Head of Division

Prof. Dr. Mark Schweda

+49 (0)441 798-5824

Postal Address

Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg
Faculty VI Medicine and Health Services
Department of Health Services Research
Medical Ethics Division
Ammerländer Heerstr. 114-118
26129 Oldenburg

Visting Address

Campus Haarentor, Building V04
Ammerländer Heerstraße 140
26129 Oldenburg

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Life Course

Technology and Digital Transformation

Health Services in Sociocultural Context

(By clicking on the respective research focus, the corresponding projects will be displayed.)

Theoretical, ethical and social implications of AI for neuropsychiatric research and practice (TESIComP)

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Mark Schweda (Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg), Prof. Dr. Stefan Teipel (Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen e.V. (DZNE) in der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft, Standort Rostock), Prof. Dr. Oliver Gruber (Universitätsmedizin Heidelberg)

Project Members (Division of Ethics in Medicine): Eike Buhr

Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Funding Reference: 01GP2216A

Duration: 2023-2026

AI-based approaches such as machine learning using neural networks are increasingly being used in neuropsychiatric research and practice. They are intended to enable more precise prediction, early detection and diagnosis, and thus also more effective treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. However, the basis of the results obtained with these methods of computational psychiatry is often no longer fully comprehensible for professional users as well as for patients and their relatives. This opacity of AI-based approaches raises fundamental theoretical, ethical, and social questions for neuropsychiatric research and practice: How do AI-based expert systems change our understanding of psychiatry and neuropsychiatric disorders? What are their implications for the role of the clinician, the identity of patients, and their relationship?

The overarching goal of this interdisciplinary collaborative project is to empirically identify, ethically evaluate, and scientifically assess theoretical and practical implications and consequences of computational psychiatry at the levels of neuropsychiatric research and clinical practice. The focus is on two prominent use cases of AI-based approaches: Alzheimer's disease and depressive disorders. To address the aforementioned questions, the project combines ethical and social science methods. In a first theoretical phase, we conduct literature analyses, expert and focus groups interviews to develop an up-to-date and practical overview of the state of the art. In a second explorative phase, we use qualitative social research methods to analyze the views of researchers, clinicians, and patients. The third, evaluative phase is dedicated to the scientific-theoretical and ethical evaluation of the data material and includes a Delphi procedure with leading experts. The results will be published in scientific journals and will be incorporated into empirically informed ethical recommendations for psychiatric practice, technology development and policy makers.

Contact: Eike Buhr ()

Cross-border Health Data Compass as a Basis for Comparative Studies (TP1 CHARE-GD I)

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Andreas Hein, Prof. Dr. Mark Schweda, Prof. Dr. Jochen Mierau, Prof. Dr. Viola Angelini, Dr. Tobias Vogt

Project Members: Dr. Sebastian Specht (OFFIS)

Funding: Ministry of Science and Culture of Lower Saxony (MWK)

Duration: 2021–2024

As a mainly rural area with only few high-density urban centers, the interplay between life course health and mobility and (socioeconomic) environment is at the center of interest for the Ems-Dollart region. Comparative studies that aim to tackle questions of life course health and mobility need reliable small area data and preferably individual level data on demography, socio economics, transport infrastructure and health system structure. This is also decisive for the future facilitation of cross-border health services provision and healthcare utilization based on such comparative research. In an iterative process, this sub-project of CHARE-GD I will develop a Cross-border Health Data Compass (CHDC) to support studies in public health, health services research and clinical research that will investigate similarities and differences in care on both sides of the border and support the improvement of healthcare utilization for patients in the region. In a requirement-analysis track, different groups of stakeholders will be interviewed about their needs and existing data sources will be identified. In a second technical implementation track, the results feed into a software engineering process where data structures will be defined and implemented. In a third evaluation track, the scope, presentation and functionality of the aggregated and harmonized data will be reviewed by the stakeholders / principal investigators of the three subprojects in focus group discussions and will be released in accordance with the data protection regulations of the countries. The Cross-Border Health Data Compass will constitute an important basis and tool for future comparative cross-border projects. It will provide researchers with national and cross border data and facilitate access to data sources. Researchers in clinical/study contexts are provided with means to aggregate research data into cross border indicators. In establishing a cross-border perspective for service provision and healthcare utilization, it will increase the potential benefit for patients and healthcare providers alike.

