New publication

Vibeke Narverud Nyborg has published a chapter in the new book Olhares cruzados sobre a história da saúde da Idade Média à contemporaneidade (Crossed perspectives on the history of health from the Middle Ages to the present day) edited by Alexandra Esteves & Helena da Silva. Her chapter is called “Health policies and fighting epidemic diseases in Scandinavia – different trajectories towards the development of public health and the Nordic welfare model.”

The fight against epidemic diseases contributed to the development of public health. The aim of health policies in Europe as well as in the Scandinavian countries was to secure a healthy population and contribute to the development of a modern state. While there are many similarities in approaches and solutions within the Scandinavian countries through history, there are also differences. This chapter explores these differences and similarities in an early stage of health policies development. A variety of actors and power relations contributed to frame health policies to control and fight epidemic diseases, while at the same time we can find cultural and political similarities contributing to the growth of a common Nordic Welfare model.

Annual report (2022)

1. Short presentation of the center – research perspectives and main goals

As witnessed during COVID-19, pandemics are among the largest threats to global health and the world economy. The core idea of PANSOC is that infectious disease pandemics created by influenza or coronaviruses have always been more than just a medical problem. Their epidemiology and impact are profoundly shaped by social and economic structures.

The overarching aim of our research centre is to study historical and modern data to enhance the understanding of social and biological risk factors for severe influenza and COVID-19 outcomes by socioeconomic and ethnic status and to improve pandemic preparedness.

This is the second annual PANSOC report. In the following, we present our 2022 research projects, funded applications, research team, published journal articles and outreach activities.

2. Research projects and funding applications

One of our key projects in 2022, Social Science Meets Biology: Indigenous People and Severe Influenza Outcomes, started in mid-August 2022 and will run to the end of June 2023. This Centre for Advanced Study (CAS) project brings together 15 international researchers with a background in epidemiology, genetics, social sciences and history to study why Indigenous peoples are vulnerable to serious disease during pandemics. PANSOC is the first OsloMet group awarded a stay at CAS at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in Oslo.

One of our researchers passed step 1 and was invited to an interview for the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant scheme in September 2022. The application was not funded, but we received financial support from the Research Council of Norway for applicants who got to Step 2 to resubmit to the ERC Consolidator grant program in February 2023.

One of our researchers was successful in receiving a highly prestigious Young CAS Fellowship 2023/2024 for the project Work and Wellbeing in History – CAS. PANSOC is the first OsloMet group to be awarded a Young CAS Fellowship, and to our awareness, we are the first research group to have both a standard CAS-project and a young CAS project at the same time (Spring of 2023). The Young CAS-project will bring together labor historians, economic historians, and labor economists to improve and extend the Historical Occupational Quality Index and integrate historical and present-day job quality measurement.

3. Research team and institutional collaborations

In 2022, the core team has consisted of five people, head (professor Svenn-Erik Mamelund) and co-head (Jessica Dimka) of PANSOC and three post-docs (Margarida Pereira, Benjamin Schneider, and Alexandra Blinkova). Five other researchers have also contributed to various projects, including Andreas Lillebråten, Nan Zou Bakkeli, Daniele Alves, Vibeke Narverud Nyborg and Hilde Orderud. Finally, we also had three master’s students in 2022: Carla Louise Hughes, Lara Maria Dora Steinmetz, and Christina Stylegar Torjussen.

The PANSOC visiting scholars program supports guest researchers to visit Oslo, to present ongoing research, and to discuss potential collaborations. As part of this program, we invited one guest researcher in 2021 (Mathias Ingholt Mølbak, University of Roskilde), one in 2022 (Kaspar Staub, University of Zurich), and after a review of the applications for the 2022/23 program (59 applications from across the globe), we will welcome Kristina Thompson, Wagenigen University (in January 2023) and Natalie Bennet, Newcastle University (in May 2023).

