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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Finished Projects

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: 2020–2023

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: [GER]

The Public (Re-)Negotiation of Intergenerational Solidarity and Responsibility in the Corona-Pandemic – Media Discourse Analysis and Ethical Evaluation (PRISMAE) (2021-2023)

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

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

Funding: VolkswagenStiftung

Funding Reference: Az.: 99 340.

Duration: 2021–2023

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) (2021-2022)

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]

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 (2020-2022)

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: 2020-2022

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:

Intersectional and ethical perspectives on ageing and body weight in health care (2021)

Principal Investigators: Dr. Merle Weßel (Ethics in Medicine, University of Oldenburg) & Dr. Solveig Lena Hansen (Public Health Ethics, University Bremen)

Funding: Impuls-Research Funding of the Association of Northern German Universities

Funding Reference: 210507 VNU51

Duration: August–December 2021

In the context of an increasing life expectancy and demographic ageing, the body weight of older people will become an important topic in the areas of medicine and public health. At the same time, body weight constitutes a relevant factor when developing preventative measures against obesity and conducting bariatric surgery. The prevention paradigm and the demand for “successful”, “active” and “healthy” ageing requires the re-negotiation of norms and understandings of bodies and ageing. The project studies the connection between old age and obesity from an empirical-ethical perspective. (a) From an empirical perspective, we explore in what areas of the health care system discrimination occur due to old age and body weight and which salutogenic resources of the affected people are relevant. (b) From an ethical perspective, we explore to what extent old obese people face discrimination in relation to access to treatment and preventive measures, and we ask from a perspective of (social) justice what fair access to salutogenic resources requires.

Contact: Dr. Merle Weßel ()

Project Website:

The Moral Significance of Human Vulnerability (2018-2020)

Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Michael Coors

Project members (Division of Ethics in Medicine): Prof. Dr. Mark Schweda

Duration: 2018-2020

The project asks for the moral significance of human vulnerability fundamentally: What oblige phenomena of vulnerability like e.g. suffering, pain, and illness to in a moral perspective? How can they be integrated in moral perceptions of good life? How can they be interpreted and evaluated theologically? These questions need to be discussed with regards to the established international debate on the term "vulnerability" and a anthropological as well as theological clarification of the human vulnerability.

The design of the research-project is made up of five workshops in which the above mentioned questions are discussed. Additional to the research-group-members, external speakers and referents join the discussions. The findings of the project will be present during a concluding congress in 2020 and published as a book.

Contact: Prof. Dr. Mark Schweda ()

Successful = healthy = good aging? (2017-2019)

Principal Investigators: Dr. Larissa Pfaller (Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nürnberg) & Prof. Dr. Mark Schweda (Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg)

Funding: Bundesministerium für Gesundheit (BMG)

Funding Reference: ZMV I 1 – 2516 FSB 017

Duration: 2017-2019

The gerontological concept of successful aging marks a central paradigm of human and social science research on aging. At the same time, it has found its way into social policy programs and thus also determines political objectives in aging societies. In this context, "successful aging" is not only to be understood as a theoretical category for describing a changing age phase. The concept expresses the overcoming of long-prevailing deficit models of old age in favor of a perspective on later life that is oriented toward resources and potential. The project focuses on the question of the normative content of concepts of "successful aging" and its ethical evaluation. Following an approach of empirically informed ethics, we combine methods of qualitative social research and systematic ethical reflection. In the sociological subproject, the current concepts of "successful aging" underlying gerontological, preventive medical and socio-political discourses are reconstructed on the basis of empirical research. In the ethical subproject, the reconstructed concepts will be analyzed with regard to their normative premises and reflected in the light of the ethical question of the conditions for a good life. The overall goal is an empirically informed and ethically reflected systematics of concepts of "good aging" in the horizon of medicine and health care. By linking the subprojects, both scientifically and socio-politically relevant results are expected.

Further information can be found here [GER].

On handling high-throughput genomic data (GenoPerspektiv) (2014-2017)

Further information can be found here [GER].

Biomedical life plans for aging (2010-2014)

The aim of the interdisciplinary joint project is to better understand the significance of the growing possibilities of biomedicine for life plans with regard to aging and dying. With the help of sociological and bioethical methods, two guiding practices will be examined exemplarily: preventive health care/anti-aging and the anticipation of end-of-life decisions/ living wills.

Further information can be found here [GER].

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