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A topic in the parliament

Today, culture and health is an important subject of discussion in the Swedish parliament. There is a society in parliament focussing on that specific issue, continually arranging seminars on the importance of culture vis-à-vis health. The aim is to put the issue on the political agenda and pave the way for future ventures into the area.

The Society for Culture and Health in the Swedish Parliament has since 2007 gathered both civil servants with practical experience and expert researchers in order to spread knowledge. These meetings – so far around fifteen – shed light on the diversity of new perspectives in the area and the benefits of a broadened view on health and well-being.
A regular speaker is Ola Sigurdson, director of the Centre for Culture and Health at the University of Gothenburg. Sigurdson is through his role as professor of systematic theology an important voice from the humanities in a discussion which in Sweden otherwise has been dominated by researchers from the medical area.
– Absence of disease is one aspect of health, but another is human well-being in a broader sense. This should also be noticeable in research through more cross-disciplinary perspectives that understand the human being as a whole, not as a creature divided into various subareas to study separately. The area of culture and health must unite researchers within medicine, natural science, the humanities and social science alike, said Sigurdson at a parliamentary seminar on June 4, 2013.

Culture by Prescription
The Society for Culture and Health in the Swedish Parliament also follow the development of national, innovative initiatives within health care.
At the seminar on June 4, there were participants representing Culture by Prescription, which is a high-profile health care venture by Region Skåne in conjunction with the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs. In order to shorten and prevent sick leave, patients are given the possibility to participate in a rich offering of cultural activities. The participants take part in so-called programme tracks within Helsingborg's Culture Administration, where they have group discussions around their experiences.
The venture is considered to have contributed to Skåne today having the country's second lowest rate of sick leave, the corresponding figure for women actually being the lowest in the country.
Karin Herron Sjöholm, director of Samordningsförbundet in Helsingborg, emphasises that one reason for the success of this innovative form of rehabilitation is the creation of new forms of collaboration between government agencies.
– It is important to teach various agencies, so to speak, to find each other, but also to identify functions which they lack today, but which they might possess together. This kind of work requires courage in order to take different decisions at the leadership level, but also requires long-term thinking and patience. In order to underline this, we have decided not to call Culture by Prescription a project, but rather a process, since it is not time-limited in the same way, says Herron Sjöholm.

On the cutting edge
Gunnar Bjursell, a pioneer within this area at the University of Gothenburg, who is today working at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, emphasises that culture and health to a high degree is an international research area and thereto in a constant state of flux.
– One must constantly orient oneself in relation to the voluminous and innovative research that is produced in other countries. More than 95 per cent – I might say 99 per cent – of all our knowledge in the area comes from abroad, says Bjursell.
The chairperson of The Society for Culture and Health in the Swedish Parliament is MP Anne Marie Brodén, who thinks that the work with culture and health ultimately is built on the conviction that culture can contribute in developing both individuals and society.
– In order not to treadle on in old grooves, creative thinking is required in both politics and research – people who want to be standard-bearers and say "we believe in this", says Brodén.

The Society for Culture and Health in the Swedish Parliament

Established in: 2007
Chairperson: Anne Marie Brodén (m), vice chairperson Maria Lundqvist-Brömster (fp)
Party-political profile: cross-party
Members: Members of the Swedish parliament, as well as experts from the scientific community, culture and health care

Read more about The Society for Culture and Health in the Swedish Parliament (in Swedish):
http://www.kulturradet.se/sv/Kultur-och-halsa/Sverige/Riksdagens-kultur--och-halsagrupp

Read our book on the area Culture and Health

Culture and Health: A Broadened Perspective (2014, only in Swedish) gives an overview of the research area.

Download a pdf of the book.

Contact Information

Centre for Culture and Health

Box 200, 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden

Page Manager: Lovisa Aijmer|Last update: 5/20/2015
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