Helene Castenbrandt


Research areas and keywords

UKÄ subject classification

  • Economic History
  • History



I have a PhD in history from University of Gothenburg (2012), and my thesis is entitled Dysentery in Sweden 1750-1900: the demographic and medical history of a disease. My main research interests involves medical history, demographic changes and population history. During my postdoc I stayed at the University of Copenhagen, funded through the Swedish Research Council’s grant International Postdoc.

My current research project, also funded through the Swedish Research Council, focuses on the history of long-term sickness absence. Today, large efforts are invested in understanding why modern societies spend more and more money on prolonged sickness cases. But one perspective is usually missing: Systems for long-term sickness absence have developed throughout the 20th century, a period marked by large health transformations and societal change. Rather than being a new phenomenon, long-term sickness absence should be understood as something old, developed and framed alongside the Swedish welfare system. The boundaries for sick leave have throughout the history of health insurance been highly debated and changed over and over. This development has been influenced by political views and societal change, including workforce fluctuations, the possibilities for retirement, disability pension, and social benefits, as well as the organisation of health care and the epidemiological transition. It is thus a socially constructed system with firm roots in biological and economic realities. Yet, no historical research exists that analyses this phenomenon as a historical process, which, in light of the highly debated rising costs for long-term sickness absence today, explains the relevance such a project. Therefore, this project aims to better our understanding of the development and changing boundaries of long-term sickness absence in Sweden during the 20th century. This project is a first step into developing this field of research.

Recent research outputs

Helene Castenbrandt, Revuelta-Eugercios, B. A. & Torén, K., 2019 Apr 9, In : Social History of Medicine. 23 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Helene Castenbrandt, 2014 Jan 1, In : Scandinavian Journal of History. 39, 5, p. 612-639 28 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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