‘Heart and soul’ is the central theme of my research. I'm studying and developing methods that reduce mental health and sleep problems in patients with heart disease.
The main focus areas of my research are psychological ill health (i.e. depression) and sleep (insomnia and sleep apnoea). My research is interdisciplinary, with nurses, doctors, psychologists and social scientists all involved in the implementation research. Both quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis are used.
Depression, insomnia and sleep apnoea
Depression and sleep were both covered in my thesis. Since the thesis, I have continued to investigate the link between depression, insomnia and sleep apnoea as well as biological changes (e.g. inflammation, heart function), symptoms, prognosis and quality of life. These variables often have complex relationships so, in order to increase knowledge of these relationships, I have used structural analyses to model and test them.
Internet, cognitive behavioural therapy and depression
As my own and others' research has shown that depression adversely affects the heart patient's quality of life and prognosis, development of methods that can reduce depression has become my aim. I'm very interested in behavioural science and am now working on research projects aimed at developing and evaluating internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT) to treat depression in patients with heart disease. I am collaborating with psychologist Professor Gerhard Andersson, IBL, from Linköping University on this project. Our group is one of the first to develop an internet-based CBT programme for heart patients. A PhD project has been running concurrently with this work since 2014 and has enabled us to develop and test the first internet-based CBT programme aimed at treating depression in patients with heart failure. This thesis is set to provide us with important knowledge as we continue our development of internet-based CBT programmes aimed at patients with heart disease who are suffering from depression as well as insomnia and anxiety disorders.
Heart disease and dietary supplements
Another area of my research are vitamins as a dietary supplement. Cardiologist Professor Urban Alehagen and I have carried out a four-year study that saw selenium and Coenzyme Q10 administered to 444 older people as a food supplement. It emerged that their risk of cardiac death decreased, as well as improving their heart function and quality of life. It also emerged that selenium and Coenzyme Q10 reduce inflammation activation and oxidative stress if taken as supplements. We are now planning a study that will see us evaluate whether vitamin D supplements can improve the cardiac function and quality of life of people with heart failure.