My research topics

Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Housing for people with mental health problems - For several years, I have been involved in empirical and theoretical projects on the question of how best to organise housing for people with mental health problems. Together with colleagues at the Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich, we have conducted a randomised trial and an observational study on this question. The results of the Zurich RCT and the comparison of the RCT and the observational study have been published. I was also involved in a similar observational study in Bielefeld, Germany. Our studies suggest that the residential settings do not produce differences in terms of social and health indicators, so users should choose where and how they want to live - also from a healthcare perspective. I am very pleased that many aspects of our research could be implemented in the further development of the residential services for people with mental health problems at UPD Bern.

Occupational rehabilitation for people with mental health problems - A successful Supported Employment programme has been offered at the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centre of the UPD Bern for many years. My research is primarily concerned with the question of how well such programmes work in routine practice after they have been shown to be superior in randomised trials. A new study has shown that it may make sense to focus more on job retention.

Mental health care during the pandemic - With collaborators from across Switzerland I have recently proposed changes in the mental health care system that aim a adapting the care to the pandemic situation and its aftermath.

Human rights in mental health care

In connection with involuntary measures and other aspects of care, human rights are a much-discussed topic in psychiatry. I have co-authored both theoretical considerations and empirical analyzes that describe the great importance of human rights. My thoughts and analyzes were published in autumn 2023 in a book that is available as a print version and as an open access PDF free of charge .

Psychiatric Epidemiology

Prevalence of mental health problems - With international teams, I have produced systematic reviews and a meta-analysis addressing the issue of the increase in mental health disorders (which has not been the case, at least not until the pandemic).

Mental health problems during the pandemic - Our research group has conducted several review projects that examined the extent of pandemic-related mental health problems in the general population and in particularly affected groups. A rapid review also examined how psychological stress in the general population developed during and after the first lockdown in 2020. Subsequently we have looked into post-viral mental health problems such as those related to Long Covid.

Theory of mental health problems and Long Covid

The question of what a mental disorder/illness or a psychological problem is is particularly relevant for both care and research. I have been dealing with this controversial issue for many years and have published on the fact that social psychiatry needs a special approach to disease models.

Both for epidemiological research and for mental health care, the question of what counts as mental illness/ disorder / health problem remains a highly discussed topic. I have been working on this topic since several years and have recently provided with colleagues some publications. Ongoing is a project that tries to develop a meta-theory of mental health problems. With Ana Theodoridou I have developed a hypothesis that aims at better understanding the Long Covid condition. This hypothesis is also available in German.

Social science analyses of the Coronavirus pandemic

The pandemic is a great tragedy that has affected numerous lives and living conditions. As a sociologist, I was initially interested in whether the lockdown in spring 2020 was necessary and I came to the conclusion in a book that it was unavoidable given the numerous failing developments before the pandemic. I then asked myself why such misconduct in combating the pandemic has occurred around the world. Our hypothesis is that societies follow a cycle of epidemic failure when faced with such an issue. The analysis is also available in German.

Aggression and involuntary treatment in health care settings

Dealing with aggression in healthcare is a long-standing research topic that has concerned me since the mid-1990s. I am currently working with colleagues from the Bern University of Applied Sciences and the University of Maastricht on the issue of involuntary measures in acute somatics. We also looked at the question of whether measures restricting freedom can be a quality indicator for hospitals.