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Gerd Ahlström is Professor of Nursing, Director of the Swedish Institute of Health Sciences (Vårdalinstitutet) and head of the research group “Health of older people and person-centred care”, Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Lund University. She received her first professorship in 2003 at Örebro University and is now a fellow researcher in EANS (the European Academy of Nursing Science). During the last twenty-years she has held positions as an academic leader within higher education and research and has several commissions concerning research, education, aging and ethics on national level. Gerd has been the main supervisor for 18 PhD and co-supervisor for 3 PhD students who have completed their dissertations. She is the main supervisor for five PhD students (three of them will take licentiate degree).
Currently she is leading a project about family members’ experiences of providing care and support to a frail older relative in need of recurring acute care at hospital. These informal caregivers’ participation and involvement in the acute care as a resource for staff is the focus of this project. This project is also a part of a larger European collaboration involving ten countries. One other project Gerd is leading is a recently started programme about active and healthy aging for persons with intellectual disability. In two studies, these persons’ health conditions and utilization of health-care and social service are investigated longitudinal over ten years. In two other studies, managers’ and staff's experiences of the aging of these persons are explored. Two ongoing projects concern ethical issues and dilemmas with regard to the nursing of persons severely ill and obesity in persons with mobility disabilities.
The total number of peer-reviewed original scientific papers in international journals is currently 110. A high proportion of these publications were about the life-situation of persons living with chronic illness, studied from a family perspective. One of the aims of this research was to increase the understanding of what problems and strains the persons with illness and their relatives face in everyday life. Another aim was to investigate the persons´ perceived quality of life and their own capabilities and resources when it comes to handling difficult life situations caused by illness. Some of the research projects were based on interventions using tailor-made care programmes with the emphasis on education and complementary methods such as Qigong. The knowledge gained from this research was the basis for improving the quality of care at three hospitals. Multi-disciplinary research methods are being used for the purpose of gaining a broad perspective on the changes brought about by chronic illness in the lives of adults and older persons and their families. There are significant losses to endure, especially in the case of a disease with a progressive course. The theory of chronic sorrow has been helpful in elucidating the persons´ losses and the accompanying sorrow. Models of nursing need to be developed so that the most appropriate help can be provided for the persons and their families. The understanding of particular contexts for healthcare delivery and the science of clinical practice have often been overlooked in healthcare. Research recently finished was within the programme "Bridging the gaps" which concerns health care improvement of renal health care. The future research of health care improvement will be based on ideas of person-centred care.