PhD trajectory update

I figured that an update on my PhD trajectory was in order so here goes:

My application to defend my PhD thesis, ready to be handed in.

First a recap: I started my PhD studies at Karolinska Institutet (KI) in 2012 and in June 2018 I handed in my application to defend my PhD thesis (see photo). Unfortunately the Dissertation committee rejected my application because I hadn’t applied for ethical approval for studying myself (read more about their reasoning and my thoughts here and here).

For a number of reasons, my employment at KI ended in early 2020 and I am currently working at Uppsala University together with Maria Hägglund. We first met when I started studying Health Informatics at KI in 2010 and she was one of the teachers.

Maria and me at the half-time review of my PhD project at Karolinska Institutet in June 2015.

I am very happy that I am able to combine my work as a research assistant at Uppsala University with being a PhD student at Radboudumc/Donders Institute in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

My supervisors are a great group with the very best combination of competences imaginable for the research I am doing:

Bas presenting at the 18th International Conference on Integrated Care in Utrecht in May 2018.

Professor Bas Bloem, neurologist and researcher at Radboudumc. Bas is generally known as one of the most patient-centered Parkinson neurologists in the world. I have followed his work with great interest for a long time, and he is involved with many impressive initiatives to improve health and healthcare for people with Parkinson’s disease all over the world. Bas is my main supervisor.

Martijn de Groot, head of the REshape centre for innovation at Radboudumc. Martijn is also one of the international leaders in the Quantified Self community.

Maria Hägglund, associate professor and researcher in health informatics at Uppsala University in Sweden. Maria’s work and research includes among other things: patient-centered eHealth, innovation and entrepreneurship, and PAEHR (patient-accessible electronic health records).

Working with these amazing people has given me new energy and enthusiasm for my research and If all goes well, I hope to be able to defend my PhD thesis later this year.

A long and winding road…

It has certainly been a long and winding road and I have learned so much along the way!

“But Sara, why would patients want to do research on themselves anyway? Isn’t it better if you all just give your data to a proper researcher?”

I think that those who know me will agree that I am not often lost for words. However, when the question in the title of this post was posed to me, I can definitely say that I didn’t know what to say for, what at least felt like, a really long time.

Continue reading ““But Sara, why would patients want to do research on themselves anyway? Isn’t it better if you all just give your data to a proper researcher?””

Some key aspects of patient-centered research

It is a truth universally acknowledged that many patients no longer settle for contributing to medical research only as participants in research studies. Over the last decade or so, patients have increasingly made their voices heard in all nooks and crannies of the research process. Some of my favourite examples include:

Continue reading “Some key aspects of patient-centered research”

What is a ‘spetspatient’?

The report “Spetspatienter – en ny resurs för hälsa” (only in Swedish I’m afraid)

My non-Swedish speaking friends may have been wondering what I have been up to lately. And it’s a fair question, since I haven’t been blogging much in English for a while. For the last two years or so, I have been leading a project aiming to change the perception of patients, both among healthcare professionals and similar but also change how we patients see ourselves and our roles in our own health and care. The project is called: “Spetspatienter – en ny resurs för hälsa” (or in English: “Lead Patients – a new resource for health”) and it is funded by the project partners and Vinnova, which is the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems. Continue reading “What is a ‘spetspatient’?”

Stolt spetspatient!

Rapporten “Spetspatienter – en ny resurs för hälsa”

Igår var en stor dag: projektet “Spetspatienter – en ny resurs för hälsa” släppte en rapport med samma namn, se bilden. Spetspatient är ett ord som jag hittat på och i rapporten kan du läsa mer, se rapporten här

Såhär står det på rapportens baksida:

Spetspatienter – en ny resurs för hälsa
Ordet spetspatient kom till som ett försök att återta ordet patient och vända det till något positivt. Spets- patient utsågs till ett av Språkrådets nyord 2017 och i denna rapport kan du läsa mer om hur begreppet kom till. Rapporten är författad av medverkande i projektet ”Spetspatienter– en ny resurs för hälsa”, som har stöd från Vinnova. Bland projektparterna finns patienter och patientorganisationer, vårdgivare och hälso- och sjukvårdsorganisationer, forskare samt företag och tillsammans vill vi utveckla en ny typ av patientdelaktighet. Vi ser att om vi bättre kan använda kunskapen, engagemanget och viljan som finns hos spetspatienterna så kan hälso- och sjukvården bli bättre för alla patienter.

Kunnigare patienter gör alla till vinnare!

Continue reading “Stolt spetspatient!”

Walking revolutionised

My new friend Potemkin meets my furry friend Shiva

Tuesday last week, I got myself a new friend. I have namned him Potemkin and you can see him in the photo here, being examined by another good friend of mine, Shiva the cat. We had no idea what a suitable name we gave him, he really is a “god of destruction”. Just come to our place in the countryside in the summer to witness the carnage for yourself.

But I digress, this post is about my new rolling friend Potemkin.

In this post I will use the Swedish word for a mobility aid with 4 wheels intended for providing support when walking, which is “rollator”. Continue reading “Walking revolutionised”

Ethics and PhD

Background

A few days ago I had some disappointing news. I have been working on my PhD in the area of digital selfcare and self-tracking in Parkinson’s disease since 2012, which is probably starting to be a bit too long. I was therefore very happy to be able to submit my application to defend my thesis before the university went on summer holiday. In the application I aimed for thesis defence in late November, the examinators and the opponent had confirmed their availability and I was starting to looking forward to D-day. Of course I was well aware of the potential obstacles that were left to clear. The vetting of an application to defend a doctoral thesis at my university entails two separate parts. The first part checks things like that any of the supervisors (current or previous) have not published anything with any of the examiners or the opponent and that the scientific articles that the applicant wants to include in her thesis are of sufficient quality and extent to be equivalent of at least four years full time work. The main supervisor also submits her statement of the doctoral student’s learning process and development during her time as a doctoral student. The second part of the vetting is dedicated to ethical aspects.

Continue reading “Ethics and PhD”

A small round white pill

One of my containers for my morning doses with one morning dose laid out.

Every morning I have my phone alarm set to ring at 6 am. Every morning, weekday or weekend, workday or holiday, because at 6 am I take my first dose of medication. I take six different pills for my Parkinson’s disease, one to make up for not having a thyroid and one contraceptive. I prepare my morning doses a few weeks at a time in containers with one compartment for each day of the week (see photo) and keep next to my bed together with a bottle of water. That way I can take my meds while still in bed and more often than not, I will go back to sleep for a while longer before getting up. This way the meds will have kicked in when I rise and moving will be a bit less difficult. Continue reading “A small round white pill”

The finest compliment I ever had

Today I learnt that Tom Isaacs, President and co-founder of the Cure Parkinson’s Trust died very suddenly and unexpectedly yesterday morning. Tom is (yes, he still is) one of the most well-known PwP (people with Parkinson’s) in the world and has contributed so much to the global PD community. The world has lost an amazing leader and trail-blazer of the inclusion of patients’ voices on every level of PD research and I have lost a friend, role-model and mentor. Continue reading “The finest compliment I ever had”