Ulrica von Thiele Schwarz (Photo J Wulff)

Ulrica von Thiele Schwarz

Principal researcher

I am a professor in psychology commited to improving the usefulness of research evidence

About me

I am a senior researcher at Procome and a Professor in Psychology at Mälardalen University, School of Health, Care and Social welfare. My professional background is in occupational health, where I have worked as a psychologist. My research focus is on the design, implementation and evaluation of changes in organizations in general, with a specific interest in how we can make evidence more useful in practice. 

Research description

My research is concerned with understanding how we can achieve sustainable improvements in organizations. It builds on work and organizational psychology and organizational behavior – the understanding of individuals in organizations and the interaction between those individuals and organizational process and structures. 

The improvements and intervention that we study range from the micro-system (e.g. thought-process among nurses in an ED) and the system level (e.g. how local authorities handle intended change, as well as linking of the different perspectives (e.g. the effect of reimbursement systems on employee job motivation). The content of the improvements and interventions has differed, as has their aim. The focus, instead, is on the process of managing and being effective in achieving the intended change, as well as the evaluation of such change.

Although the improvements and interventions I have been involved in at a first glance may seem very different, they do have some common characteristics. First, they represent an approach where the goal is to make a difference in the organization where the study is set at the same time as scientific, rigorous methods are applied in order to contribute to the accumulation of systematic knowledge. Second, the studies are concerned with how improvements can be made at workplaces with a dual focus on effect evaluations and process questions (implementation studies).  In this, I combine motivation theories, occupational health theories, leadership theories, organizational theories and operant psychology applied to organizations and systems (organizational behavior management).

Third, I strive toward integrating measures from different types of outcomes, including performance outcomes (quality of care, costs, safety etc.) and staff outcomes (health, wellbeing and work conditions). Thus, a common theme is to increase the awareness of the multiple effects of improvements and interventions on a whole range of outcomes, and the necessity of considering them simultaneously. For example, we have shown how an occupational intervention can have a positive effect on organizational performance (number of patients treated, quality of care and cost of sickness absence). Another example is showing how teamwork in emergency care, implemented with improved efficiency in mind, also has a substantial positive impact on patients’ perceptions of quality of care.

Some of my current projects include:

What are the necessary and sufficient conditions for succeeding with an organizational occupational health intervention?”. 2021-2023. Co-investigors: Kasper Edwards, Anne Richter, Susanne Tafvelin and Marta Roczniewska (FORTE)  

Understanding the value of adhering or adapting evidence-based interventions – an experimental decision making study.  2020-2024. Co-investigators: Henna Hasson, Aaron Lyon,and Fabricia Gionnetta (FORTE)

Co-Care: How can eHealth facilitated improved efficiency through changed interactions between caregivers and patients? 2017-2021. Co-applicants: Carolina Wannheden, Kiku Pukk Härenstam, Klas Karlgren & Henna Hasson (Familjen Kamprads Foundation)

Adaptation and adherence on the research-to-practice pathway: perspectives of patients, employees, the health care system and evaluation. 2017-2021. Swedish Research Council/Vetenskapsrådet. 





2008  Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology, Department of Psychology, Stockholm University. 2001  Licensed Psychologist 2000  Master of Science in Psychology (300Hp), Department of Psychology, Stockholm University  

Academic honours, awards and prizes

Vinnvård fellow i Improvement Science 2013-2016