Public Release: 

Uppsala scientists behind acclaimed health site

Swedish Research Council

The health site PQL, which has been tested by Swedish Broadcasting Corporation, among others, has been shown to have a clear effect on health. For instance, treatment via the Internet counteracted stress-related reduction of DHEA, an "anti-aging" hormone. PQL is the result of several years of research at Uppsala University, and recently, in stiff European competition, won honorary mention in the finals of the contest titled "eHealth Awards."

In the last decade stress-related disorders have increased dramatically. A report published by the WHO (Global Burdern of Disease) predicts that these problems will continue to rise in coming decades. Above and beyond personal suffering, stress-related disorders cause economic distress for individuals, companies, and society in general.

Today there is a large array of health-related services available on the Net, but quality-assured information and applications are often lacking. PQL is the only method in the world that has managed to create a diagnosis and treatment program that leads to improvement in stress management, sleep, ability to concentrate, performance, and general well-being, both biological and mental. What is unique about the research behind PQL is its scientific assessment, using psychosocial, biological, and production measures. The scientists behind the method are Professor Bengt Arnetz and doctoral student Dan Hansson, at the Department of Public Health and Caring Science. A few years ago they became interested in what maintains health in times of change, and chose to monitor various groups at leading international IT companies and sections of Swedish Broadcasting Corporation.

"These are lines of business that undergo tremendous change and often work in short, intensive projects," says Bengt Arnetz. One group was administered PQL with feedback, while another group followed the treatment via the Internet, for conflict management or stress management, for example. In the latter group a follow-up study showed a clear impact, on the one hand, on sleep and the ability to concentrate and, on the other, on physiological factors, such as sex hormones.

"It turned out that DHEA, a hormone that normally declines with age, did not go down in the group that received treatment," adds Bengt Arnetz.

PQL, which was developed with research funding from Alecta, is in use as of this year as a health-promoting tool at the university, based on a decision by the university president. The PQL tool is available for free on the Internet, and it is also available in English. It is also sold to companies.

The contest "eHealth Awards" is organized by the EU Commission, and the winners were chosen in Ireland recently as part of a conference titled "Empowering the Citizens through Tools and Services." The aim of the competition is to promote good models in EU countries, as well as future members and EFTA countries. It represents an exchange of experience in fulfillment of the Lisbon objectives of making Europe the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world by 2010.


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