Prof Töres Theorell

Phone: +46 8 5537 8925


Scientific advisor

MD PhD Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm. I am a physician who defended my dissertation in 1971 at the Karolinska Institute with my thesis on Life events in relation to myocardial infarction. I practiced clinical internal medicine and cardiology 1967-1978 and social medicine 1978-1980. I was Professor at the National Institute for Psychosocial Factors and Health (the institute later transformed to the Stress Research institute at the Stockholm University) in 1981. I was also director of the same institute 1995-2006, and at he same time professor at the Karolinska Institute. After 2006 when I retired I has served as scientific advisor at the Stress Research Institute.

As first or co-author I have 650 publications on my list out of which half are publications in international journals with independent referee system. The research has primarily dealt with the importance of life events and psychosocial work environment for the biological stress reactions and illnesses (cardiovascular, mental, gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal). Some of the studies have been controlled scientific evaluations of psychosocial interventions and many of them have been observational epidemiological studies with several observations longitudinally. During later years I have also been involved in research on the relationship between cultural participation and stress/health.

I have supervised 35 doctoral thesis to the dissertation. I have also established collaboration with scientific colleagues in GB, US, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Canada and the Nordic countries and I’m a member of the European scientific academy (Academia Europeae). I have furthermore produced popular books, during later years I spåren av 90-talet (Consequences of the Swedish 1990:s) and Notes on music and health.

The most internationally well-known publication is the book published by RA Karasek and T Theorell with the title Healthy Work (Basic Books New York 1990) which is been widely quoted in many countries and has been used both in scientific work and education.

Research profile/Current work:
As a retired professor I don’t take PI responsibility for new projects but I am still active in several projects at the Institute, in particular those based upon the epidemiological data base slosh. I don’t take any new doctoral students and have only two doctoral students left, Annica Kempe (child delivery and maternal mortality in Yemen) and Julia Romanowska (scientific evaluation of a psychosocial education program for managers and its health promotion effects on employees).

During later years I have established collaboration with Fredrik Ullén, professor of neurobiology at the Karolinska Institute. A large project within that collaboration which Ullén has the main responsibility for, is the study of musicality and how this can influence health development. This project which has just started is supported mainly by the Tercentenary Fund (Jubileumsfonden) and will be based upon the Swedish Twin Registry.

I am responsible for the Swedish part of an international project entitled IPD. A number of cohort studies in Europe have been merged for the examination of psychosocial work environment factors in relation to somatic and mental illnesses (mainly the demand control support model and the effort reward imbalance model). The number of participants in this study is in the order of 160 000 from Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium. This study makes it possible to study these relationships in subgroups of the populations (for instance men and women, those with diabetes and without diabetes, smokers and non-smokers, those with high and low education etc. (Mika Kivimäki in Finland has the main responsibility for the whole study).

T has also recently had the main responsibility for the Swedish part of another international study namely a study of health effects for employees of downsizing with participation from Sweden, France, Hungary and Great Britain (PI for the whole study Harvey M Brenner)

T has been active inpriority committees in the Swedish scientific councils and was an expert in the governmental commission on public health 1998-2000. At present he is the chairman of a governmental committee (SBU) for examining the scientific evidence of a relationship between psychosocial work environment and depression and similar psychiatric states.

Life events in relation to myocardial infarction - a pilot study, Karolinska Institutet

among others American Public Health Association, Academia Europeae

Selected publications:
Romanowska, J., Larsson, G., Eriksson, M., Wikström, B-M., Westerlund, H. and Theorell, T. Health effects on leaders and co-workers of an art-based leadership development program. Psychother. Psychosom. 80; 78-87, 2011.

Harmat, L. And Theorell, T. Heart rate variability during singing and flute playing. Music and Medicine. 2(1), 2010.

Theorell, T. Anabolism and catabolism. In: Research in occupational stress and wellbeing, vol 7. Current perspectives on job-stress recovery. Eds. Sonnentag, S., Perrewé, P.L., and Ganster, D.C. pp 249-276, 2009.

Karasek RA and Theorell T: Healthy Work. Basic Books, New York, 1990

Nyberg, A., Alfredsson, L., Theorell, T., Westerlund, H., Vahtera, J. and Kivimäki, M. Managerial leadership and ischaemic heart disease among employees: the Swedish WOLF study. Occup Environ Med. 66;1, 51-55, 2009.

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Work-related psychosocial factors and health in subgroups:
individual-participant-data metaanalysis
01/01/2010 - 31/12/2013
Svensk sammanfattning

Det övergripande målet med projektet är att belysa effekterna av psykosociala arbetsförhållanden på kroniska sjukdomar, funktionsnedsättning och dödlighet i specifika grupper av anställda. Projektet ...

ERA-net: New and emerging risks in occupational safety and health (osh) – anticipating and dealing with change in the workplace through coordination of osh risk research
01/01/2010 - 31/12/2012

Work-related psychosocial factors and health in subgroups: Individual-participant-data meta-analysis (WORK-IPD) started in March 2010. Other participating countries are Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Great Britain. Professor Mika Kivimäki ...

Stress Related Hearing Disabilities
01/01/2009 - 31/12/2011
I djurexperimentell forskning har man visat att långvarig negativ stress med störningar i HPA-axeln resulterande i höga corticosteroidnivåer i hörselhjärnan medför förhöjd risk för permanenta hörselskador vid bullerexponeri...

SLOSH - The Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health - Wave III
01/01/2010 - 31/12/2011
SLOSH (Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health) är en befolkningsstudie som skall belysa samband mellan arbetsliv och hälsa. Det är en kohortstudie vilket innebär att man följer en definierad grupp människor, i detta fall de som deltagit i...

Stress-related hearing problems
01/01/2009 - 31/12/2011
Svensk sammanfattning

Ny forskning visar alarmerande att cirka 32 procent av arbetande svenskar har någon form av hörselproblem (hörselnedsättning och/eller tinnitus). Resultaten kommer från en av världens största s...

Collaborating with

Åkerstedt, Torbjörn
Director of the Stress Research Institute

PhD in Psychology

Research profile/Current work
I am a professor and director of the Stress Resear...



Division of Epidemiologi
Our divison focuses on improved understanding of how stress-related illnesses and health problems arise and can be prevented in and outside of the workplace. In particlar, we focus on how working life, in a broad sense, affects health, taking also factors outside working life int...

Last updated on 2017-16-06 at 11:14