Projects – University of Copenhagen

Projects in Health-promotion Innovations in Local Communities

Implementation of welfare technologies for elderly citizens

This project focuses on the design and implementation of welfare technologies for elderly people. Based on ethnographic and qualitative methods her research examines the intermingling of welfare technologies, elderly users, and everyday practices.

More specifically, it explores visions, expectations, and ideas for welfare technological innovations in healthcare, and the social and material effects of these techno-political initiatives as they unfold in practice. Fieldwork is conducted in the Center for Healthy Aging’s affiliated municipalities.


Post doc Sara Marie Ertner,

Biomarkers of ageing: Use of internet 'measurement of biological age' website services

In the past decade, an increasing variety of organisations have been established whose only objective is the provision of biological, personalised age measurement. Indeed, any cursory browse on the internet for ‘age’ would reveal that there are currently available a variety of tests to ascertain individuals’ ‘personalised age’, from simple questionnaires to those using bio-molecular techniques such as telomere length measuring.

This is an explorative study of the use of such online ‘personalised age’ measurement tools. The project team investigates the views of users of such services on the social and ethical impacts of personalised age measurement. The investigation conducted uses a mix of focus group interviews with users and non-users of such personalised age measurement tools and a digital mapping of Danes’ usage of internet measurements of biological age. The questions explored are; who uses these services, why do they use them and what the ethical implications of such use are.

The project is carried out in collaboration with Professor Tiago Moreira, Durham University, UK.


Post doc Aske Juul Lassen,, or Research assistant Asger Aarup Hansen,

Local practices of active aging

The project on local practices of active aging investigates the following three themes through ethnographic fieldwork as well as policy analysis: Which life ideals are practiced through municipal active aging policies? How is active aging transformed in local, municipal practices? How is active aging packaged, formatted, commercialized and exported?


Post doc Aske Juul Lassen,

Intergenerational relations in age-related transitions

The project on intergenerational relations in age-related transitions addresses the following questions through ethnographic fieldwork: How are transitions from work to retirement and age-influenced changes in living arrangements experienced? How do aging people navigate intergenerational relations, roles and engagement? What effect do intergenerational relations have on the older person’s health practices, identity and experience of energy and resources?


Post doc Kamilla Nørtoft,

Empowering community health

Empowering community health is the subject of a cultural analysis of aging citizens’ practices of ‘health’ and ‘quality of life’ in a Danish municipality. This project asks the following questions: How do aging people in Gentofte Municipality practice ‘health’ and ‘quality of life’ in their everyday lives? How do aging people’s subjective understandings of ‘health’ and ‘quality of life’ relate to their everyday lives? How do interactions between individuals constitute different forms of ‘community’?


PhD student Amy Clotworthy,

Healthy aging among ethnic minorities

The project on healthy aging among ethnic minorities is based on ethnographic fieldwork in Ishøj and sets out to investigate the ways in which ‘healthy aging’ and ‘the good life’ are created and enacted within the context of health promotion. This project targets ethnic minorities, and is expected to provide insight into the effects of public health policy.


PhD student Nanna Hilm,

Negotiating needs, negotiating old age - a practice study of transitions in eldercare as played out in the introduction of reablement in Denmark 

My PhD project focuses on the introduction of reablement in the Danish eldercare sector. Politically, reablement is described as a new eldercare paradigm representing a shift ‘from passive to active care’, i.e. care that aims at making older people more independent. Since the interests of the project revolves around the practical aspects of translating policy to practice, the empirical material for this research is obtained by means of ethnographic methods. The research questions focus on the moral challenges and implications that emerge in the meeting between older people, eldercare professionals and relatives involved in reablement, including how professional identities are transformed, how responsibilities between citizens and the state are redistributed and how ideas about the good senior life and good eldercare are managed and negotiated.


PhD student Malene Bødker,, tel. +45 35 33 20 50

Transferring healthy aging

Community-based health promotion interventions for older adults are characterized by a high degree of context-dependency, involvement of multiple public and private agencies, and complex behaviors that are shaped by both individual and sociocultural factors developed over a life-course perspective. Identifying community-based health promotion interventions that are effective, acceptable and adapted to the need of diverse groups of older adults - in terms of e.g. socioeconomic position, ethnicity, sex, functional capability and multimorbidity – is important to ensure evidence-based public health. Evaluating the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of complex public health interventions necessitates new models that are theory-driven and able to comprise multilevel processes and actors. Tensions between intervention fidelity and standardization on one hand and issues related to transferability of interventions across communities and population groups on the other hand are important dimensions to consider. This study explores transferability of different cases of community-based health promotion interventions for older adults with the aim of informing healthy aging policies, practices and future intervention studies.