Via the ongoing PANRISK-funded Research Council of Norway project (2020-2023) and the CAS-project 2022/2023, PANSOC collaborates with the Pandemic Center in Bergen (Esperanza Diaz), the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Birgitte Klüwer), PandemiX Center, the University of Roskilde (Lone Simonsen, Søren Ørskov, Mathias Mølbak Ingholt), and with researchers at the universities of Umeå (Åke Brännström, Per Axelsson and Peter Sköld), Zürich (Kaspar Staub), ISPUP, Portugal (Ana Isabel Ribeiro), Philadelphia (Megan Todd), Missouri (Lisa Sattenspiel & Taylor P. van Doren), California, Irvine (Andrew Noymer), Michigan (Siddharth Chandra), Arizona (Amanda Wissler, Gerardo Chowell-Puente), Northern British Columbia (Lianne Tripp), Alberta (Courtney Heffernan), Queensland (Katherine Kedzierska), Melbourne (Kirsty Short & Lauren Steele), Auckland (Heather Battles, Marama Muru-Lanning), Otago (Michael Baker), and NIH (Jeffrey Taubenberger).

The team for the Young CAS Project Work and Wellbeing in History is Jane Whittle (University of Exeter), Judy Stephenson (UCL), Robin Philips (University of Utrecht), Vincent Delabastita (Radboud University), and Meredith Paker (Grinnell College).

PANSOC is also associated with MERIT – MothER Income InequaliTy (eeagrants.gov.pt). This project includes the Institute of Public Health, University of Porto, Portugal and Centre for Research on Pandemics and Society, OsloMet, Norway (EEA Grants, SGS3A2). The MERIT – MothER Income InequaliTy project will produce knowledge about the impact of motherhood in women’s income and careers and will produce a combination of concrete public policy proposals to minimize asymmetries and promote gender equality in the labour market, especially through motherhood. Research team: Teresa Leão, Joana Amaro, Ana Sofia Maia, Silvia Fraga, Raquel Lucas, Milton Severo, Pedro Norton, (ISPUP, Porto (Portugal) Julien Perelman National School of Public Health (NOVA University of Lisbon), Margarida Pereira, Svenn-Erik Mamelund and Jessica Dimka (PANSOC, OsloMet, Norway).

4. Research outcomes/activities

We published ten journal articles in 2022, of which two were in highly ranked level 2 journals (in Norway, highly ranked journals are level 2, others at level 1). One paper was published in Annals of Internal Medicine (see paper 1 below). This highly prestigious journal has an impact factor of 25.4 and is considered one of top five in medicine together with JAMA, New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet and The BMJ. Other articles were published in the fields of public health, anthropology, infectious diseases, and computer science. Since the start of PANSOC in January 2021, we have published 23 papers, of which three appeared in highly ranked level 2 journals (13.0%).

Three master’s students who started in 2021, and who have been affiliated with and have had advisors at PANSOC, finished their degrees in 2022 (2 with A’s and 1 with a B). One of the students published a paper based on the thesis in BMC Public Health (see paper 8 below).

In 2022, we held 31 webinars with guest speakers and audience from all parts of the globe (12 in the Spring semester and 9 in the Fall). We have also written several opinion pieces, been interviewed in both national and international newspapers and radio and participated in podcasts on how to keep up the pandemic memory and invest in pandemic preparedness. PANSOC was cited in the second report published by the Norwegian Corona commission. Finally, PANSOC organized and presented at the 2nd Norwegian Historical Demography Meeting (on zoom) in January 2022 and held a symposium with two internationally prominent guest speakers on the hunt for the virus causing the 1918-20 pandemic at the Academy of Science and Letters in Oslo in November 2022.

5. Summary

PANSOC continues to publish medical- and social science-related pandemic research in high-ranking international journals; we have been successful in getting competitive research grants; our master’s students finish and deliver high quality research on time; and our international PANSOC visiting scholars’ program and webinar series are very popular.

