Course Syllabus


Public Health Policy in Practice

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Semester & Location:

Spring 2020 - DIS Stockholm

Type & Credits:

Elective Course - 3 credits

Major Disciplines:

Public Health, Pre-Medicine/Health Science

Faculty Member:

Åsa Samuelsson Ökmengil

Program Director:

Susana Dietrich

Time & Place:

Mondays and Thursdays, 11:40-13:00, 1D-509



Åsa Samuelsson Ökmengil

PhD in medical science from Karolinska Institutet (2013). MSc in Public Health with the specialization Work & Health from Maastricht University, the Netherlands (2008). BSc in Public Health from Mälardalen University (2007). Project assistant in the HOUPE (Health and Organisation among University Physicians in Europe)-study 2014. Analyst at the Swedish National Social Insurance Agency January – July 2015.  Trainee in Work Disability Prevention 2012-2015, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Toronto University, Canada. Since May 2018 Doctoral Students’ Ombudsperson at the Medical Students Union, Karolinska Institutet. With DIS since fall 2019. 

Course Description

Sweden is facing a number of current challenges, including achieving cost-effectiveness in health care, and addressing public health concerns relating to migration and increasing inequalities. This course provides an overview of the Swedish health system, in relation to the broader welfare state, and in relation to other Scandinavian and European countries. Through a number of case studies, students will gain insight into how Scandinavian countries, particularly Sweden, assess public health challenges through research, economic evaluation, and an equity & rights-based perspective. Furthermore, students will explore, analyze, and discuss how public health policies are developed and implemented in practice.


Expected Learning Outcomes

After successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Analyze, explain and discuss the Swedish health care system and welfare state
  • Compare the Swedish system with other European and high-income countries, such as the US and Canada
  • Compare and discuss different policy options for addressing current public health challenges in Sweden
  • Discuss the use of research and economic evaluation in setting health policy
  • Assess performance and quality across health systems
  • Reflect on how policies are implemented in practice


Teaching Methods

Different teaching formats will be used. The course may be a mix of interactive lectures, class discussions, group work, student presentations and peer feedback. A major part of the course will be based on debating issues, and students are expected to engage actively in oral presentations, discussions, group work and exercises.


Field Studies

Two field studies are planned.  1) The first is a visit to Stockholm municipality where students will get acquainted with, among all, alcohol prevention activities towards youth. The second (2) is a Healthy city walk around Stockholm. Further information regarding the visits will be provided as the dates approach. The field visit sites are subject to change.


Evaluation and Grading

To be eligible for a passing grade in this class all of the assigned work must be completed.

Late assignments will be accepted, but the grade for the paper will be reduced.

The factors influencing the final grade and the proportional importance of each factor is shown below:


Component Weight
Attendance 20%
Mid-term quiz 30%
Group project on human resources for health 25%
Showcase poster 25%



Attendance is measured in regards to both participation and activity level during class. Missed classes and late arrival to class are reasons for reduced grade.

Field studies and Assignment Talk to Swedes

The field studies and the assignment “Talk to Swedes” are mandatory to complete but will not be graded. Students who fail to participate in the field studies and/or the assignment “Talk to Swedes” will be given one opportunity to do additional assignment(s) to hand in.

Mid-term quiz

The mid-term quiz is an individual assignment and will cover class materials/readings from class 2-8. The quiz will become available in Canvas after the 8th class on the 17th of February at 1 PM.  

Group project on human resources for health

In groups of 3-4, students will prepare a 1000-word report on human resources for health, which they will present in class.

Showcase poster

In groups of 2-3, students will design a poster for the Academic Showcase at the end of the term. The topic of the -poster is decided by the students.

Expectations of Students & Code of Conduct

  • Laptops may be used for note‐taking, fact‐checking, or assignment in the classroom, but only when indicated by the instructor. At all other times laptops and electronic devices should be put away during class time.
  • Reading must be done prior to the class session; a huge part of the class is dependent on discussions in class.
  • Students need to be present and participating to receive full credit. The final grade will be affected by non-approved absences and lack of participation. Remember to be in class on time!
  • Classroom etiquette includes being respectful of other opinions, listening to others and entering a dialogue in a constructive manner.
  • Students are expected to ask relevant questions in regards to the material covered.

Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:

 DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -


DIS Contacts

Mark Peters, Academic Coordinator of Stockholm,

Tina Mangieri, Associate Academic Director, Stockholm;

Susana Dietrich, Science & Health Program Director;

Louise Bagger Iversen, Science & Health Assistant Program Director,



Required Class Materials*

 *Specific readings/videos are assigned for each class session.  Please see the individual Canvas page for each class. The class materials might be subject to change over the semester.