Associate professor and reseach group leader Maria Kristiansen,, tel. +45 35 33 48 05

Third sector governance

The project on third sector governance aims to examine how local governments govern the ‘third sector’ (public private co-production of services) – specifically privately run associations that target elderly individuals. The project maps municipal policy initiativesfinancial setups and economic incentives used to support the collaborative arrangement between three local governments and the community associations that provide services to elderly.


Professor Karsten Vrangbæk,, tel. +45 35 32 37 96

Follow-up home visits

This project evaluates whether follow-up home visits could be a useful tool to improve care, secure cross-sectoral coordination and to prevent re-admission. The project analyses the use of follow-up home visits by general practitioners for older patients after discharge, and to what extent follow-up home visits improve cross-sectoral care coordination. The project also asks which patients (age, gender, diagnosis and socioeconomic status) are receiving follow-up home visits and whether the health trajectories are better for patients who receive follow-up home visits than for those who do not.


Post doc Andreas Rudkjøbing,, tel. +45 35 32 74 93

Elderly, socially-isolated men

An anthropological postdoc project focuses on elderly, socially-isolated men on the eastern part of the island, Møn. Since the men may be difficult to contact, the postdoc has made it a key priority to develop the project in collaboration with the staff at the local health care center. Through intensive ethnographic fieldwork among the elderly on the island, the post-doc project aims at discovering what causes social isolation among elderly men and at finding ways to re-socialize and engage the elderly men within their communities. An anthropological study on aloneness takes its point of departure from past fieldwork (carried out in CEHA) among elderly Danish citizens receiving home nursing. The project examines the significance of solitude and aloneness for health, wellbeing and social relations among the elderly. The Project is funded by CEHA.


Post doc Henrik Hvenegaard Mikkelsen,, tel. +45 35 33 29 31

Solitude with a focus on aging people receiving home nursing

People who receive nursing aid in their homes vary according to age, social background, health conditions, functional level and so forth. This project focuses on people above 80 years of age who live alone and who are more or less bound to their homes. The project is guided by a number of questions: How do they experience the fact of loneliness and how does it influence their quality of life? How does solitude relate other life conditions such as autonomy, purpose of living and health and activity levels? Which meaning do they ascribe to the fact of living alone and how do they view this in relation to content of their social relations? The project is a continuation of Bodil Ludvigsen’s previous studies on elderly people in the municipality of Gentofte, which formed the basis of her PhD thesis leading to a PhD degree in anthropology.


Guest researcher Bodil Ludvigsen,, tel. +45 28 88 49 92

Everyday rehabilitation in the elderly care provided by Vordingborg Municipality: A citizen perspective

What happens in the encounter between the municipal care worker and the citizen who has made the request for support and who is offered service in the form of rehabilitation? How does the citizen view and understand the expectations of the municipal worker and how do these expectations tally with the citizen’s own expectations? These questions lay the foundation for this PhD project focusing on the widespread adaptation of rehabilitation as the magic bullet of elder care across the Danish welfare landscape. The project is funded by CEHA.


PhD student Loa KT Christensen,, tel. +45 35 32 28 67

Locating practices of old age

This is a cultural historical study on the configurations and transformations of old age from the end of the 19th century and onwards. Within the setting and practices of the municipal old age home the project investigates: How is old age and the aging body imagined and regulated? How is knowledge on old age and the aging body produced and materialized?


PhD student Anders Møller,

When the physiotherapist goes digital: Physical rehabilitation and new infrastructures of care

In current years, innovative digital technologies have been designed and implemented in municipalities, in order to support processes of physical rehabilitation. However, we know little about how technology, health professionals and patients become entangled through processes of implementation and how new infrastructures of care are constituted. In close collaboration with Copenhagen Municipality, this project unpack the kind of relationships patients and health care providers establish with and through these technologies and how authority is produced and negotiated in those encounters. It investigate the ‘invisible work’ that such reconfiguration of care arrangements entail and identify barriers and strategies for how such processes can be supported. The Project is funded by CEHA.


