetenskapliga tidskrifter med oberoende granskning. Han har också varit redaktör för läroböcker och författat böcker. Bland hans mera framgångsrika böcker kan man notera Karasek RA and Theorell T Healthy Work (Basic Books) 1990, Theorell T Psychological health effects of musical experiences (Springer) 2014, och Romanowska J, Nyberg A and Theorell T Developing leadership and employee health through the arts (Springer) 2016.
MD PhD, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm
I urval från Stockholms universitets publikationsdatabas
A long-term perspective on cardiovascular job stress research
2019. Töres Theorell. Journal of Occupational Health 61 (1), 3-9Artikel
This review provides perspectives on cardiovascular occupational stress research since the 1960s until now. The author argues for closer links between basic science and clinical follow-up examinations of patients. In an excellent way urinary excretion of adrenaline and noradrenaline during wake hours mirrors day to day or week to week variations in sympathomedullary activity which could be related to variations in the patient's and cardiovascular and psychosocial situation. Modern methods for following variations over time in heart contractility should also be related to the patients' psychosocial situation. In addition the author argues for more extensive use of the increasing knowledge regarding regeneration and vagal activity in relation to variations in job conditions and development or prevention of cardiovascular disease.
Associations Between Musical Aptitude, Alexithymia, and Working in a Creative Occupation
2019. Töres Theorell, Guy Madison, Fredrik Ullén. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts 13 (1), 49-57Artikel
Musical aptitude and ability to handle emotions are hypothesized to be important predictors of creative work. The associations between musical aptitude, alexithymia, and having a creative occupation were assessed with linear multiple regression for men and women separately. Participants in the Swedish Twin Registry participated in an online survey, including musical tests for rhythm, pitch and melody discrimination, an IQ test and a test for alexithymia (inability to handle emotions). They also provided a job description, which was coded according to the O*NET system. The level of creativity for each occupation was defined by the O*NET mean rating of thinking creatively. Musicians (n = 43) were excluded. For men (n = 1,327), pitch predicted having creative work. This independent contribution was significant when controlling for age, education, and intelligence although the magnitude of the association decreased when the intelligence score was included. For women (n = 1,908), alexithymia and rhythm predicted having creative work, controlling for age and education. With intelligence score, the independent contribution of rhythm score became nonsignificant while the contribution of alexithymia remained significant. For men, a high pitch score is associated with having creative work, regardless of education and general intelligence. For women ability to handle emotions is associated with creative work. Since subjects working professionally as musicians were excluded from the analyses the associations are not confined to musical creativity but seem to have a more general nature, suggesting that musical aptitude taps into domain-general factors of importance for real life creative engagement.
Cultural activity at work
2019. Töres Theorell, Anna Nyberg. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health 92 (8), 1131-1137Artikel
Purpose Several studies have shown that cultural activities may promote health. There are also prospective population studies which show that regular participation in cultural activities could reduce morbidity and mortality. To what extent such associations could be applied to the work arena is not so well known, although findings in a few studies support the assumption that cultural activities organized from the work site might improve employee health. An important question discussed in the literature is the extent to which associations between cultural activity at work and employee mental health could be reversed, for instance, with depressive mood resulting in withdrawal from cultural activity at work (backwords) rather than the opposite (forwards). The present study addresses this question. Methods Using a biennial national job survey with seven waves (SLOSH), we examined 2-year follow-up periods in 7193 men and 9313 women in the years 2006-2018. The question regarding cultural activity at work was examined prospectively (using multilevel structural equation modelling) both forwards and backwards in relation to a standardized score for depressive mood (SCL-CD6) in participants working at least 30% both at start and end of the 2-year period. Results The analyses were made separately for men and women and with age and education level as confounders. The findings show that there are highly significant prospective relationships for both men and women in both directions concomitantly. Conclusions Participation in cultural activity at work may protect employees from worsening depressive feelings, but depressive feelings may also inhibit participation in such activities.
Endangering yourself to save another
2019. Igor Radun (et al.). Transportation Research Part F 64, 318-322Artikel
Unlike hypothetical trolley problem studies and an ongoing ethical dilemma with autonomous vehicles, road users can face similar ethical dilemmas in real life. Swerving a heavy vehicle towards the road-side in order to avoid a head-on crash with a much lighter passenger car is often the only option available which could save lives. However, running off-road increases the probability of a roll-over and endangers the life of the heavy vehicle driver. We have created an experimental survey study in which heavy vehicle drivers randomly received one of two possible scenarios. We found that respondents were more likely to report they would ditch their vehicle in order to save the hypothetical driver who fell asleep than to save the driver who deliberately diverted their car towards the participant's heavy vehicle. Additionally, the higher the empathy score, the higher the probability of ditching a vehicle. Implications for autonomous vehicle programming are discussed.
