Health Promotion and Rehabilitation

Research Centre for Health and Welfare Technology

About the research

  • Introduction

    We are focusing on people’s everyday life and professional efforts within health promotion and rehabilitation.

    We investigate how interventions can contribute to rehabilitation and how behavioural, psychological and social factors contribute to health promotion, including which challenges patients and their relatives experience as they reintegrate into a daily life with illness and potential limitations.

    In addition, we focus on health promotion and rehabilitation based on the mind and body.

    In particular, we investigate the mechanisms (psychological and molecular) through which increased awareness and self-regulation of the interaction between body, thoughts and emotions lead to sustainable and health-promoting effects and better rehabilitation. 


  • Research areas

    The centre has a broad research approach to health promotion and rehabilitation.

    Body-mind interventions

    Body-mind interventions within medicine (e.g. prevention of depression), society (e.g. stress and burnout, self-regulation of eating habits and life transitions with respect to illness and ageing) and education (e.g. presence, compassion and psychological resilience in health professionals and elementary school). Among other things, we investigate psychological and molecular mechanisms for sustainable health promotion through a modern and interdisciplinary research programme consisting of:

    • Randomized experiments with mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)
    • Self-regulation
    • Well-being and learning
    • Identity of the body
    • Molecular and physiological markers of physical and mental health

    The research is supported through an established biobank located at the VIA University College, Medical Laboratory Technologist education


    Rehabilitation of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer

    • Interdisciplinary interventions
    • Various forms of physical training
    • MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction)
    • Dietary habits and intake
    • Adherence and non-adherence
    • Cognition (delirium)
    • Managing life with a disease

    Lifeworld research

    Lifeworld research uses patients’ and relatives’ experiences as a starting point in connection with illness and recovery and their handling of their own lives and illness situations. We are conducting research in areas related to:

    • Transitions, including cross-sectorial transitions and those that relate to living with illness
    • Recovery at home after hospitalization
    • Patients’ and relatives’ experiences of connection between their own resources and professional efforts, plus their perceptions of handling life with illness
    • Professional efforts and the challenges experienced in patients’ own homes


  • Selected projects

    Our projects are often carried out in co-operation with the healthcare professions.

    Inequality in cardiac rehabilitation

    This project focuses on patients with cardiac disease, who either reject or fail to complete a rehabilitation programme. The purpose is to gain a deeper knowledge of these cardiac patients’ own descriptions of their daily life and resources with a view to targeting their needs and increasing their health literacy.

    Project period
    Start-up: December 2018
    Expected ending: Late 2019


    Dorthe Sørensen, VIA Health
    T: +45 87 55 21 93

    Neural and molecular mechanisms and predictors of treatment response to mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in the treatment of recurrent major depressive disorder

    Depression is the single most substantial cause of disease in the world. One reason for this is the high risk of recurrence. The recurrence risk after just one incident of MDD is around 50%. The recurrence risk increases after each recurrence and after three incidents, the risk of relapse can be as high as 90%.

    This is why the treatment and prevention of returning MDD are a priority within mental health promotion. An additional level of inflammation has shown to increase vulnerability to depression. While anti-depressive treatment (including anti-inflammatory medicine) as maintenance and prevention is the way out of depression today, not all patients benefit from long-term medical treatment.

    Anti-depressive medicine causes side effects and does not provide learning or knowledge of increasing one’s own mental health/robustness against difficult life events that could activate depression in the future.

    This is why psychotherapeutic alternatives to promote mental health present a way out of depression for many people today. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is an evidence-based psychotherapeutic intervention, which is cost-effective and recommended in a number of clinical guidelines, such as the British NICE directions as prophylactic treatment for returning depression.

    The project investigates whether mindfulness-based treatment of depression decreases levels of inflammation and risk of recurrence in a Danish cohort of people with more than three incidents of depression. 

    Project period
    Start-up: March 2017
    Expected ending: Late 2019

    Director of research:

    Jesper Dahlgaard, associate professor, docent, MHS,  Master in Positive Psychology, PhD
    VIA Health
    Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University 
    T: +45 87 55 29 92 

    Everyday life rehabilitation of people with Parkinson’s disease

    The purpose of this study is to develop and test an individualized rehabilitation effort, involving people living with Parkinson’s disease (PmPD) through participant involvement. The intervention is designed to support coping with and participation in everyday life of people living with PmPD.