Contact: Dr. Sebastian Specht ()

Project Website:

The Use of Closed Doors in Dementia Wards. Comparing Cultural and Moral Perspectives as well as Contexts for Mutual Learning in the Cross-border Region (CHARE-GD II Subproject V)

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Mark Schweda, Dr. Elleke Landeweer (University of Groningen)

Project Members: Dr. Jodi Sturge (University of Groningen)

Funding: Ministry of Science and Culture of Lower Saxony (MWK)

Funding Reference: ZN3831

Duration: 2022–2023

A closed-door policy in dementia care units is contested as it limits individual freedom and mobility of residents, raising moral questions regarding the right balance between freedom and safety. In both German and Dutch wards, various strategies have been implemented to deal with this problem. However, there is a lack of knowledge on which interventions are used for what reasons, under what circumstances, and to what effect. Against this backdrop, the project pursues the following research questions: What are the interventions and strategies used to prevent residents from wandering outside the premises and/ or safeguard residents’ health and wellbeing in both regions as well as their perceived success?  What are differences and similarities between the two regions and between the healthcare professionals’ moral perspectives regarding the use of closed doors? How can both sides of the border improve their practice through knowledge exchange and mutual learning as well as dissemination of our findings? The study uses a mixed method design, starting with a literature search to map studied interventions and their considered pros and cons, as well as a document and policy analysis. The quantitative part collects data in 4 care units per region regarding 10-15 residents per unit. For the qualitative part, interviews with stakeholders  and observations will be conducted within the care units. Per unit, first outcomes will be discussed in a heterogeneous focus group meeting. Results per unit and region will be compared and thematically analyzed combined with an ethical analysis. For valorization and implementation of results, site visits between the regions will be organized and a symposium to develop shared learning lessons will be held.

Contact: Dr. Elleke Landeweer (

Project Website:

Moral Conflicts in Familial Dementia Care Involving Migrant Live-in Carers in Germany and Israel: A Comparative-Ethical Exploration and Analysis (MoDeCare)

Principal Investigators: Dr. Merle Weßel (Ethics in Medicine, Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg) (PI), Dr. Milena von Kutzleben (Organizational Health Services Research, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg), Prof. Dr. Mark Schweda (Ethics in Medicine, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg), Prof. Liat Ayalon (Bar Ilan University)

Project Members (Division of Ethics in Medicine): Dr. Merle Weßel

Funding: VolkswagenStiftung

Funding Reference: 11-76251-2684/2021 ZN 3864

Duration: 2022–2024

Population ageing leads to a higher prevalence of dementia and thus an increasing need for care for those affected. Dementia Disease is characterized by the gradual loss of cognitive capabilities and an increasing need for help and care. This need cannot be fulfilled sufficiently by professional care workers and informal carers. In many countries, migrant live-in carers have become a common solution to fill this care void, e.g. Germany and Israel. However, these live-in care arrangements are prone to considerable social, legal, and moral difficulties. Nowadays, migrant care workers, employed by families, are expected to provide 24-hour care while living with their patients. Israel has created binding legal regulations whereas, in Germany, a legal framework is absent.

This project focuses on the comparative empirical exploration of moral conflicts in live-in care arrangements in Germany and Israel and their ethical reflection. Therefore, different levels will be examined. In the triad itself the moral and intercultural conflicts, the distribution of roles within the families, and the caring responsibilities are important aspects. On the meso level the interaction between family and agency will be analyzed, as well as the response to the need for more care capacities, regulatory differences, and the consequences brought by current neoliberal development on the macro level. The data will be collected by conducting group interviews within the triad with the person with dementia, the live-in, and the relatives and with groups of experts.