Master’s students finishing in 2022

  1. Carla Louise Hughes – Master’s thesis (2022): The Association Between the 1918 Influenza Pandemic and Suicides in Norway.
  2. Lara Maria Dora Steinmetz – Master’s thesis (2022): COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in eastern Oslo: Addressing sociodemographic determinants and main reasons for vaccine hesitancy
  3. Christina Stylegar Torjussen – Master’s thesis (2022): «Dødsseileren» – losjiskipet i Horten: En kvalitativ og kvantitativ analyse av årsakene til den høye dødeligheten på MS «Kong Sverre» under spanskesyken i 1918 [“The Death Ship” – the accommodation ship in Horten: A qualitative and quantitative analysis of the reasons for the high mortality on MS “Kong Sverre” during the Spanish flu in 1918].

Papers published in 2022

  1. Kaspar Staub, Radoslaw Panczak, Katrina L. Matthes, Joël Floris, Claudia Berlin, Christoph Junker, Rolf Weitkunat, Svenn-Erik Mamelund, Marcel Zwahlen, Julien Riou (2022): Historically High Excess Mortality During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Switzerland, Sweden, and Spain. Annals of Internal Medicine.  
  2. Nan Zou Bakkeli (2022): Predicting Psychological Distress During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Do Socioeconomic Factors Matter? Social Science Computer Review (level 2 journal)
  3. Jessica Dimka, Taylor P. van Doren and Heather T. Battles (2022): Pandemics, past, and present: The role of biological anthropology in interdisciplinary pandemic studies. Yearbook of Biological Anthropology, 178 (Suppl. 74): 256-291.
  4. Daniele E. Alves, Svenn-Erik Mamelund, Jessica Dimka, Lone Simonsen, Mathias Mølbak, Søren Ørskov, Lisa Sattenspiel, Lianne Tripp, Andrew Noymer, Gerardo Chowell-Puente, Sushma Dahal, Taylor P. Van Doren, Amanda Wissler, Courtney Heffernan, Kirsty Renfree Short, Heather Battles, Michael G. Baker (2022): Indigenous peoples and pandemics. Scandinavian Journal of Public health, 50 (6), 662-666.
  5. Esperanza Diaz, Jessica Dimka and Svenn-Erik Mamelund (2022): Disparities in the offer of COVID-19 vaccination to migrants and non-migrants in Norway: a cross sectional survey study. BMC Public Health, 22, 1288.
  6. Sushma Dahal, Svenn-Erik Mamelund, Ruiyan Lua, Lisa Sattenspiel, Shannon Self-Brown, Gerardo Chowell (2022): Investigating COVID-19 transmission and mortality differences between indigenous and non-indigenous populations in Mexico. International Journal of Infectious Diseases, 122, 910-920.
  7. Christina Stylegar Torjussen and Svenn-Erik Mamelund (2022): Extreme Overcrowding and Extreme Lethality During the 1918Influenza Pandemic. American Journal of Public Health, 112 (10), 1372-1373.
  8. Lara Steinmetz (2022): Sociodemographic predictors of and main reasons for COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in eastern Oslo: a cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health, 22, 1878.
  9. Pereira, Margarida; Bakkeli, Nan Zou; Dimka, Jessica; Mamelund, Svenn-Erik. “Identifying obesity and COVID-19 overlapping risk-factors: Protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis”. Journal of Public Health Research 11 3 (2022): 227990362211065. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/22799036221106584.
  10. Correia, Gustavo; Pereira, Margarida; Gomes, Andreia; Bragança, Maria do Rosário; Weber, Silke; Ferreira, Maria Amélia; Ribeiro, Laura. “Predictors of Medical Students’ Views towards Research: Insights froma Cross-Cultural Study among Portuguese-speaking Countries”. Healthcare 10 2 (2022): 336. https://www.mdpi.com/2227-9032/10/2/336#cite.

