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Maria Bergström


My research concerns persons with rheumatic diseases, enablement of their participation in everyday life and, relationships with their significant others. I am also a lecturer at the Occupational Therapy Programme.

Persons with rheumatic diseases and their everyday life

Rheumatic diseases have a major impact on everyday life and often leads to participation restrictions in activities. Significant others also have a big impact on everyday life, in both positive and negative ways. Significant others are often emphasized as the biggest and most important support for functioning well in everyday life, but can also be experienced as showing lack of understanding.

How can we ensure that significant others act as the best possible support for persons with rheumatic diseases, and thereby enable the patient’s participation in everyday life? What do the patients wish? What kind of needs are the significant others requesting? These are questions that I explored in my dissertation "Participation and support in everyday life over a decade - perspectives of persons with rheumatoid arthritis and their significant others. I would further like to explore how significant others can be a resource in enabling participation in the everyday lives of persons with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). 

Another field of research is work life and, in particular, the opportunity for these persons to have a sustainable and meaningful work life. I am therefore involved in a project where a digital application aiming to support a sustainable work life, is adapted to diagnoses such as RA. This application goes by the name SWEPPE (Sustainable WorkEr, digital support for Persons with chronic Pain and their Employers).


The Occupational Therapy Programme

I am also a lecturer at the Occupational Therapy Programme at Campus Norrköping. Primarily I work with students during their first and fourth semester.

About me


  • Doctor of Philosophy in Medical Science, Linköping University 2023
  • Master of Science with a major in Occupational Therapy, Jönköping University 2014
  • Reg Occupational Therapist, Linköping University 2006

Field of teaching

  • I have been teaching at the Occupational Therapy programme since 2016
  • I am a tutor during the students' semester one and four
  • I am coordinator for the course Accessibility and Participation in Occupation, during semester four


  • I am part of the research group SWEDEwork, aiming towards sustainable participation in working life
  • I am involved in the SWEPPE research project, aiming towards adapting a digital application for persons with different diagnoses
  • I am also a former board member of the Alliance for Musculoskeletal Diseases (ARoS)



Maria Bergström (2023) Participation and support in everyday life over a decade: perspectives of persons with rheumatoid arthritis and their significant others
Maria Bergström, Åsa Larsson Ranada, Annette M. Sverker, Ingrid Thyberg, Mathilda Björk (2023) A dyadic exploration of support in everyday life of persons with RA and their significant others Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, Vol. 30, p. 616-627 Continue to DOI


Maria Bergström, Örjan Dahlström, Ingrid Thyberg, Mathilda Björk (2021) The role of support from significant others in the association between disease-related factors and sickness absence in early rheumatoid arthritis: a longitudinal study Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology, Vol. 50, p. 427-434 Continue to DOI


Mathilda Björk, Maria Bergström, Annette Sverker, N. Brodin (2020) Measures of Participation in Persons With Musculoskeletal Conditions Arthritis care & research, Vol. 72, p. 486-498 Continue to DOI
Maria Bergström, Annette Sverker, Åsa Larsson, Eva Valtersson, Ingrid Thyberg, Gunnel Ostlund, Mathilda Björk (2020) Significant others influence on participation in everyday life: the perspectives of persons with early diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis Disability and Rehabilitation, Vol. 42, p. 385-393 Continue to DOI

Dissertation, Essays and Presentations

Dissertation and Essays

  • Participation and support in everyday life over a decade - perceptions of persons with rheumatoid arthritis and their significant others. Medical Dissertation, 2023
  • 'Like the worst toothache you've had' – how people with rheumatoid arthritis describe and manage pain. Master’s Thesis, 2014
  • Perceptions of the vocational rehabilitation process among women with fibromyalgia. Bachelor’s Thesis, 2006


  • I have presented my research at national conferences in the fields of both rheumatology and occupational therapy.
  • Internationally, I have presented my research at rheumatology conferences such as ACR/ARHP in Boston, USA; and Madrid, Spain. I have also presented my research at the occupational therapy COTEC-ENOTHE E-conference in Prague, Czech Republic.


Collaboration with researchers in Occupational therapy