General readings for course

Anell A, Glenngård AH, Merkur, S. (2012) Sweden: Health system review. Health Systems in Transition. WHO Regional Office for Europe.

OECD/EU (2018). Health at a Glance: Europe 2018: State of Health in the EU Cycle. OECD Publishing, Paris.

OECD (2019). Health at a Glance 2019: OECD indicators. OECD Publishing, Paris.

  1. Welfare models

Esping-Andersen, G. (1990). The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Princeton University Press. Princeton, New Jersey.

  1. Welfare - Health care

EU (2019). State of Health in the EU: Sweden Country Health Profile 2019. European Commission.

  1. Welfare – Working life & Social insurance

Social insurance: Swedish Government (2016). Social Insurance in Sweden. Ministry of Health & Social Affairs, Stockholm.

  • Available online:

Working life:

  1. Welfare – Social relations

A video – Swedish Theory of Love;

  1. Introduction to public health

Braveman, P. and Gruskin, S. (2003) Defining Equity in Health. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. 57: 254-257.

Marmot, M. (2005). Social Determinants of health inequities. Lancet. 365(9464): 1099-1104.

And a video by Sir Michael Marmot; Sir Michael Marmot: Social Determinants of Health (2014 WORLD.MINDS)

  1. Making health policy

Buse, K., Mays, N., Walt, G. (2012). Making Health Policy. McGraw-Hill and Open University Press.

The Swedish Public Health Policy;

  1. EU health policy

Greer, S.L., et al. (2014). Everything you always wanted to know about European Union health policies but were afraid to ask. WHO Regional Office for Europe.

Optional reading: Towse, A., Pistollato, M., et al (2015). European Union Pharmaceutical Markets: A Case for Differential Pricing? International Journal of the Economics of Business. 22 (2):263-275

  1. Mental health

Sommer, M. (2016). Mental health among youth in Sweden: Who is responsible? What is being done? Nordic Center for Welfare & Social Issues.

  • Available online;

And a video on stressful working life; Stress at work - an awareness-raising campaign for a healthy working life (long version)

  1. Alcohol Policy

Agardh, E.E., et al. (2016) Alcohol-attributed disease burden in four Nordic countries: a comparison using the Global Burden of Disease, Injuries and Risk Factors 2013 study.  Addiction. Online first.

Raninen, J., Härkönen, J. and Landberg, J. (2016) Long-term effects of changes in Swedish alcohol policy: can alcohol policies effective during adolescence impact consumption during adulthood? Addiction. 111:1021-1026.

12. Illicit drugs

Chatwin, C. (2016). Mixed Messages from Europe on Drug Policy Reform: The Cases of Sweden and the Netherlands. Improving Global Drug Policy: Comparative Perspectives and UNGASS 2016.

Swedish Government (2014). Swedish Drug Policy – a Balanced Policy based on Health and Human Rights. Ministry of Health & Social Affairs, Stockholm.

  1. Climate change & Public health

Video about the climate crisis:

A documentary about bikes vs cars;

  1. Epidemiology

Carneiro, I. and Howard, N., (2011). Introduction to Epidemiology. 2nd Ed. McGraw-Hill and Open University Press. 

Ludvigsson, J.F. et al (2016). Registers of the Swedish total population and their use in medical research. European Journal of Epidemiology. 31:125–136.

Stenbeck et al (2013). Swedish registers - A unique resource for health and welfare. The SIMSAM project, Karolinska Institutet.

  1. Health economics

To be announced

  1. Performance of the Swedish health care system

EU (2014). Communication from the commission on effective, accessible and resilient health system. European Union, Brussels.

Optional reading: Svanborg-Sjövall, K. (2014) Swedish healthcare is the best in the world, but there are still lessons to learn. The Guardian. 2 January 2014. 

  1. Life-style & Public health

WHO (2013). Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Sweden. WHO Regional Office Europe; (Links to an external site.)

WHO (2018). Sweden Physical Activity Factsheet 2018. WHO Regional Office Europe;

  1. Private health care

Dahlgren, G. (2014). Why Public Health Services? Experiences from Profit-Driven Health in Sweden. Care Reforms in Sweden. International Journal of Health Services, 44(3) pp 507–524.

Optional reading; Ramesh, R. (2012) Private Healthcare: the lessons from Sweden. The Guardian. 18 December 2012.

  1. Possible guest lecture

To be announced.

Course Summary:

Date Details