The groups research areas

Our aim

The aim is to develop practical solutions and provide evidence based knowledge to healthcare professionals and policy makers to improve the sexual and reproductive health and related services in a global perspective.

We follow a transdisciplinary approach in our research through engaging with relevant academic and non-academic stakeholders to shorten the distance between research and implementation of findings.

The research group consists of researchers from different academic disciplines and nationalities. This mix gives the group strength, width and depth that are crucial for quality and interdisciplinary research in an international setting.

The group is at the forefront of researching various aspects affecting the health of immigrants including refugees. Research projects carried out by the group range from identifying factors to promote health in immigration detention centers, exploring factors for successful reception and integration of unaccompanied minors to identifying challenges and solutions to improve the quality of sexual and reproductive healthcare services provided to immigrants in Europe. Our understanding of immigrants and their health in their home countries help us to better understand their challenges in Sweden and to find solutions - a logical part of global reproductive health.

In 2018, Professor Birgitta Essén received a prestigious major research environment grant of 18 million Swedish krona from the Swedish Research Council (VR) for migration and integration. Read more at the VR website. The aim of the grant is “to create added value from collaboration in larger groupings than in a normal project, and to create a long-term perspective”. The overall purpose of the research environment is to develop many years of interdisciplinary research in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) from a migration perspective. The research programme will renew knowledge within SRHR, a subject that is at the intersection of biomedicine and culture. With a multidisciplinary environment, we are advancing the research front and have built a unique “Knowledge Center on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Migration”. You can read more about the projects connected to the research environment under "Migration and Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH)"

The research group

The very nature of academic scholarship is  critical investigation and critical dialogue. Our interdisciplinary group explores, investigates and intervenes to improve the health of people and healthcare services in Sweden and countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Along with our partners, we learn and contribute to the society to promote health, especially sexual and reproductive health, and health within the context of migration.  We raise questions that are challenging, often paradoxical and unconventional, in order to understand the complexity of the concept of SRHR. We create bridges between countries and societies through exchange of knowledge and engagement with partners in the respective countries. 

Our research in the media

You can read more news at the department main website.​

The research group's contribution to policy and clinical practice

  • We have had two governmental commissions on female circumcision and clinical guidelines for meeting patient seeking-care for honour-related violence on behalf of the Minister of Gender and Equity resulting in hand books for professionals. Expert contribution to The Swedish Board of Health and Social Welfare, with new national guidelines for health care providers meeting women and children with cultural background of circumcision of children.
  • The results from study on health of immigrants detained in Swedish detention centers have been disseminated in collaboration with the Swedish Migration Agency. It had resulted in majority of our recommendations being implemented or forming the basis to improve services, especially health care services, provided for immigrants and to improve the training provided for detention staff.
  • A Swedish Governmental Inquiry from February 2016 about the legal issues on surrogacy, refers to our study with commissioning parents and social workers dealing with legal parenthood after transnational surrogacy. The referrals are based on interviews with Anna Arvidsson and the paper; “Views of Swedish commissioning parents relating to exploitation discourse in using transnational surrogacy”. The inquiry’s advice regarding transnational surrogacy would, to some extent, facilitate for the genetic father to become a legal parent, in order to secure the child’s legal status.
  • The findings from the randomized controlled trial on simplified follow-up of medical abortion was cited and used as strong evidence to come up with a set of recommendations by the WHO, which has resulted in the publication of the guideline ”Health workers’ role in providing safe abortion care and post-abortion contraception”. Our research was the only research that could contribute to recommendations on simplified follow-up after medical abortion in low-resource settings where women are largely illiterate and where autonomy is limited.  WHO has also used our results from Tanzania in order to develop guidelines based on The Robson classification for reducing high rates of caesarean sections in low income settings.
  • At the University  Hospital of Uppsala, Akademiska sjukhuset, Birgitta Essén is running a transcultural  clinic especially for immigrant women and young girls, focusing on reproductive health and obstetric problems, as well as female circumcision.

Knowledge Center on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Migration

The Knowledge Center on Sexual and Reproductive health and Migration aims to bridge the gap between knowledge and practice, by 1) collecting and disseminating evidence based knowledge about sexual reproductive health and migration, and 2) educating, raising awareness, and informing healthcare providers in their practice.

The Knowledge Center website.

Scientific seminars and workshops

Research Seminar in Falsterbo 2016 (in Swedish) 

Scientific Nordic Network in Global Reproductive Health

The research group has been hosting network meetings in Uppsala since 2009, where researchers from Nordic countries meet and discuss various aspects of SRHR in low-income countries and refugees in the Western countries.

  • 2018: Research and development in SRHR - a hot but threatened field?
  • 2016: Sexual and reproductive health without borders—Research om women in disaster zones and in migrants in Europe
  • 2015: Religion and reproductive health as a research question, with focus on rights and respect
  • 2013: Pregnancy & reproductive rights – to what price?
  • 2012: When culture and politics meet research questions within reproductive health
  • 2011:”Maternal Near Miss” in different contexts – what can we learn through methodology?
  • 2010: Female genital cutting as a research topic
  • 2010: Caesarean sections among immigrants and in low-income settings
  • 2009: Abortion among foreign-born women in the Nordic countries – what can we learn from research in their home countries?


  • The research group is highly involved in teaching students at an advance level in midwifery, medicine and public health at Uppsala University, at courses advance level in Global Health, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, and Research methods and has been delivering customized courses for various professional groups such as policemen and social workers in trafficking, domestic violence and female circumcision.
  • We provide multicultural training for midwives and other nurses as well as medical doctors at health centers and hospitals in Sweden.
  • The group is part of the prestigious Network on Humanitarian Action (NOHA) at the Uppsala University.
  • A new free-standing course on "Migration, Health and Ethics" has been developed by the members of the group aimed at improving understanding on migration and to promote evidence based discussion in the society and workplaces. The course is open for anyone including general public, healthcare professionals and civil servants to apply.
  • Interdisciplinary course on migration, health and ethics. This is an evening course with approximately 1 lecture per week and the study pace (studietakt) is 25%. 
  • Courses for police: "Brott mot barn och ungdomar. Steg 1 - Utredningsmedtodik 15 hp". and "Människohandel - Utredningsmetodik 4,5 hp".

Collaborating centres and alumni


  • Professor Kristina Gemzell, WHO collaborating center, Karolinska Institutet (
  • Professor Sara Johnsdotter and Associate Professor Aje Carlbom Malmö Högskola (
  • Associate Professor Lennarth Nyström, Umeå universitet (
  • Högskolan Dalarna (
  • International Organization for Migration, Brussels (
  • Professor Elisabeth Darj, Department of Public Health and General Practice, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway (
  • WHO Regional Office for Europe


Latin America


Last modified: 2024-02-02