The aim is to develop a more profound understanding of moral conflicts in live-in dementia care in Germany and Israel in order to formulate empirically informed ethical recommendations for care providers and policy makers.

Contact: Dr. Merle Weßel (), Anna-Eva Nebowsky ()

Project Website:

DFG-Research Group: Medicine, Time and the Good Life

Research Group Speaker: Prof. Dr. Claudia Wiesemann (University Medical Center Göttingen)

Principal Investigator (Division of Ethics in Medicine): Prof. Dr. Mark Schweda

Project Members (Division of Ethics in Medicine): Lena Stange, M.Sc. 

Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG)

Funding Reference: FOR 5022

Duration: 2021–2025

Perceptions of the good life provide practical orientation – also in the context of medicine. However, the role of time and temporality has not been systematically researched in this context. The Research Group Medicine, Time and the Good Life addresses this complex issue from an interdisciplinary perspective. The goal is an empirically informed systematization of temporal conditions of the good life in the context of modern medicine. To this end, the group combines research perspectives from philosophy, medical ethics, medicine, modern literature and media studies, as well as sociology/social psychology organized in eight sub-projects. They address different medical fields of application and biographical phases of life, such as the treatment of chronic illness in young and middle adulthood, reproductive medicine in middle and late adulthood, and the (re)negotiation of ageing in health care for older people. In addition to the University of Oldenburg, the Research Group involves researchers from the Humboldt University Berlin, the Goethe University Frankfurt with the Sigmund Freud Institute as well as the University Medical Centre Göttingen and the University of Göttingen are involved.

Together with the speaker Prof. Claudia Wiesemann, Prof. Mark Schweda is PI of the Research Group’s central and integrative project (ZIP). Furthermore, he is PI of the sub-project 7 "Between resignation and optimization – The time structure of the good life in the context of geriatric medicine”. The project examines the relationship between modern medicine and the temporal conditions of a good life with regard to ageing as a process and old age as a phase of life. The focus is on the question of the interrelation between geriatric medicine and care on the one hand and ideas of ageing well and of good life at old age on the other.

Contact: Lena Stange, M.Sc. (

Project Website:

Improvement of working conditions in outpatient care through innovative work concepts in the region (VAPiAR)

Project Coordination: Dr. Michael Bau, Institut Leistung Arbeit Gesundheit (ILAG)

Principal Investigator (Division of Ethics in Medicine): Prof. Dr. Mark Schweda

Project Members (Division of Ethics in Medicine): Meike Ahlers, M.A.

Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Funding Reference: 02L20B054

Duration: 2021–2024

The implementation of new technologies appears to be a promising perspective to ensure the provision of nursing care in view of population aging and increasing shortage of nursing staff. However, in addition to technological, ethical and social questions, especially the transfer of new technologies into practice constitutes a challenge. The aim of the VAPiAR project is to facilitate work processes in outpatient nursing care through the use of application-specific and needs-oriented technologies, while at the same time preserving the independence, self-determination and quality of life of those in need of care. To this end, technologies will be selected and further developed in a participatory process in the VAPiAR Living Lab to be designed in the project. The Living Lab will constitute an interdisciplinary platform in which technology-supported processes in outpatient care will be demonstrated, discussed and further developed. It not only offers a concrete experience of new technologies but also serves as a networking platform for various players in regional care. Within the VAPiAR project, the consideration of the ethical, legal and social aspects represents an important component. For example, questions of privacy, the influence on professional practice, and informational self-determination are addressed. The aim is to make the Living Lab permanent in the form of a competence center which will also create added value in the long term.

Contact: Meike Ahlers, M.A. ()

Project Website:

The Public (Re-)Negotiation of Intergenerational Solidarity and Responsibility in the Corona-Pandemic – Media Discourse Analysis and Ethical Evaluation (PRISMAE)

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Mark Schweda (Ethics in Medicine, University of Oldenburg) & Dr. Larissa Pfaller (Institute for Sociology, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg)

Project Members: Niklas Ellerich-Groppe, M.A. (Ethics in Medicine, University of Oldenburg), Irmgard Steckdaub-Muller (Institute for Sociology, FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg)

Funding: VolkswagenStiftung

Funding Reference: Az.: 99 340.

