Priority research areas

The research program has four priority research areas where there is demonstrated competence and where active research is ongoing. The areas are not totally exclusive of one another as they share both theoretical and methodological underpinnings.

1. Psychology of religion and health

This area includes attention to religion’s function in both physical and mental health as well as expressions of illness. The area is included in an international research network on the topic developed through the American Psychological Association. This area has been established at Uppsala over a period of two decades. The overall theme is central in the Scandinavian network in psychology of religion that meets annually in Norway.  The Scandinavian research network on Faith and Health, provides a central resource for updated research information and for organizing future research projects. This area also includes developments in the sub-field of clinical psychology of religion. Development of the new research area of public mental health promotion and the existential dimension of health includes both theoretical publications as well as applied studies.  Over the past decade, externally funded research grants that Uppsala has been active in, have led to the production of over 40 scholarly publications including books, monographs, and research articles in peer-reviewed journals. Topics range from empirical studies on specific patient groups, pastoral care, existential health and epidemiology, to theoretical analysis of the arts, psychotherapy, and religious experience.  Six more recent doctoral dissertations have been published in this area relating to: ritual process and function; the grief process; religious coping; clergy burnout; quality of life research and existential need; and, young women’s existential worldview function and mental health in a clinical sample.  

Ongoing externally-funded research projects

  1. Existential needs of palliative care patients. With research partner, Centre for Psychology of Religion at Innlandet Hospital Trust, Norway.
  2. Work migration and health of Polish workers in Norway. With research partners, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland and different centres at Innlandet Hospital Trust, Norway.
  3. Understanding violent radicalization processes as a public mental health concern. With research partners, Umeå University Medical Faculty, Cambridge University and IC Thinking Cambridge, and Fryshuset, Pluralism and Dialogue Institute.
  4. Accessing and working with Existential Information in Swedish hospital contexts: a nation-wide survey of hospital chaplains. With research partners Umeå Universtiy Medical Faculty, and the Church of Sweden.
  5. Testing the feasibility of  the DSM-5, Cultural Formulation Interview in different patient populations: rehabilitation; dementia, substance use, primary care. With research partners Umeå University Medical Faculty, and different centres at Innlandet Horspital Trust, Norway.   

2. The psychosocial function of religion in migration and acculturation

This area of research is concerned with current contexts of displacement and the challenges of creating a new home context, with special emphasis on forced migration. Attention is given to both guest- and host culture processes. This research area is included in both the EU and Nordic Networks of Migration Research. Over the past decade this research program area has participated in two completed EU funded projects in this area together with Jagellonian University in Kraków, Poland. Two scholarly articles and one monograph have been published on this topic related to: religious and cultural attitudes of Polish children to refugees; religion’s role in acculturation; and, host culture preparation for addressing migration’s challenges. Two doctoral dissertations have been produced in this area relating to: minority group acculturation and the role of religiosity, and to children’s existential needs in the refugee asylum process. Additionally, several research articles and volumes have been produced.

Ongoing externally-funded research projects

  1. RESPOND – Multilevel Governance of Migration and Beyond is an EU Horizon 2020 financed project ( RESPOND is a comprehensive study of responses to the 2015 refugee crisis, with the goal of enhancing the governance capacity and policy coherence of the EU, its member states and neighbors. RESPOND brings together 14 countries partners in 11 different countries, coordinated through psychology of religion and Uppsala University. In one of the work packages in this project, the focus is on the psychosocial health among refugees and their resilience.

RESPOND involves almost 40 researchers, among these four senior researchers at Uppsala University, one doctoral student in the psychology of religion, one doctoral student in political science, and one research assistant. 

  1. Integration and Tradition: The making of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Sweden ( This project intends to critically examine, by ethnographic case studies, integration processes within three specific Syriac Orthodox congregations in Sweden, with a special focus on organization, leadership, religious ritual and religious education, and how religious traditions are upheld and negotiated in these processes. The project is interdisciplinary and financed through Vetenskapsrådet, during the period 2018-2021, and is a joint project by researchers from Uppsala, Lund, Göteborg, and Stockholm Universities.

  1. The Untold Experiences of Vulnerable Groups is a collaboration of two universities (Uppsala University and University of Cambridge) and the Museum of World Culture (Världskulturmuseerna) in Sweden where the project is hosted and administered. The Gilgamesh project aims to make the ‘untold’, mainly ignored experiences of minority refugee populations visible, and illustrate how the fear of extinction is embedded in the collective narratives of these groups and expressed in different artistic forms. The project is built on three main activities: workshop, exhibition, and documentary. See more at: The project is financed by Riksbankens Jubeliumsfond

Future research direction

Research time for a senior researcher and a post-doctoral position in this area are included in the theological faculty’s Linné Research Application for a Centre of Excellence at Uppsala University.

Further information related to doctoral and post-doctoral research
Please direct all inquires, in Swedish or English, to:
Professor Valerie DeMarinis
Associate Professor Önver Cetrez