My research topics

Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Housing for people with mental health problems - For several years now I have worked on empirical and theoretical projects that analyse the best way of solving housing problems in mental health care. Together with collaborators from Zurich University Hospital we are currently conducting a randomized trial and an observational study on this topic. The results from the Zurich RCT have been published already. I was also involved in a similar observational study with collaborators in Bielefeld, Germany. Both studies suggest that housing settings do not make a difference in terms of health and social outcomes so that - also from a health care perspective - service users should have the choice about the place to live.

Occupational rehabilitation for people with mental health problems - Our center runs a very successful supported employment program. My research is mainly on the routine operations of such programs and whether they are similarly successful as has been shown in previous randomized trials.

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.

Psychiatric Epidemiology

Prevalence of mental health problems - With many international collaborators I have conducted systematic reviews and a meta-analysis on the question whether mental disorders are increasing (which they have not in recent decades, at least not until the pandemic).

Mental health problems during the pandemic - Our group has worked on several review projects on the impact of the pandemic on mental health problems in the general population and in particularly affected groups. In a rapid review we have looked into psychological stress during and after the first wave of infections and lockdowns in 2020. More recently, we have worked on post-viral mental health problems such as Long Covid.

Theory of mental health problems and Long Covid

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.

Social science analyses of the Coronavirus pandemic

The Coronavirus outbreak is a huge tragedy that affects lives and livelihoods of nearly every citizen on the globe. Being a sociologist I have published a book in German on the issue of whether the lockdown in early 2020 was necessary and came to the conclusion that it was inevitable due to the nearly universal failure in preparation and response to the pandemic. This analysis was followed by a case study publication that elaborates on the hypothesis that modern societies commonly follow an 'Epidemic Failure Cycle' when trying to respond to an epidemic or to a pandemic. This analysis is now available in German, too,

Aggression and involuntary treatment in health care settings

The management of aggression in health care settings is a topic that I have worked on since the 1990s. With collaborators from Bern University of Applied Sciences and from Maastricht University I have recemtly turned to the problem of involuntary treatment in general health care settings. We have also looked into the question whether restraints could serve as a quality indicator for hospital settings.

Human rights in mental health care

Human rights are related to the issue of coercion in psychiatry. I have published theoretical considerations as well as co-autored empirical analyses on the relevance of human rights in mental health care.