Research on Societal Participation and Health Services Research

The research area is characterized by interdisciplinary research in the fields of social services, technology, health, law and the economy. Particular research priorities are health services (structures, processes and outcomes), as well as technological and social solutions for supporting opportunities for vulnerable persons and organizations to participate in society.


The following are actively engaged in the research area:

  • Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology
  • Faculty of Public Health Services
  • Faculty of Trade and Social Work
  • Faculty of Computer Science/IT
  • Faculty of Supply Engineering
  • Faculty of Transport-Sports-Tourism-Media





Research Projects

Please use the project query system and select the respective research area from the drop-down menu.



Researchers give an insight into their work

In interviews, the researchers present the research area and one of their research projects.

  Research on Societal Participation and Health Services Research - Prof. Müller and Prof. Schiering

Technical and social solutions come together - Prof. Hasseler, Prof. Müller and Prof. Schiering about the research area

They come from different areas but nevertheless have much in common: the professors Sandra Verena Müller (faculty of Social Work), Ina Schiering (Computer Science) and Martina Hasseler (Public Health Services). In the interview the three are talking about what unites them, what the goal of the research area Research on Societal Participation and Health Services Research is - and why their research is so important, especially right now.


Public Health Services, Social Work, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering –  in the research area Research on Societal Participation and Health Services Research, these four Ostfalia faculties are working hand in hand. Why remove the borders between these subjects?

Martina Hasseler: Because that's the only way to arrive at new ideas. We are working on technical and social solutions in order to improve services in the healthcare system and the participation of "vulnerable" people, as we say in scientific fields. We'll manage this only if we are surrounded by researchers who think differently to us.

Ina Schiering: We are part of a generational change. The university fulfils a different role today than it did just a few years ago. Many social problems can only be dealt with if we remove any blinkers and work in an interdisciplinary manner.


Many technicians and engineers, computer scientists and electrical engineers are working under your "research roof". What are the reasons for this?

Ina Schiering: Progressive digitization and the triumph of the smartphone. The technical applications offer us a lot of potential in the area of Research on Societal Participation and Health Services Research. To give one simple example: Using smartwatches, we can help people with executive function disorders, i.e. with task and activity planning, not to lose sight of their day-to-day goals. This is achieved by the watch telling them to do their shopping or to take the next bus.


What connects you three and your research colleagues?

Sandra Verena Müller: Our common objective. We want more people to participate in society: by autonomously organising their everyday life, holding down a job, or taking part in cultural life. Our target groups are very diverse, e.g. stroke, tumour and traumatic brain-injury patients, and people with intellectual disabilities.


Tell us about one of your projects.

Sandra Verena Müller: We have developed – for the first time in Germany – a method for the early detection and diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease for people with intellectual disabilities. Knowledge of dementia or of a suspected case enables the sufferer and their families, as well as the employees of the institutions in which they live, to adapt to the situation and therefore get appropriate treatment for the person affected.


You are researching with people, for people. What does this mean for your work?

Ina Schiering: As a computer scientist, IT security and data protection are my speciality. In Germany, individuals have the fundamental right to determine for themselves what information about them is used, and how. This means that people decide for themselves what happens to their personal data. Because we work with sensitive information that cannot be disclosed externally, it is my responsibility to strengthen people's rights – for example, by working with data sparingly, or by anonymising or pseudo-anonymising data.

Sandra Verena Müller: The Senate Commission on Research Ethics, which I chair, inspects all research requests to check whether they correspond to the ethical criteria: whether the participants in the study are properly informed of their rights, what data is collected and how it is subsequently processed. If the application does not meet the criteria, we subject it to additional requirements.

Martina Hasseler: We work with people who are particularly vulnerable due to their physical and mental condition. This makes it all the more important that we plan the research in a well thought-out manner.


Why is your research currently so important?

Martina Hasseler: More and more people in the area of healthcare and nursing are experiencing poor levels of quality. Why? A shortage of skilled workers. The fact that the shortage in the long-term care sector is not just a concept, but in fact a reality, can only be determined by our studies. We conduct applied research and want our projects to contribute to better healthcare.


Is your research changing society?

Martina Hasseler: We take societal trends into account in order to change society, in an ideal scenario.

Sandra Verena Müller: We anticipate changes and respond to them. We are faced with many challenges – from demographic change to migration. We are dealing now with how we want to live in twenty years' time. 


Why is Ostfalia a good place for research?

Sandra Verena Müller: Because Ostfalia is very research friendly...

Martina Hasseler: … and my university brings me together with colleagues from other faculties.

Ina Schiering: Interdisciplinarity is the key to our success.


Last, but not least: Could you say in one sentence what it is about your work that makes it fun?

Sandra Verena Müller: Because every day I tackle important social issues and gain knowledge that benefits people.

Ina Schiering: Because I can help people exercise their right to informational self-determination – and because, in a university environment, I get to work with many young and interesting people.

Martina Hasseler: My motivation is to expand on knowledge in my area of expertise, and at the same time improve healthcare.



Prof. Dagmar Meyer and research assistant Kai Kriegel with the robot assistant

Prof. Dagmar Meyer in dialogue about a robot assistant for care

In Germany, the number of people in need of care has risen sharply in recent years. In order to guarantee adequate care, technical aids will be required in the future. The project “PersonA-PP” (Personal assistance for patients in care) provides a new approach in dealing with this situation. It is managed by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dagmar Meyer, professor at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering.

The goal of the project is to develop a robot assistant for patients in care. The mobile robot is supposed to be available for one or more people in a care environment, for example a nursing home or assisted living. Using an intelligent bracelet with simple voice commands or gestures, the robot can be instructed to perform certain services such as picking up objects that have been dropped accidentally or setting the table.

A particularly innovative approach is being adopted by using a so-called collaborative lightweight robot (“cobot”). These cobots are originally designed for industrial use and make it possible to develop a system that is also attractive from an economic point of view.

The close cooperation with a diaconal organisation that operates with numerous residential and care facilities ensures a needs-based and practical approach.

The project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (German Title “PersonA-PP – Persönliche Assistenz für Patienten in der Pflege”).

As part of Ostfalia’s German research podcast, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dagmar Meyer and Tina Böse, student assistant at the Knowledge and Technology Transfer, talked about the project “PersonA-PP“, giving an insight into possible fields of application and the cooperation with future users of the robot assistant.


The podcast can be found  here  (in German language).


Project Management:

  • Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dagmar Meyer, Faculty of Electrical Engineering


Project Duration: 

  • 01.09.2018 - 31.08.2021


Federal States Funding:

  • Europäischer Fonds für regionale Entwicklung (EFRE)


The full project description can be found  here.


EU_EFRE_regionale Entwicklung


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