Karl Hedman

Assistant Professor Sociology
Department of Social work , School of Health and Welfare
PhD in Sociology


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Dr. Karl Hedman, Ph.D., holds a doctoral degree in Sociology from Lund University, and is an Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Department of Social Work at Jönköping University. He has pursued graduate studies in sociology at University of California at Los Angeles. Karl is author of the doctoral thesis Managing Medical Emergency Calls about life-saving assistance by nurses, physicians, and emergency call-takers to people in acute crisis in calls to the Stockholm emergency center including suicide emergencies. He teaches about crisis leadership, crisis management, crisis support, team collaboration, leadership and organization, migration and integration and qualitative methods in the social work program, the master's program Interventions in Childhood, and the Research School of Health and Welfare. Karl serves as a reviewer and board member of the Editorial Board for the journal Traumatology published by the American Psychological Association, and a reviewer for International Journal of Older People Nursing, Nordic Social Work Research and Language and Communication. He is the author of the books “The Louisiana Beauty Queen” , “American Love” and "Abducted Daughters". 

From his doctoral thesis on help to people in crisis he developed and leads the master course Crisis Leadership in Social Work and the bachelor course Leadership in Crisis Management. Both courses provide an understanding of strategic focus areas for crisis leadership and management in social work. The courses expose the students to techniques and processes to construct and evaluate crisis management plans designed to evaluate, prevent and respond to crisis events for human service organisations including healthcare and social services. Theories and practices of suicide intervention, psychological resilience, psychological first aid, strategic and operational planning for crisis management, teamwork, leadership and collaboration, crisis support and ethical concerns in relation to leadership and crises will be discussed and analysed. The courses are based on a series of crisis training sessions considering various scenarios. 

Karl also leads and teaches in the master's course Team collaboration in a changing organization and the bachelor course Migration, integration and social work. Karl leads and teaches on gender relations, intersectionality, ethnicity, migration, disability, participation, and social citizenship in the course Social Work, Participation and Inclusion. Karl teaches about crisis support to children and families in the master's course The ecology of inclusion, participation and children's everyday functioning. He teaches about change and learning in organizations in Leadership and organization in social work. 

Karl is the recipient of the 2012 Pedagogical Award of the School of Health and Welfare. 

He received the 2019 International Journal of Older People Award for Outstanding Methodological Innovation in Gerontological Nursing Research. 

In 2005-2006, Karl performed crisis support work for the East Baton Rouge Parish helping evacuated children and families from New Orleans after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Louisiana. In 1999-2000, he worked with political history education for the Louisiana Secretary of State. 


His practice-based research centres on: (1) the role of social workers in suicide prevention, intervention and postvention, (2) how emergency service workers experience suicide preventative work responding to suicide emergencies, carry out suicide prevention work within public settings and coordinate crisis support efforts after suicides in Jönköping County, (3) collaboration between residential care units and psychiatry: suicide in children and young people, (4) acute assistance by nurses, physicians and emergency call-takers to people in need in medical emergency calls to the Stockholm emergency center, (5) young migrants' participation in multilingual classroom interaction in a Swedish high school, (6) protective strengths and supportive resources of older people affected by precarity in South Louisiana, United States, and (7) children's play interaction in Sweden. 

Karl uses ethnography, conversation analysis and phenomenology to explain interactional phenomena in organizational and everyday settings. His research interest takes him to settings where people need to manage possible crisis including emergency dispatch call centers, rescue services, ambulance services, and suicide emergency services. He is currently working with a database of audio-recorded emergency calls where he is examining how institutional members work to help people who are in the midst of a crisis event. The current research projects are presented here:

Suicidal clients within the social services

Karl Hedman and Nina V. Gunnarsson

The project is aimed to examine how social workers within the social services understand, encounter and work with suicidal clients. The focus in the project is on how the social services identify suicidal clients and how they assess och suicidal risk among the clients and what they do in case a clients has suicidal tendences. Interviews are carried out with managers and social workers within different operations within the social services.  

