Published: 01-12-2023 13:03 | Updated: 01-12-2023 13:05

New thesis explores stroke prevention intervention in primary healthcare

Hi Emelie Mälstam, doctoral student at the Division of Occupational Therapy. On December 8 you will defend your thesis "Make My Day – Exploring engaging occupations in stroke prevention and promotion of health". What is the main focus of the thesis?

Emelie Mälstam, PhD-student at the Division of Occupational Therapy, NVS.
Emelie Mälstam, PhD-student at the Division of Occupational Therapy, NVS. Photo: Niklas Levin.

This thesis project explores and evaluates a stroke prevention intervention in primary healthcare called Make My Day. The intervention Make My Day combines a health app with individual and group sessions to support people at risk for stroke to include different physical or social engaging everyday activities and healthy lifestyle habits into daily life to promote their health and reduce different risk factors for stroke. 

Which are the most important results?  

The most important result was that the health-oriented approach that was used in Make My Day, focusing on incorporating engaging everyday activities into everyday life was feasible for the purpose of addressing stroke risk factors. It was also acceptable among persons at risk for stroke and allied healthcare professionals. The results more specifically showed that incorporating engaging activities in everyday life was experienced as both health-promoting, being able to impact on people’s other activity choices, as well as providing motivation for adopting healthier habits in everyday life. Changing health behaviors as well as incorporating a self-monitoring routine into everyday life using mHealth was however complex imbued with different barriers. Using a personally relevant health app were however a facilitator for persons at risk for stroke in changing lifestyle habits, as were social support, and the group-setting of Make My Day.

How can this new knowledge contribute to the improvement of people's health?  

The insights gained from this thesis can be applied to primary healthcare’s work with stroke prevention, but more interestingly, as stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, as well as diabetes typ 2 share several modifiable risk factors, such as lifestyle habits (eating habits, physical activity, smoking, and alcohol consumption) there is potential of the Make My Day intervention applied in primary healthcare in work with health promotion in general and prevention of other diseases than stroke.

What's in the future for you? Will you continue to conduct research?  

Next, I will continue my work as a lecturer in public health science at the University of Gävle, but I hope to also continue with research in both public health and occupational science. The insights from this thesis regarding engaging everyday activities as being both health-promoting, having motivational elements, and being able to impact on people’s other activity choices, could perhaps be transferable into behavior change in relation to environmental sustainability, which are a “hot topic”. It would therefore be interesting to particularly look at potential synergies between engaging everyday activities and pro-environmental behaviors, as well as barriers so that we can develop support that enables people to take care of themselves and their surroundings. 


Emelie Mälstam Phd Student