Next webinar 2 February

On 2 February at 1600 CET, Marama Muru-Lanning, University of Auckland, will present: Hongi (pressing of noses), Harirū (handshakes) and Hau (sharing breath): In the time of COVID-19.

When COVID-19 arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand, Māori responded quickly. It had become evident that kaumātua (older Māori men and women) would be especially vulnerable to the virus, given their age, living situations and often compromised health. Local hauora (health providers) and tribal leaders were active, advising Māori communities to modify social engagement practices and restrict hongi (pressing of noses), kihi (kisses), and harirū (handshakes). Our study sought to find out about kaumātua understandings of COVID-19 and pandemics, their experiences of lockdown and subsequent alert levels, and their roles within Māori communities in relation to tikanga (protocols) around social distancing (hongi, harirū and hau, or breath) and gatherings, particularly tangihanga (death and mourning rites).

Kaumātua have key leadership responsibilities within Māori communities and have been crucial in curbing the spread of COVID-19. Our ongoing research in the Tai Tokerau (Northland) and Waikato regions is interested in how kaumātua navigate the challenges still presented by COVID-19 in-light of evolving advice and regulations regarding personal distancing, self-isolation and gatherings.

Drawing on rich kōrero from our interviews I will share findings from our study that have assisted Māori communities, policy makers and health providers.

Marama Muru-Lanning is an Associate Professor of Anthropology and the Co-director of the James Henare Māori Research Centre at the University of Auckland. Her research is dedicated to transdisciplinary research with Māori communities that prioritises equity and social justice. As a social anthropologist she focuses on the cultural specificity of tangata whenua groups and their unique sense of place and belonging in Aotearoa. What distinguishes Marama internationally as a social scientist is her specialisation in four interrelated areas of research: 1. Water; 2. Human-environment relationships; relationships; 3. Mātauranga; 4. Transdisciplinary research methods. Over the past five years she has also developed a passion and advanced new approaches and methods for researching kaumātua (Māori elders) with colleagues from the James Henare Māori Research Centre.

Marama is an advisory board member of the Social Science Meets Biology: Indigenous People and Severe Influenza Outcomes – CAS – project and will visit the project group in Oslo 1-12 February 2023.

Marama is from Tūrangawaewae Marae in Ngāruawahia, this place is a potent living memorial to the many Waikato people taken by the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. She has whakapapa that connects her to Waikato, Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Whātua.

Contact jessicad@oslomet.no for a Zoom link.

CAS-project presented in Madrid

On January 12, Centre-leader at PANSOC, Svenn-Erik Mamelund, presented our CAS-project, “Social Science Meets Biology: Indigenous Peoples and Severe Influenza Outcomes” in the “Demography Today” series arranged by the Spanish National Research Council and the BBVA Foundation in Madrid. You can watch the recordings here.

Spring Webinar Series Begins!

On Thursday, 19 January, at 1600 CET, Taylor P. van Doren, Sitka Sound Science Center, will present: “Risk perception, resilience, and future population health challenges due to COVID-19 in Southeast Alaska.”

It has been broadly observed that Indigenous communities worldwide suffer greater negative outcomes than non-Indigenous populations in the same region, but there has not been a lot of work to elevate the experiences of experiencing a pandemic from the perspective of Indigenous people themselves. Over the course of the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sitka Sound Science Center and its collaborators, the Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and the RAND Corporation, collected 22 in-depth interviews with Alaska Native individuals from three island communities in Southeast Alaska to better understand how these people (and their towns) perceived the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic and how they leaned on culturally-grounded, community-centered behaviors to mitigate those risks and display considerable resilience in the face of the pandemic threat. Through additional original data sources gathered during the course of the pandemic, I will explore some of the quantitative data that supports the ethnographic research, and think about paths forward for community-centered pandemic research in rural Southeast Alaska to expand our knowledge of how people experience pandemics.

Contact jessicad@oslomet.no for a link.