Challenged Workforce Boundaries: The Implementation of Prevention of Lifestyle-Related Diseases in Danish Hospitals Considered As a Trans-Local Health Professional Project

Friday, 20 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Inge Kryger PEDERSEN, Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Noncommunicable diseases are the leading cause of death globally and reducing the global burden of such chronic diseases is an overriding priority of The World Health Organization’s work. This paper will trace the emergence of ‘prevention of lifestyle-related diseases’ as a trans-local professional jurisdiction, focusing on profession-driven interventions and initiatives in Denmark. The notion of ‘trans-local’ refers to projects where professional groups seek wider than local or national changes, but also across scales of local, regional, and global forms of acting and organizing. Thus, this paper focuses on how professionals impact upon, and are themselves influenced by, changing local as well as global contexts of health professional work - which is a question yet to be systematically explored within sociological research on the topic of global transformations and changes of professional’s work.

Empirical materials include documents (standard procedures, registration forms), reports, articles and debates; qualitative in-depth interviews conducted with health professionals, managers and key persons about goals, dilemmas and practices related to health promotion and prevention of chronic diseases; ‘site-visits’ at Danish hospitals and centres of lifestyle and health promotion. This qualitative approach stresses the concrete relations, settings, and situations in which professional power is shaped and exercised. The choice of interviewing provides access to agendas, understandings and opinions about interviewees’ daily work and experiences.

Findings and conceptual considerations focus on professionals’ work, health political changes and new educations related to prevention of lifestyle-related diseases. The discussion addresses the conceptual challenge to ‘ecologizing’ trans-local professional projects and ‘transnationalizing’ their linked ecologies (Abbott 2005), such as professions, universities, and health policy. Important political and organizational changes within the latest two decades will demonstrate how professional disease prevention projects draw together local, national and transnational stakes, resources and arenas of interaction.