Young Migrant Participation and Inclusive Teaching Practices in Multilingual Classroom Interaction

Few empirical studies have examined practices of how teachers, student support tutors and students encourage student participation in second language (L2) interaction in upper secondary education in Sweden. A better understanding of the interactive support practices of the class participants has the potential to contribute to the development of second language education planning and delivery. The theoretical framework for this study is scaffolding theory which refers to the interactive support and social and educational support resources provided to students.

The purpose of this study is to examine practices of encouraging student participation in second language interaction from a scaffolding theoretical perspective. Participant observation and observational field notes of second language interaction conducted in Hedman’s ethnographic fieldwork in L2 classrooms in upper secondary education between 2017-2023.

Using scaffolding theory, the study advances understanding of scaffolding practices in second language interaction. In the L2 interaction, teachers, student support tutors and students acted as facilitators encouraging students to initiate narrative accounts and class participation based on their experiences and competences. The findings suggest that initiatives, support and steering by teachers, student support tutors and peer students are necessary to support student participation in L2 interaction by enhancing student participation and supportive resources of students. 

Management of Suicide Prevention Operations of the Swedish Fire and Rescue Service

Suicide is the one of the most common causes of death for people in Sweden. Interagency collaboration is paramount to the protection of suicidal persons. This research project examines interagency collaboration in suicide prevention coordinated by the fire and rescue services from an organizational theoretical perspective. A better understanding of this problem has the potential to contribute to the development of suicide prevention planning and responses. In ethnographic fieldwork in the fire and rescue service between 2018-2024 observations and interviews are conducted with fire and rescue and police professionals.

The findings in the first part of the study 2019-2020 demonstrate that the interagency collaboration of suicide prevention operations include five central parts: (1) a shared suicide emergency plan for the emergency services (ambulance services, police, fire), (2) a municipality action plan supported by the Law of protection against accidents, (3) interprofessional work groups focused on suicide prevention and crisis support, (4) proactive work educating and training fire and rescue professionals and the public in mental health first aid and suicide prevention, (5) suicide emergency response efforts, and (6) crisis preparedness and crisis support. Participants reported challenges with information sharing and communication, inconsistency in terms of the level and style of collaboration, and insufficient clarity around processes and expectations. Consistent with the identified challenges, recommendations to improve collaboration were to improve communication, manage risk together more consistently, and develop consistent processes and expectations. 

Managing Medical Emergency Calls

Since 1995, Karl examines acute help to people in medical emergency calls. This study is a conversation analytic examination of recurrent practices of interaction in Swedish medical emergency calls. The study expands the analytical focus in past research on emergency calls between emergency operators and callers to pre-hospital emergency care interaction on the phone between nurses, physicians and callers. The investigation is based on ethnographic fieldwork in the Stockholm emergency center from 1995 to 2016. The data used for the study consists primarily of audio recordings of medical emergency calls. Problems presented in the calls concern heart and respiratory problems, stroke, falls in older people, suicide attempts, and addiction. Fundamental procedures in medical emergency calls examined in the dissertation are: (1) questioning; (2) emotion management; (3) risk management and (4) instruction giving. The analysis demonstrates the importance of emergency call-takers promising emergency assistance providing a call structure to orient to when caring for patients and waiting for emergency assistance. The analysis reveals four core types of emotion management practices: (1) call-takers maintaining a calm state and avoiding going up into callers’ social displays of emotions; (2) promising emergency assistance; (3) problem solving presentations including emergency response measures to concerns of callers, and (4) emphasizing the positive to create hope for callers. Risk management in medical emergency calls consists of seven key procedures: (1) risk listening through active listening after actual and possible risks; (2) risk questioning; (3) risk identification; (4) risk monitoring; (5) risk assessment; (6) risk decision-making and (7) risk reduction. Instruction giving using directives and recommendations is accomplished in four main ways: (1) acute flow maintaining instruction giving when callers are procedurally out of line; (2) measure oriented instructions for patient care and emergency response management; (3) organizational response instructions and (4) summarizing instruction giving.