Post doc Nete Schwennesen,, tel. +45 35 33 77 08

Depression in old age

The project examines both lived experiences of depression in old age and perceptions of depression in old age among health professionals working with early identification and prevention of depression. Questions about the distinct characteristics of depression in old age as well as the significance of life conditions and expectations of old age in development and identification of depression will guide the project. Hence, the project will contribute with perspectives on the aging body, the aging mind, and how illness develops and is managed late in life. The project is carried out in collaboration with Dansk Selskab for Patientsikkerhed, Thisted Kommune and Faaborg-Midt Kommune and is funded by CEHA.


Post doc Mikka Nielsen,

Culture, Ageing and Health

This ethnographic research project explores “Culture Strength” in the Municipality of Vordingborg. "Culture Strength" is a 10-week course of cultural activities aimed at citizens who are on long-term sickness leave due to stress, depression and anxiety. The research project will create qualitative knowledge about the participants' experience and benefits from the course. Different outreach activities and a sound production will be part of the research output. The project is funded by CEHA. 


Research assistant Nanna Hauge Kristensen,

Social networks of LGBT seniors

Studies from abroad show that gay, bisexual and transgendered people are at higher risk of social isolation due to cultural and historical circumstances. In Denmark, however, we lack knowledge of this specific group of seniors. This research project aims to identify barriers and opportunities experienced by LGBT people aged 65 and over in terms of access to social support, intimacy and community. The project is funded by Ensomme Gamles Værn.


Research assistant Simon Meggers Matthiesen,, tel. +45 30 64 17 36 

Dementia care and digital technologies

In the last years, digital technologies have radically reconfigured the infrastructure of dementia care, yet, we know little about the relationship between dementia care and digital technologies. This ethnographic study explores what happens when digital technology come to mediate relationships between people with dementia and their careers and the challenges it creates. With outset in Åbenrå and Copenhagen municipality, the project study dementia care in different stages of disease and follows how digital technologies come to shape care, relationships and ‘repertoires’ of being human over time. The project is carried out in collaboration with the Danish Alzheimer Society and is funded by the Velux Foundation. 


Post doc Nete Schwennesen,, tel. +45 35 33 77 08

Aging as a human condition: Radical Uncertainty and the Search for a Good (Old) Life in Uganda

This study forms part of a larger comparative project involving philosophers, artists and anthropologists working in Denmark, California, India and Kyrgyzstan. It explores the universal and the culturally specific in experiences of aging, with a focus on four themes: the mindful body and its changes; intimate others; lived time; and home spaces. The ethnographic data is assembled through participant observation and long conversations at intervals over three years with a few individuals and families the researchers already know well. The project is funded by the Velux Foundation.


Professor Susan Whyte,

A Matter of Course: An Ethnographic Assemblage of the Routinization of Statins in Denmark

As part of the interdisciplinary project LIFESTAT – Living with Statins, the study investigates the widespread utilization of pharmaceutical prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The study shows how the prescription and use of cholesterol-lowering statins has become a matter of course; a self-evident solution to the problem of being ‘at risk’ despite any signs or symptoms of disease. In the life of many individuals identified ‘at risk’ of CVD, statins provide a security strategy; a way to manage the uncertainties of the future. At the same time, however, the routinization of statins tends to mask the many unintended effects of pharmaceutical prevention, hence potentially places people in difficult situations of physical and emotional doubts and concerns. While exploring these multiple effects of routinization, the study highlights the importance of approaching pharmaceutical prevention, not just as a matter of course, but also as a practice and ideology that reaches into many aspects of life, hence should be handled with care and concern by citizens, healthcare providers and politicians alike.  


