Photo of Maria Bäck

Maria Bäck

Adjunct Associate Professor, Docent

I am an associate professor and physiotherapist with specialist competence in cardiovascular diseases. I am an adjunct senior lecturer at LiU and clinician and researcher at the cardiac rehabilitation unit at Sahlgrenska in Gothenburg.

Research summary

My research combines epidemiology, method development, intervention- and implementation research and qualitative studies, with special focus on physical activity and exercise in the cardiovascular field. The research is characterized by clinical projects where the implementation of research results with direct benefit to the patient is highly valued.

Exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation under the supervision of a physiotherapist is a highly evidence-based treatment which, however, is underutilized. There is a large need to identify methods and interventions targeting how it is possible to increase participation and adherence with this treatment.

Please visit my research group PHYS-EX CVDs homepage to read more about some of our current projects. The projects target epidemiological research within the framework of the SWEDEHEART-registry and to develop and evaluate telerehabilitation and behavioural medicine interventions with the aim of optimizing availability, efficiency, and goal fulfilment in exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention.

My research also includes studies within the cardiovascular field with focus on e-health interventions, associations between objectively measured physical activity and health, effects of physical exertion and exercise on the immune system and inflammation, randomized controlled trials evaluating effects of exercise in patients with intermittent claudication and in elderly patients with coronary artery disease, as well as qualitative studies. I also have collaborative efforts in patients with COPD and cancer.

I have established effective large national and international collaborations and networks in my field. My research is clinically relevant and often performed in collaboration between researchers with interdisciplinary competence. I contribute actively within the European Society of Cardiology in research, guidelines and to various task forces.

About me


  • 2018 Associate Professor, Department of Health, Medicine and Caring Sciences, Unit of Physiotherapy, Linköping University
  • 2014-16 Post-doc, Department of Health, Medicine and Caring Sciences, Unit of Physiotherapy, Linköping University
  • 2012 PhD in medicine, Institute of medicine, Sahlgrenska academy, University of Gothenburg
  • 2008 Specialist competence in cardiovascular diseases
  • 2005 Master of Science in physiotherapy, University of Gothenburg.
  • 2001 Bachelor of physiotherapy, University of Gothenburg

Field of teaching

Teaching at the Physiotherapy program and at advanced levels, mainly lectures, workshops and examinations in the fields of cardiovascular disease, exercise, physiology and behavioural medicine. Supervision of masters degree-projects and PhD students.

Selection of merits

  • Reviewers in scientific journals
  • Member of examination boards
  • Invited speaker to national and international congresses and educational courses
  • SWEDEHEART steering group member
  • Coordinator of the national network of physiotherapists working in cardiac rehabilitation
  • Physiotherapist representative in the National system for knowledge driven management within Swedish healthcare as member of the national working group for secondary prevention of coronary artery disease
  • Chair (2012-2018) and past chair (2019-2020) of the Swedish Council on Cardiovascular Nursing and Allied Health Professions within Cardiology
  • Fellow of the European Society of Cardiology (FESC)
  • Board member of the Association of Cardiovascular Nursing and Allied Health Professions (ACNAP) within the European Society of Cardiology (ESC)
  • Chair of the ESC Task Force on Allied Professionals, led by ACNAP
  • Co-chair together with Professor Dominique Hansen of the ESC Task Force on Physiotherapy and Sport Scientists Network, led by European Association of Preventive Cardiology
  • Member of the Secondary Prevention and Rehabilitation section of the Association of Preventive Cardiology within the ESC



Anzhela Soloveva, Chris P. Gale, Naung Tun Han, Ben Hurdus, Suleman Aktaa, Victoria Palin, Teumzghi F. Mebrahtu, Harriette Van Spall, Gorav Batra, Tatendashe Bernadette Dondo, Maria Bäck, Theresa Munyombwe (2023) Associations of health-related quality of life with major adverse cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events for individuals with ischaemic heart disease: systematic review, meta-analysis and evidence mapping Open heart, Vol. 10, Article e002452 Continue to DOI
Margret Leosdottir, Emil Hagstrom, Nermin Hadziosmanovic, Anna Norhammar, Bertil Lindahl, Kristina Hambraeus, Tomas Jernberg, Maria Bäck (2023) Temporal trends in cardiovascular risk factors, lifestyle and secondary preventive medication for patients with myocardial infarction attending cardiac rehabilitation in Sweden 2006-2019: a registry-based cohort study BMJ Open, Vol. 13 Continue to DOI
Laura Jess, Maria Bäck, Marianne Jarfelt (2023) Adult childhood cancer survivors perceptions of factors that influence their ability to be physically active Supportive Care in Cancer, Vol. 31, Article 409 Continue to DOI
Maria Bäck, Margret Leosdottir, Mattias Ekstrom, Kristina Hambraeus, Annica Ravn-Fischer, Birgitta Öberg, Ollie Ostlund, Stefan James (2023) The remote exercise SWEDEHEART study-Rationale and design of a multicenter registry-based cluster randomized crossover clinical trial (RRCT) American Heart Journal, Vol. 262, p. 110-118 Continue to DOI
Sabina Borg, Birgitta Öberg, Lennart Nilsson, Joakim Alfredsson, Anne Soderlund, Maria Bäck (2023) Effectiveness of a behavioral medicine intervention in physical therapy on secondary psychological outcomes and health-related quality of life in exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation: a randomized, controlled trial BMC SPORTS SCIENCE MEDICINE AND REHABILITATION, Vol. 15, Article 42 Continue to DOI


Selection of research funding as a main applicant

  • Swedish Research Council
  • Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare
  • Swedish Heart-Lung Foundation
  • Swedish Heart and Lung Association
  • Family Kamprad Foundation
  • Grants from the Swedish state under the agreement between the Swedish government and the county councils, the ALF agreement
  • Post-doc fellowship from Swedish Society of Medical Research
Photo of people working out at a gym.

Physical activity and exercise in cardiovascular disease (PHYS-EX CVD)

The overall aim is to develop and evaluate methods and interventions with special focus on physical activity and exercise in cardiovascular disease.