    The study has been designed as an intervention study with inspiration from the UK Medical Research Council guidelines for the development and evaluation of complex interventions. The individually designed intervention is targeted people with PmPD, including those with loss of ability to walk and balance.

    A project protocol has been prepared, and funds are being used to finance the project, which is expected to run over a 2-year period.

    Director of research:

    Anita Haahr, Nurse, MScN., PhD
    VIA Nursing
    T: +45 87 55 20 12

    John Brincks, physiotherapist, PhD
    VIA Physiotherapy
    T: +45 87 55 23 18

    PRogressive Exercise therapy for patients with hip dysplasia advised not to undergo surgery (PREX)

    The aim of this study is to investigate the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of PRogressive Exercise therapy (PREX) compared with usual care in patients with hip dysplasia advised not to undergo surgery. Efficacy of PREX will be investigated in a randomised controlled trial (RCT). Alongside the RCT, cost-utility and cost-effectiveness analyses will be conducted from a societal perspective.

    Project period:
    Anticipated study start: 01.01.2020 and study completion: 31.12.2024.
    The study has been supported by the Danish Rheumatism Association, and further funding are applied for the following 6 months (updated 25th of March 2019).

    Director of research:

    Julie Sandell Jacobsen
    VIA Physical Therapy
    T: +45 7855 2340

  • Researchers

    Contact the researchers

    Dorthe Sørensen, Head of Research Center, RN, MA (Ed), PhD

    VIA Health, Nursing 
    T: +45 87 55 21 93
    Academic profile

    Research specialisation: 
    • Adherence to health interventions and physical training 
    • Everyday life with health problems and illness
    • Research with and for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) 

    John Brincks, Physiotherapy, physiotherapist, MHS, PhD

    VIA Health, Physiotherapy
    T: +45 87 55 23 18
    Academic profile

    Research specialisation: 
    • Rehabilitation of people with neurological disorders 
    • Balance and gait analysis of people with neurological disorders 
    • Quantitative scientific method

    Marie Ernst Christensen, MPHS 

    VIA Nutrition & Health
    T: +45 87 55 26 23

    Research specialisation: 
    • Rehabilitation for everyday living of people with chronic conditions (illness) 
    • Promoting health 
    • Adherence in health interventions

    Julie Sandell Jacobsen

    VIA Physical Therapy
    T: +45 7855 2340

    Research specialization:
    • Assessment and rehabilitation of young and middle-aged patients with hip and/or groin pain
    • Muscle-tendon involvement in hip joint disorders
    • Clinical studies
    • Muscle strength assessment and 3D-motion capture
    • Ultrasonography

    See an overview of the researchers

  • Partners

    Our projects are developed in co-operation with Danish and international partners.


    • Randers Health Center 
    • Vikærgården Rehabilitation Center, Aarhus


    • ResMed, Maribo
    • Philips Denmark A/S Sleep and Respiratory Care 


    • Danish Agency for Science and Innovation
    • Danish Health Authority

    Network for business professionals/organisations:

    • Association of obesity
    • Danish Cancer Society
    • Rehabilitation Forum Denmark
    • National Network of Inspiratory Muscular Training
    • NOFI Nordic Network of Intensive Healthcare
    • Medical Prognosis Institute (MPI)
    • Danish Center of Mindfulness, Interacting Minds Center (IMC)
    • Centre of E-based Learning, Region Midt


    • Section for Nursing, Aarhus University
    • Section for Sport Science, Aarhus University
    • Knowledge for the world, Alborg University
    • Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, Aarhus University

    Region hospitals:

    • The Danish MS Hospitals, Ry
    • Hammel Neuro Rehabilitation and Research Centre
    • Department of Neurology, Aarhus University Hospital
    • Marselisborg Research Center


    • PHLEGETHON, the Danish-Norwegian network
    • Larice Lab, Don Gnocchi Foundation. Gait and Balance Rehabilitation Lab, Milano, Italy


  • Contact

    Please contact us if you are interested in working with us.

    Dorthe Sørensen
    T: +45 87 55 21 93

    Students who wish to have experience with research and development can contact the research centre.

    Students of the VIA Health education programme are, as much as possible, involved in research processes to collect and analyse data and provide results.

    Students are always welcome to contact the researchers of the centre in preparation for participating in research projects, e.g. as part of a bachelor’s project.