Pre-School Children's play interaction in Sweden

Karl works with audio and videotapes of interaction to analyze the principles relied upon and the methods used for children’s play interaction, power relations, gender relations, and how children dealt with girl-boy differences and cross-sex interactions. The research is based on Karl's ethnographic fieldwork and video and audio recordings of children's play in three Swedish pre-schools over a period of three years. 

Strengths and Support of Older People in Precarity in South Louisiana

Few empirical studies have examined strengths and support of older people in circumstances of precarity. A better understanding of this problem has the potential to contribute to the development of care planning and delivery. The purpose of this study is to investigate how older people deal with episodes of precarity in South Louisiana. More than 300 hr of participant observation and interviews were conducted with 20 predominantly older African American women in a housing complex for low‐income older persons and two senior citizen centres. Results: The findings demonstrate five central negative conditions of precarity that older people had to manage: (a) loss and discontinuity of home‐based healthcare services, (b) stress after loss or disruption of social support, (c) problems of poverty, (d) cognitive impairment and declining health and (e) stress of eviction. Strengths and support that older people used were as follows: (a) spiritual faith, (b) psychological strengths, (c) spiritual relationships, (d) family support, (e) friendships of love and friendships of helpfulness, (f) care and support performed by home‐based services, (g) senior centre and housing complex activities, (h) church memberships and activities, and (i) grocery store and café contacts. Conclusion: Home‐based services were not sufficient to prevent and reduce precarity for older people because of a lack of and discontinuities in these services. This study adds to the literature about precarity among community‐based older people by demonstrating gaps in care support and medication access. The findings suggest that ongoing state funding and support by home‐ based services are necessary to support frail older people in precarious living conditions to survive and handle stressful life events by reducing vulnerability and enhancing strengths and supportive resources of older people.


Karl has authored journal articles and book chapters focused on young migrant participation and inclusive teaching practices in multilingual classroom interaction, suicide prevention, emergency and crisis management, medical emergency calls, emotion management, crisis learning, team working and collaborative processes in prehospital emergency care, strengths and support of vulnerable older people, quality improvement in health care, patient safety, consultations between physicians and patients and person centred care.

Publication list

Hedman, K. (Forthcoming). Abducted Daughters. Amazon.

Hedman, K. (2023). Interagency collaboration in suicide prevention. In Community Empowerment and Respecting Diversity. SYSTED 23, Mongolia, Systems and Empowerment Sciences for Lifepspan Development.

Hedman, K. (2022). Young migrant participation and inclusive teaching practices in multilingual classroom interaction. In E. Diogo & R. Melo, (Eds.), Práticas e Políticas - Inspiradoras e Inovadoras com Imigrantes. Edições Esgotadas.

Hedman, K. (2022). American Love. Karl Hedman. Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0BB7R9HLV   About schizophrenia, catatonia and psychosis.

Hedman, K. (2021). The Louisiana Beauty Queen. Karl Hedman. Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Louisiana-Beauty-Queen-Karl-Hedman-ebook/dp/B09MGB83HM/ref=tmm_kin_title_sr?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= About caring for family members with mental illness, brain cancer and dementia.

Torgé, C. J., Hedman, K. & Ernsth-Bravell, M. (2021). Suicidpreventivt arbete i Jönköpings län. Exempel på samverkan mellan olika professioner med räddningstjänsten som samordnare. The Public Health Agency. 

Hedman, K., Henning, C. & Svensson, L. (2019). Empowering Older People in Different Contexts Through Social Ties. In Anme, T., (Ed). Creating Empowerment in Communities: Theory and Practice from an International Perspective, (pp. 95-111). Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers. 

Hedman K. Strengths and support of older people affected by precarity in South Louisiana. (2019). Int J Older People Nurs. Jun;14(2):e12232. https://doi.org/10.1111/opn.12232

Hedman, K. & Torgé, C. J. (2018). Räddningstjänstens suicidpreventionsarbete i Region Jönköpings län. In: : . Paper presented at CISA (Centrum för interprofessionell samverkan och sambruk inom akut vård) Konferens: Prestigelöst samarbete över organisations- och professionsgränser, 23 October 2018, Linneus University, Växjö, Sweden.