PhD student Sofie Rosenlund Lau,, tel. +45 51 24 90 36

Biomarkers of Healthy Ageing

The rapid growth of various –omics techniques has expanded to the point at which the application of technically advanced biomarkers in clinical practice will soon become even more feasible. Screening technologies rest on the assumption of early identification and thus prevention. Searching for new biomarkers contains the hope that identifying the right biomarkers will lead to tailored or personalized treatment and thus more healthy individuals and longer lives. The project COUNTERSTRIKE - COUNTERacting Sarcopenia with proTeins and exeRcise – Screening the CALM cohort for lIpoprotein biomarKErs is a large interdisciplinary project that explore new lipoprotein biomarkers of healthy ageing based on omics- technologies. The ethnographic work package follow the design process of the screening tool and by combining ethnographic fieldwork and exploratory workshops with the project partners the project explores the emergent technologies of personalised treatment and asks how this new understanding of the lipoprotein biomarker and screening technologies introduce new connections between lifestyle and health. COUNTERSTRIKE is a spin-off project of the CALM-project ( and is funded by Danish Innovation Foundation in collaboration with the industrial partners: Arla, Unilever and Bruker. For additional information, see


PhD Assistant professor Line Hillersdal,, or Associate professor Astrid Jespersen,

Predicting preventable hospital admissions among older adults in Denmark

Preventable hospital admissions refer to in-patient treatment for health conditions that should be managed in primary care facilities. The overall aim of this project is to decrease preventable hospital admissions among older adults through identification of risk factors that can be targeted through citizen-, provider- and/or system-related strategies. Based on a large national register-based cohort of all older adults in Denmark and a subset of their children, we construct a dense, empirically founded model for predicting preventable hospital admissions with particular focus on investigating effects of age in combination with geographical factors, socioeconomic position and sex. 


Associate professor Maria Kristiansen,, tel. +45 35 33 49 05

Social relations, loneliness and healthcare utilisation among middle-aged and older people

While previous research establishes an association between social relations, health and use of healthcare services among older people, how to implement this knowledge in real-life settings has received much less attention. The study explores the relationship between social relations, loneliness and healthcare utilisation in a Danish mid-life population sample. The study also explores individual and contextual factors affecting the implementation of a group-based life story intervention aimed at establishing and strengthening social relations among older people at nursing homes in Denmark.

In this study, we apply a combined quantitative register-based approach and a qualitative implementation approach. First, we will quantitatively analyse the relationship between social relations, loneliness and healthcare utilisation (contact to general practitioner) among middle-aged people in Denmark. This is done by linking survey data on social relations, loneliness, self-perceived health and disease status from the Copenhagen Aging and Midlife Biobank(CAMB) (n = 7191) with national registries through the Public Health Database on contact to general practitioner and demographic and socioeconomic factors. Second, we will qualitatively analyse individual and contextual factors affecting the implementation process of the group-based life story intervention based on semi-structured interviews (n = 16), observations and field notes with and among intervention stakeholders, i.e., participants and group leaders facilitating the intervention.

We expect the results of this study to improve knowledge about mechanisms through which social relations and loneliness are associated with older peoples contact to their general practitioner and to inform the implementation of future interventions targeting social relations among older people at nursing homes.


PhD student Anne Sophie Bech Mikkelsen,, tel. +45 35 33 03 58

Promoting collaboration through municipal "Health centers"

This project investigates the processes of establishing joint regional and municipal health centers using three health centers as empirical sites. Organizational dimensions and attitudes among the different health care professionals are investigated. Based on a literature survey we provide recommendations for organizing collaboration.


Professor Karsten Vrangbæk,, +45 29 41 00 69

Collaboration and cross-thematic projects

Ageing in the Arctic (AgeArc) - Well-being, quality of life, and health promotion among older people in Greenland

The aim of AgeArc is to improve health, well-being and quality of life among older people in Greenland through development and implementation of new economically sustainable health promoting initiatives and solutions for municipal and care practices, cultural and societal structures, health measures and personal experiences.

Our ambition is to bridge the key knowledge gaps by connecting systematic research with welfare development, local competences and the preferences and perceptions of older Greenlanders.

To do so we unite the Greenlandic municipalities, current and future care personnel, older people, population surveys, researchers from ethnology, history, sociology, care sciences and institutions of research and teaching in Denmark and Greenland to determine what levels and modes of care and policies for the elderly in Greenland are useful, sustainable, and relevant.

The results of the project will be improved health, well-being and quality of life, new knowledge, better municipal and care practices and the creation of a platform for further practice/research collaboration on ageing in the Arctic region.

Read more about the project go

The VELUX FOUNDATION has funded this project which is affiliated with the Center for Healthy Aging and involves researchers at the Saxo Institute (History and Ethnology), who are also involved in CEHA Theme 1, health-promotion innovations.


