Netzwerk Selbsthilfe: Students Conduct Interviews with Chronically Ill People

Public Health/Health Sciences bachelor’s students at the University of Bremen are conducting research on chronic illnesses. The seminar project is in cooperation with Netzwerk Selbsthilfe Bremen-Nordniedersachsen e.V. Students will present first results of their surveys on July 12, 2022, at 6 p.m.

Cancer, multiple sclerosis, adult ADHD – they are all chronic illnesses that can severely impact the lives of those affected. Long COVID has now also been added, an illness with which sufferers are often left in the dark because not that much is known about it as yet. “From their interviews, students have reported that those with the illness are often sent from one doctor to the next. Those around them also often react helplessly, and the sick feel abandoned,” says lecturer Dr. Wolfgang Hien, who is scientifically accompanying the project. Long COVID is frequently linked to causing neurological and psychological disorders, including depression, anxiety, despair, and suicidal thoughts. The project will not focus on the medical issues, but on how the illness changes the lives of those affected, how the family, social and professional environment reacts, and where gaps in the care system occur. The research is intended to help make the public aware of the topic of chronic illnesses.

Interviews with Chronically Ill People

In the seminar “Chronische Krankheit im Lebensverlauf” (Chronic Illness during the Course of Life), students conduct qualitative interviews with chronically ill people, evaluate them in working groups, and produce a scientific project report from them. The seminar is part of the one-year research and practice module, in which students take their first steps “in the field” and learn to work empirically as independently as possible.
Through the cooperation with the Netzwerk Selbsthilfe, the students gained access to the self-help groups, in which they could present their project and find people to interview. “It’s of great importance to us to give young people a better understanding of the intricacy of self-help,” says Katharina Renout from Netzwerk Selbsthilfe, adding that the advantages of participating in a group became clear to the seminar participants through the interviews with those affected. She hopes more young people will now consider self-help both personally and professionally.  

Chronically Ill People Are Still Stigmatized

The cooperation aims to raise public awareness of the issue of chronic illnesses, which affect one in three people in Germany. “Chronically ill people are still stigmatized and excluded. This, and not just the illness itself, has an extremely negative impact over course of their lives. They often have to make considerable efforts to continue participating in society and the world of work. But the internal and external barriers are built high,” emphasizes Katharina Renout. The teaching, research, and cooperation project aims to critically address barriers like these and demonstrate that chronic illness is a normal part of life in our society. Dr. Wolfgang Hien from the University of Bremen: “Every lesson lives from theory and practice. I am pleased that our program has been able to maintain this mutually beneficial collaboration with Netzwerk Selbsthilfe even under the rather difficult circumstances that existed during the pandemic.”

Students present key interim findings at a public event for discussion. Those interested are welcome to attend. The stories of people affected by multiple sclerosis, ADHD, breast cancer, and long COVID are brought up.
Time: Tuesday, July 12, 2022, 6 p.m.
Location: University of Bremen, Grazer Strasse 2A, Room H 0100

Further Information:


Dr. Wolfgang Hien
Institute for Public Health and Nursing Research
University of Bremen
Tel.: +49 421 3309887
E-Mail: whienprotect me ?!gmxprotect me ?!.de
whienprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de

Katharina Renout
Netzwerk Selbsthilfe
Tel.: +49 421 704581
Email: katharina.renoutprotect me ?!netzwerk-selbsthilfeprotect me ?!.com



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