Elisabet Welin is professor of nursing science. Her goal is to improve the care of patients with rheumatic diseases – with improved caregiver-patient relationships and a care that is more adapted to the needs of the patient.
1960 Born in Stockholm, Sweden
1998 Obtained her PhD in cell and molecular biology at Karolinska Institutet with her thesis Autoantigenic properties of the U1-70K protein
2012 Docent in nursing at Karolinska Institutet
2018 Associate professor in nursing science at Linköping University
2018 Professor of nursing science at Örebro University
“I think that each and every patient with a rheumatic disease has experienced being treated like an object or thing that needs help. If we’re going to be able to offer a more humane healthcare, then we must understand how our patients feel,” says Elisabet Welin.
She studies how patients experience a life with a rheumatic disease. Patients report on how they feel with respect to fatigue, pain and health-related quality of life.
“The ‘soft’ values – quite simply how they feel – must be added to what we can find out via a blood test in the lab,” says Elisabet Welin.
On the other hand, it was in the lab that her research began. She obtained her PhD in cell and molecular biology and in her doctoral thesis she studied how autoimmune reactions occur in patients with rheumatic diseases at the molecular and immunological level.
And after 14 years in the lab, as doctoral student and as a postdoctoral researcher, she changed her direction. Prior to research, she had worked as a nurse and now she wanted to resume her nursing career.
“During my time in the lab, even though what I was doing was clearly patient related, I never saw one patient. I was curious to try clinical work again. So in January 2000, I began working as a nurse in the rheumatology in-patient ward at Karolinska University Hospital, as it was called then.”
There had been a dramatic development in pharmacological therapies in rheumatology and her knowledge in immunology and cell and molecular biology was useful, both in patient dialogue and in patient and staff training.
“It was at this time that my interests for caring aspects of rheumatic diseases grew and I became involved in various teaching initiatives at the Department of Rheumatology and at Uppsala University. During this same period, I also began to plan and initiate nursing projects in the department.”
The research took shape and now she works in several areas with the same theme – patients’ experiences of living with rheumatic disease and nursing aspects of living with rheumatic disease.
The research domain is thus based on the many subjective symptoms that affect patients with rheumatic diseases, in addition to the more objective pathophysiological signs that are observed in the lab.
“For example, we have shown that many patients with the rheumatic systemic disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) also feel good subjectively when their therapy is adequate and well-tuned.”
“At the same time, about one fourth of patients still have a heavy burden of symptoms that lead to major consequences in their daily lives. Patients also express that their symptoms and complaints are not taken seriously by healthcare professionals.”
Within the framework of her professorship at Örebro University, she has a clinical link to the Department of Rheumatology at Örebro University Hospital.
“I have recently taken up my position, which means that projects here in Örebro are still at the planning stage. During 2019, I'm really looking forward to be more hands-on in initiating and pursuing intervention studies on patient participation and symptom relief.”
“I am also involved in various projects for learning and teaching development and research, and have a great interest in participating in and developing research-based teaching.”
She participates in the design and evaluation of virtual patients, the use of different simulation methods in teaching, and the development and evaluation of computer-aided and simulation-based examinations of professional skills for nursing students.
“I want to combine research, learning and clinical practice, because the ultimate goal is the same for all three areas: the best possible care for patients.”