Associate professor Tenna Jensen,, or Post doc Kamilla Nørtoft,

Appetite for food

Through a qualitative study of older people’s experiences with the meal service delivered by the Municipality of Copenhagen this project analyses the factors and elements that either support or limit appetite.

The qualitative study explores the everyday lives of frail, home dwelling elderly, e.g. their preferences and eating routines, and the project delivers new insights into what strengthens the elderly’s appetite. The study focuses on elderly, receiving ældrekost (elderly diet) and menu for småspisende (menu for a poor appetite) through the municipal food delivery service: Københavns Madservice a la carte (KMS).

The Municipality of Copenhagen has funded this project which is affiliated with the Center for Healthy Aging and involves researchers at the Saxo Institute (History and Ethnology), who are also involved in CEHA Theme 1, health-promotion innovations.


Associate professor Tenna Jensen,, or Associate professor Astrid Jespersen,

The good senior life

The research team is conducting a qualitative study of the everyday practices and the life experiences of older citizens, and the ways they are locally engaged. The research will bring new insights into how the Municipality of Esbjerg can support good later lives in ways that correspond with the lives of the older citizens.

The project studies local communities for older people in Esbjerg such as activity groups, unions of retired fishermen at the harbor and church support groups. Through qualitative studies of these communities, possibilities and barriers of collaboration with the municipality of Esbjerg will be explored.

The Municipality of Esbjerg has funded this project which is affiliated with the Center for Healthy Aging and involves researchers at the Saxo Institute (Ethnology), who are also involved in CEHA Theme 1, health-promotion innovations.


Post doc Aske Juul Lassen,, or Associate professor Astrid Jespersen,

Co-creation activities for elderly citizens in the Municipality of Ishøj

This research project studies co-creation of activities for elderly people in the Municipality of Ishøj. The co-creation processes involve citizens, volunteers and municipal employees who work together to create sustainable life-quality promoting activities for elderly people.

Through qualitative studies of meeting-points between municipal and private actors, the project explores how the cooperation takes place and brings new insights into the possibilities and barriers of collaboration. The project follows different collaborative activities in Ishøj and explores what types of roles, relations and activities arise in the co-creation processes.

The Municipality of Ishøj has funded this project which is affiliated with the Center for Healthy Aging and involves researchers at the Saxo Institute (History and Ethnology), who are also involved in CEHA Theme 1, health-promotion innovations.


Post doc Aske Juul Lassen,, or Associate professor Astrid Jespersen,

LIFESTAT – living with statins

LIFESTAT is an interdisciplinary research project that draws on perspectives from the humanities, the social sciences and health sciences to analyse the impact of the use of the cholesterol lowering drug, statin, on the health, life-style and well-being in aging Danes. Find more information on LIFESTAT.

CALM – Counteracting Age-Related Loss of Skeletal Muscle Mass

Counteracting Age-Related Loss of Skeletal Muscle Mass (CALM) is an interdisciplinary and cross-faculty research project at the University of Copenhagen. It brings together physiologists, sensory scientists, microbiologists, historians, and ethnologists through three interlinked research-strands: a clinical trial, a cultural analysis, and an innovation project.

The impetus for the study is the fact that in the coming decades, the number of elderly citizens over age 60 in Denmark will increase by more than 50%. As a consequence, public expenditures for health care and welfare services will rapidly increase unless new evidence-based measures are developed to counteract age-related challenges. One of the most significant challenges is the age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass (1-2% per year), which starts around age 50 in healthy individuals. The resulting loss of strength and functional ability often leads to a decrease in an individual’s quality of life and independence, which has significant personal and societal consequences.

Recent research has shown that a supplement with protein and increased levels of exercise may prevent or slow this age-related loss of muscle mass. But little is known about the optimal combination of protein intake and exercise, nor about the complications that may result from turning these promising ideas into permanent lifestyle changes in a large segment of the population. The CALM project aims to make a significant contribution to current knowledge in the field through generating and combining new knowledge about physiological mechanisms, entrenched lifestyle habits/routines and the existing knowledge that is embedded in a variety of institutions concerned with the elderly population.

The project is affiliated with the Center for Healthy Aging and involves researchers at Ethnology, who are also involved in Center for Healthy Aging Theme 1, health-promotion innovations.

For additional information, please go to