The public defence of Caroline Eklunds’s doctoral thesis

Doctoral thesis and Licentiate seminars

Datum: 2018-10-12
Tid: 09.15 - 12.00
Plats: Room Beta, MDH Västerås

The public defense of Caroline Eklund’s doctoral thesis will take place at Mälardalen University, room Beta (Västerås Campus) at 09.15 on October 12, 2018.

Title: ”Development and evaluation of a web application for stress management – supporting behaviour change in persons with work related stress"

The faculty examiner is professor Mats Lekander, Karolinska institutet. The examining committee consists of lecturer Ida Flink, Örebro universitet, professor Gunvor Gard, Lunds universitet och LuleaUniversity of Technology, and lecturer Anne Berman, Karolinska institutet.
Reserv: lecturer Anna-Lena Almqvist, Mälardalen University
Serial number 269.


Stress is the most common reason for sick leave in Sweden. Stress can lead to health-related problems such as burnout syndrome, depression, sleep disorders, cardiovascular disease and pain. To handle stress in early stage, the web enables to reach many persons at a low cost. Web-applications have proven to be effective regarding several health-related problems. However, adherence is often low and many stress management-programs have not been based on evidence. The overall aim of the thesis was to develop and evaluate a fully automated, evidence-based web-application for stress management for persons experiencing work related stress. The thesis consists of four studies. Study I contained the systematic development of the program in two phases. Phase one included the development of the program's theoretical framework and content, and phase two consisted of structuring the content and developing the platform to deliver the content from. The result was an interactive web-application tailored to the individual's need for stress management supporting behavior change in several ways; My Stress Control (MSC). MSC was tested regarding how to proceeded through the program. The results showed that the participants had trouble to reach the program’s end. In study II the feasibility of the scientific study procedure was investigated as well as how feasible MSC was to be applied in a larger study. 14 persons participated. The findings proved the scientific study procedure feasible with minor changes, but some changes were required for the web-application to increase the chance for success in study IV. In study III 9 persons that participated in study II were interviewed. The interviews aimed for a better understanding of how the participants experienced the program to further develop it. One theme was identified: Struggling with what I need when stress management is about me. It described an understanding for that stress management takes time and is complex but that it was difficult to find the time. In study IV, MSC was investigated regarding its effect on stress. One group with access to MSC was compared to a wait-list group. 95 persons participated. The results showed that the program had a small effect on perceived stress, but adherence to the program was low.
These studies support that a web-application based on the latest evidence have an effect on perceived stress. However, to handle stress on one’s own is complex and how to facilitate adherence to the fully automated program should be further investigated.