Duration: 2021–2022

In public and policy debates on the Corona-pandemic, ideas of solidarity and responsibility between the generations have emerged as central normative points of reference. Thus, they are frequently applied in the ongoing discussions on general measures for infection prevention, on the prioritization of intensive care, and on the access to and promotion of vaccination. However, the huge variety of – occasionally contradictory – conceptions of intergenerational solidarity and responsibility in these debates calls for scientific examination and clarification. Against this backdrop, the project aims to critically explore the moral and political significance as well as the ongoing public (re-)negotiation of intergenerational solidarity and responsibility in the context of COVID 19. Combining sociological analysis and ethical reflection of the German media discourse, we conduct a discourse analysis of the public media discourse and relevant political speeches from the German-speaking area. The results provide urgently needed clarification and orientation regarding crucial normative principles in the current crisis. They also offer a chance to address and discuss the fundamental moral constitution of intergenerational relations in contemporary aging societies.

The results of the project are distributed to the general public via a project-podcast. In this way, the project takes first steps towards the deliberative negotiation of a new intergenerational contract.

Contact: Niklas Ellerich-Groppe, M.A. ()

Project Website:

Relevant Dimensions and Aspects of Stereotyping in Human-Robot Interaction in Eldercare (DiAStereo)

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Mark Schweda (Division of Ethics in Medicine, University of Oldenburg), Prof. Dr. Frauke Koppelin (Section Technology and Health, Jade University of Applied Sciences Oldenburg/Wilhelmshaven/Elsfleth), Dr. Merle Weßel (Division of Ethics in Medicine, University of Oldenburg)

Project Members (Division of Ethics in Medicine): Niklas Ellerich-Groppe, M.A.

Funding: Own funds/Research Funds of the Jade University of Applied Sciences Oldenburg/Wilhelmshaven/Elsfleth

Duration: 2021–2022

In the face of demographic ageing, the change of traditional familial care arrangements, and the ongoing shortage of skilled care workers, assistive robotics is becoming increasingly important in the sensitive field of eldercare. It is known from social psychological research that social categories like age or gender play a similar role in human-robot interaction as they do in human interaction. There are even considerations to use stereotypical attributions strategically to increase technology acceptance and well-being among users. However, such strategies are morally ambivalent: There is a risk of disregarding the autonomy and needs of those being cared for and of reproducing social prejudices. In the end, this can lead to (intersectional) discrimination or even manipulation of users. Against this backdrop, the project focuses on the relevant stakeholder perspectives: It explores how professional stakeholders in technology development and industry as well as in nursing science and care perceive and evaluate the implementation of gender and age stereotypes in care robotics and the corresponding moral problems. Thus, we examine to what extent the wishes and needs of future users are taken into account in the development and implementation of care robots.

Contact: Niklas Ellerich-Groppe, M.A. ()

Project Website: [GER]

Sociocultural Diversity and Discrimination in Medicine from an Intersectional Perspective (SoDiMe)

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Mark Schweda (Ethics in Medicine, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg) & Dr. Merle Weßel (Ethics in Medicine, Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg)

Project Members (Division for Ethics in Medicine): Simon Gerhards

Funding: Own funds

Duration: since 2021

Socio-cultural diversity and discrimination are increasingly perceived and discussed in all areas of German society. Especially racism is currently attracting increased attention. However, while racism in the context of medicine and healthcare is increasingly scrutinized in international research, there is an acute need for in-depth knowledge about racism in medical research, education and practice for the context of the German health care system. The perspective of medical students is of particular importance since they get an insight in all the different fields of medicine (research, education, practice) and will effectively shape future healthcare.

