Sociological research helps make better decisions on the provision of health and wellbeing services

In Finland, everyone has access to the services provided by health and wellbeing professionals. According to Professor Sirpa Wrede, their experience of their work impacts all of us.

What are your research topics?

I am a sociologist who studies the work of physicians, midwives and practical nurses, as well as how inequality is evidenced in their professional life. As part of this work, I have familiarised myself with the social meanings of health and ill health, reproduction and ageing in particular, also from patients’ perspective.

In addition, I am interested in integration and the significance of immigrant backgrounds for professional life and social bonds.

My research group is investigating, among other things, the formation of the professional roles of nurses with immigrant backgrounds, as well as what family life and ageing are like when many close friends and relations live in another country.

Where and how does the topic of your research have an impact?

In Finland, every person is brought into the world by professionals, everyone needs care provided by professionals when ill as well as at various stages of life. What these professionals think about their work, their skills and how they perceive their work have a direct impact on all of us in such situations.

From among the professionals I am investigating, in the focus in the current discourse are physicians working at healthcare centres, midwives, and nurses working in elderly care. A growing share of those working with the elderly have an immigrant background, and more of them are wanted in the sector. However, the provision of services is complex, and many problems are related precisely to the status of professionals.

Research that gives voice to professionals and examines their work in a comprehensive manner can help both decision-makers and those taking part in the public discourse better understand both the current situation and the underlying factors. Of particular importance is the highlighting of those voices that would otherwise not be properly heard.

What is particularly inspiring in your field right now?

Sociological research is multimethodological, and the tendency to place different methods in opposition to each other has decreased. Particularly in more extensive research projects, creative collaboration is now conducted and things are learnt from others, also from other fields of science.


Sirpa Wrede is a professor of sociology at the Faculty of Social Sciences and at the Swedish School of Social Science.

Get to know the other new professors.