Are Subjective Cognitive Complaints Related to Poorer Memory Functioning in the Working Population? A Case-Control Study
Cecilia U.D. Stenfors (et al.). BMC PsychologyArtikel
Subjective Cognitive Complaints in the Working Population - The Role of Executive Cognitive Functioning
Cecilia U.D. Stenfors (et al.). PLoS ONEArtikel
Bidirectional associations between psychological distress and hearing problems
2018. Raphael M. Herr (et al.). International Journal of Audiology 57 (11), 816-824Artikel
Objective: Hearing problems are a significant public health concern. It has been suggested that psychological distress may represent both a cause and a consequence of hearing problems. Prospective data that allow testing such potential bi-directionality have thus far been lacking. The present study aimed to address this knowledge gap. Random (RE) and fixed effects (FE) panel regression models estimated the association of psychological distress (GHQ-12) and participant-reported hearing problems. Data from 18 annual waves of the British Household Panel Survey were used (n = 10,008). Psychological distress was prospectively associated with self-reported hearing problems in women (multivariable odds ratios (ORs) >= 1.44; one-year time lag >= 1.16) and men (ORs >= 1.15; time lag >= 1.17). Conversely, self-reported hearing problems were associated with increases in psychological distress in both sexes (OR >= 1.26; time lag >= 1.08). These associations were independent of the analytical strategy and of adjustment for sociodemographic variables, lifestyle factors, and measurement period. We present first evidence of a bidirectional association between psychological distress and self-reported hearing problems. These findings suggest that stress management interventions may contribute to the prevention of self-reported hearing problems, and, in turn, alleviating self-reported hearing problems may reduce psychological distress.
Body mass index and risk of dementia
2018. Mika Kivimäki (et al.). Alzheimer's & Dementia 14 (5), 601-609Artikel
Introduction: Higher midlife body mass index (BMI) is suggested to increase the risk of dementia, but weight loss during the preclinical dementia phase may mask such effects.
Methods: We examined this hypothesis in 1,349,857 dementia-free participants from 39 cohort studies. BMI was assessed at baseline. Dementia was ascertained at follow-up using linkage to electronic health records (N = 6894). We assumed BMI is little affected by preclinical dementia when assessed decades before dementia onset and much affected when assessed nearer diagnosis.
Results: Hazard ratios per 5-kg/m2 increase in BMI for dementia were 0.71 (95% confidence interval = 0.66-0.77), 0.94 (0.89-0.99), and 1.16 (1.05-1.27) when BMI was assessed 10 years, 10-20 years, and >20 years before dementia diagnosis.
Conclusions: The association between BMI and dementia is likely to be attributable to two different processes: a harmful effect of higher BMI, which is observable in long follow-up, and a reverse-causation effect that makes a higher BMI to appear protective when the follow-up is short.
Long working hours and depressive symptoms
2018. Marianna Virtanen (et al.). Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health 44 (3), 239-250Artikel
Objectives This systematic review and meta-analysis combined published study-level data and unpublished individual-participant data with the aim of quantifying the relation between long working hours and the onset of depressive symptoms.
Methods We searched PubMed and Embase for published prospective cohort studies and included available cohorts with unpublished individual-participant data. We used a random-effects meta-analysis to calculate summary estimates across studies.
Results We identified ten published cohort studies and included unpublished individual-participant data from 18 studies. In the majority of cohorts, long working hours was defined as working >= 55 hours per week. In multivariable-adjusted meta-analyses of 189 729 participants from 35 countries [96 275 men, 93 454 women, follow-up ranging from 1-5 years, 21 747 new-onset cases), there was an overall association of 1.14 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.03-1.25] between long working hours and the onset of depressive symptoms, with significant evidence of heterogeneity (I-2 = 45.1%, P=0.004). A strong association between working hours and depressive symptoms was found in Asian countries (1.50, 95% CI 1.13-2.01), a weaker association in Europe (1.11, 95% CI 1.00-1.22), and no association in North America (0.97, 95% CI 0.70-1.34) or Australia (0.95, 95% CI 0.70-1.29). Differences by other characteristics were small.
Conclusions This observational evidence suggests a moderate association between long working hours and onset of depressive symptoms in Asia and a small association in Europe.