Together with Prof. Dr. Silke Schicktanz from the University Medical Center Göttingen, the project investigates the perspectives of medical students on diversity and discrimination in general and on racism in medicine in particular. The leading research question is how racism is perceived and dealt with in medical education and practice. The aim is to formulate recommendations for the implementation of anti-discriminatory curricula and courses. To this end, we combine ethical analysis with qualitative social research (online focus groups with medical students at different German universities). The analysis of the perspectives of medical students offers insights into their perceptions, understandings, and moral evaluations of these social phenomena. Furthermore, the experiences of medical students can be used to shed light on the characteristics of racism in health care and medical education. Based on empirically informed ethical analyses the project aims to derive recommendations for anti-discriminatory medical education.

Contact: Dr. Merle Weßel ()

Project Website: [GER]

Ethical and Social Issues of Co-intelligent Monitoring and Assistive Technologies in Dementia Care (EIDEC)

Principal Investigators: Prof. Dr. Silke Schicktanz (Georg-August-University Göttingen), Prof. Dr. Mark Schweda and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Andreas Hein (Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg), Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Kirste (University Rostock), Prof. Dr. Stefan Teipel (German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases e.V. (DZNE) of the Helmholtz Association, Rostock)

Project Members (Division of Ethics in Medicine): Eike Buhr, M.Ed.

Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Funding Reference: 01GP1901B

Duration: 2020–2022

Due to demographic ageing and technological innovations, dementia care is facing fundamental changes. New tracking, sensor, and assistance technologies make it possible to monitor and support the behaviour of people with dementia. The goal is to allow independent living, detect problems early on, relieve caregivers and increase the overall quality and cost-effectiveness of care. These socio-technical systems integrate artificial intelligence, semantics, and human interpretations.

Our research team investigates ethical, social and technological aspects of such co-intelligent systems in dementia care in institutional and home care settings. Combining technology assessment and empirically informed ethics, we explore social acceptance and moral evaluations among different groups (patients, family members, professional caregivers and physicians) by using qualitative interviews. The ethical analysis focuses on two important ethical concepts: privacy and empowerment. The sub-projects based at the University of Oldenburg focus on the outpatient setting and the perspectives of patients and family members. In particular, they address ethical questions of privacy in technology-assisted care for people with dementia. The project results will feed into public reports, scientific articles, and demonstration videos. They are intended to inform developers of such systems, researchers in ethics, social sciences, and law, representatives of patient associations and policy makers about how ethical and social perspectives and concerns of potential users and other stakeholders should be taken into account in the development and the use of the technologies in dementia care.

Contact: Eike Buhr, M.Ed. ()

Project Website:

Triade_online – Eastern European live-in carers in home care arrangements for people with dementia: Problems and moral conflicts in the triad person with dementia – live-in carer – family carer

Principal Investigators: Dr. Milena von Kutzleben (Organizational Health Services Research, University of Oldenburg), Dr. Merle Weßel (Ethics in Medicine, University of Oldenburg), Prof. Dr. Mark Schweda (Ethics in Medicine, University of Oldenburg), Prof. Dr. Lena Ansmann (Organizational Health Services Research, University of Oldenburg)

Funding: Own Funds

Duration: since 2020

In Germany, the majority of people with dementia still lives in private households. In order to cover the extensive care requirements for dementia, many families fall back on so-called live-in carers, mostly from Eastern European countries. Families who choose this kind of home care are usually on their own to organise the care arrangements. Online forums and groups in social networks are two of the few possibilities to talk to other affected persons about the topic of live-in care. The joint project of the Divisions of Organizational Health Services Research and Ethics in Medicine takes a closer look at the perspectives and argumentation patterns of families who are responsible for the home care of a person with dementia and have employed a live-in carer or are considering this option. Combining health service research and ethical approaches, we examine topics, areas of problems, and moral conflicts in care arrangements for people with dementia involving a live-in carer, based on the statements of relatives.

Contact: Dr. Merle Weßel ()

Project Website:

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