About me

I am a PhD since 2019, thesis Return to work: exploring paths towards work after spinal cord injury and designing a rehabilitation intervention. The thesis work was situated within the doctoral School in Health Care Sciences, Department of Neurobiology, Health Sciences, and Society, Division of Occupational Therapy. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Unit for Intervention and Implementation Research in Occupational Health (IRR), Karolinska Institutet and my research focuses on sick leave and return-to-work after common mental disorders.  I have a clinical background as a reg. Occupational therapist in specialist rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury at Spinalis / Rehab Station Stockholm. I have also been engaged in Spinalis Botswana SCI Rehab project, a partnership between Botswana's Ministry of Health and the Spinalis Foundation, partly funded by Sida. My research area is focused on health and everyday life, especially related to intervention and implementation research for worker health. My interest is in the intersection between research and practice.

Research description

My dissertation - which was funded by Doctoral School in Health Care Sciences and doctoral grants from the Norrbacka Eugenia Foundation - aimed to generate knowledge about RTW to develop and evaluate the design and feasibility of a complex intervention that can serve as a complement to the current system for RTW. The dissertation was based on the Medical Research Council's guidelines for developing and evaluating complex interventions. The design used a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods - where narrative and participatory approach (photovoice), as well as constructivist grounded theory, generated knowledge about RTW for persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) in Sweden. The findings illustrated a complexity in RTW by illustrating the situatedness of RTW through social, labor market, and societal context. Furthermore, the results showed fragmented support in RTW after SCI and the risk of absent or delayed RTW processes. The development of ReWork-SCI meant person-centered, structured, and coordinated support when returning to work. The intervention was feasible in a clinical context, but remodeling of the intervention and considerations of study-design changes are necessary before evaluating the effectiveness.

Since 2019, I have had a position as a postdoctoral researcher at the Unit of Intervention and Implementation Research for Worker Health (IRR), Institute of Environmental Medicine at Karolinska Institutet. I have been engaged in the project - Facilitators, barriers, and ethical values related to the coordination of return-to-work among employees on sick leave due to common mental disorders: a protocol for a qualitative study (the CORE-project). A project with qualitative design led by Dr Elisabeth Björk Brämberg. The project is deployed in cooperation with researchers from the Karolinska Institute, Uppsala University, and Linköping University, and is funded by AFA Försäkring.

In 2019, I was awarded AFA Insurance postdoctoral grants - A problem-solving intervention to increasing return to work among people on sick leave due to common mental disorders- effects on short-term sick leave, psychosocial factors, and balance in everyday life? The project is linked to the project, A problem solving based intervention as an intervention in primary health care for facilitating return-to-work among people suffering from common mental disorders – a cluster-randomized trial (PROSA). A key element in the project is the cooperation between the person on sick leave, his/her employer, and health care professionals, and the project is conducted by a multidisciplinary research group with researchers from Karolinska Institutet, University of Gothenburg, University of Linköping and University of Groeningen, the Netherlands. The postdoc project extends between 2020-2021, and the purpose of the postdoc project is to evaluate the effect on short-term sick leave, psychosocial factors and balance between work and family life. In addition, I will analyze the employee’s and employer’s experiences of causes of sick leave due to common mental disorders, barriers, and facilitating factors in private and working life for RTW.



Holmlund L, Tinnerholm Ljungberg H, Bültmann U, Holmgren K, Björk Brämberg E. Exploring reasons for sick leave due to common mental disorders from the perspective of employees and managers – what has gender got to do with it? International journal of qualitative studies on health and well-being17(1), 2054081. https://doi.org/10.1080/17482631.2022.2054081

View record in Medline: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35341475/

View full record: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17482631.2022.2054081

Azad A, Sernbo E, Svärd V, Holmlund L, Björk Brämberg E. Conducting In-Depth Interviews via Mobile Phone with Persons with Common Mental Disorders and Multimorbidity: The Challenges and Advantages as Experienced by Participants and Researchers. International journal of environmental research and public health 2021 18:22

View record in MEDLINE®

Fulltext: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182211828

Holmlund L, Hellman T, Engblom M, Kwak L, Sandman L, Tornkvist L, Bramberg EB. Coordination of return-to-work for employees on sick leave due to common mental disorders: facilitators and barriers. DISABILITY AND REHABILITATION 2020 : 1-9

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Fulltext: https://doi.org/10.1080/09638288.2020.1855263

Holmlund L, Guidetti S, Hultling C, Seiger Å, Eriksson G, Asaba E. Evaluating the feasibility of ReWork-SCI: a person-centred intervention for return-to-work after spinal cord injury. BMJ open 2020 10:8 e036000-

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Fulltext: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2019-036000

Holmlund L, Guidetti S, Eriksson G, Asaba E. Return-to-work: Exploring professionals' experiences of support for persons with spinal cord injury. Scandinavian journal of occupational therapy 2020 : 1-11

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Fulltext: https://doi.org/10.1080/11038128.2020.1795245

Holmlund L, Hultling C, Asaba E. Mapping Out One's Own Paths Toward Work: Focus on Experiences of Return to Work After Spinal Cord Injury. Qualitative health research 2018 28:13 2020-2032

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Fulltext: https://doi.org/10.1177/1049732318782706

Holmlund L, Guidetti S, Eriksson G, Asaba E. Return to work in the context of everyday life 7-11 years after spinal cord injury - a follow-up study. Disability and rehabilitation 2018 40:24 2875-2883

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Fulltext: https://doi.org/10.1080/09638288.2017.1362597

Bergmark L, Westgren N, Asaba E. Returning to work after spinal cord injury: exploring young adults' early expectations and experience. Disability and rehabilitation 2011 33:25-26 2553-8

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Fulltext: https://doi.org/10.3109/09638288.2011.579224


Teaching portfolio

As a techer I have been involved in the bachelor programme for occupational therapists at Karolinska Institutet (about 200 hours). At advanced level I have been teaching in in the course Förvärvade ryggmärgsskador – interprofessionellt vård- och rehabiliteringsperspektiv, 7,5 credits, University of Gothenburg and in introduction into program planning and development, 5 credits, Karolinska Institutet



PhD - medical sciences, 2019, Karolinska Institutet

Master degree - Occupational Therapy, 2009, Karolinska Institutet

Bachelor Degree - Occupational Threapy, 2001, Umeå University