Hedman, K. (2017). Kris som läranderesurs – Hur orkanen Katrina förändrade New Orleans. Geografiska Notiser Nr 1. http://www.geografitorget.se/gn/nr/2017/bil/2-06.pdf 

Hedman, K. (2016). Managing Emotions in Medical Emergency Calls. IMPACT Journal Nov 2.

Hedman, K. (2016). Managing Medical Emergency Calls. Lund: Lunds universitet (Dissertation). https://lup.lub.lu.se/search/ws/files/7712896/Karl_Hedman_webb.pdf 

Hedman, K., Siouta, E., Hedberg, B. Broström, A. (2012) Interactional resistance between patients with atrial fibrillation and cardiologists in consultation on treatment with warfarin: the value of shared decision-making. The International Journal of Person Centered Medicine, 2(3), 427-436.

Hedman, K. (2012). Samtal mellan ambulanssjuksköterska, jourhavande läkare och patient, bokkapitel i Pia Bülow, Daniel Persson Thunqvist & Inger Sandén (Eds.), Delaktighetens praktik: det professionella samtalets villkor och möjligheter, (pp. 41-55). Gleerups Utbildning. http://hj.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:561012/FULLTEXT02.pdf

Karlsson, G, Hedman, K. & Fridlund, B. (2011). Views on patient safety by operations managers in somatic hospital care: a qualitative analysis, Open Journal of Nursing 1, 33-42.

Hedman, K. (2007). Larmhanteringen vid den svåra orkanen Katrina. Signalen nr 2, 20-23. Tidningen ”För ett tryggare samhälle”, SOS Alarm. 

Hedman, K. (1995). Barns lek: Könsskillnader syns tydligt. Välfärdsbulletinen. Statistiska centralbyråns tidning om arbetsliv och välfärd Nr 4.


Hedman, K. (2019). Strengths and support of older people affected by precarity in South Louisiana International Journal of Older People Nursing, 14(2). More information
Hedman, K. (2016). Managing Emotions in Swedish Medical Emergency Calls IMPACT Journal, 2, 1-12 Alicante: University of Alicante . More information
Siouta, E., Hedberg, B., Hedman, K., Broström, A. (2012). Interactional resistance between patients with atrial fibrillation and cardiologists in consultation on treatment with warfarin: the value of shared decision-making The International Journal of Person Centered Medicine, 2(3), 427-436. More information
Karlsson, G., Hedman, K., Fridlund, B. (2011). Views on patient safety by operations managers in somatic hospital care: a qualitative analysis Open Nursing Journal, 1(3), 33-42. More information

Doctoral thesis

Hedman, K. (2016). Managing Medical Emergency Calls (Doctoral thesis, Lund: Lund University Open Access). More information

Book chapter

Hedman, K., Henning, C., Svensson, L. (2019). Empowering older people in different contexts through social ties. In: T. Anme (Ed.), Creating empowerment in communities: Theory and practice from an international perspective Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc. More information

Conference paper

Hedman, K. (2019). Encouraging student participation in intercultural classroom interaction. 18th Biennial EARLI Conference for Research on Learning and Instruction, Thinking Tomorrow’s Education: Learning from the past, in the present, and for the future, 12-16 August 2019, Rheinisch-Westfaelische Technische Hochschule, Aachen, Germany. More information
Hedman, K., Torgé, C. (2019). Suicide prevention services in Jönköping, Sweden. The Patient and Population Health and Informatics (PPH) Seminar Series, 28 October 2019, Swansea University, Medical School, Swansea, United Kingdom. More information
Hedman, K., Torgé, C. (2018). Räddningstjänstens suicidpreventionsarbete i Region Jönköpings län. CISA (Centrum för interprofessionell samverkan och sambruk inom akut vård) Konferens: Prestigelöst samarbete över organisations- och professionsgränser, 23 October 2018, Linneus University, Växjö, Sweden. More information