Innovation in Social & Health Services

Our research should enrich the scientific discourse as well as provide evidence-based and action-oriented decision bases for policy and society. The focus is on cross-method research in the fields of public health, social integration and participation as well as behavioural research, digital technologies and communication.


Social Dynamics & Social Policy

Whether quantitative or qualitative, problem- or solution-oriented, theoretical or empirical approaches, the focus is on relational and processual dynamics in the social, economic and political spheres and the identification of potentials and conditions for enabling socially sustainable and future-oriented development of society. Central themes are changes in the welfare state or social system and in this sense the social participation of different (disadvantaged) groups of people, integration into the labor market, migration, individual life courses and also changes in the living and social space.

(Public) Health & Behavioural Sciences

The health improvement of the population is an essential part of the Austrian health objectives. The aim is to strengthen the health competence of all age groups, to enable healthy growth and to create health-promoting living and working conditions with the aim of increasing the number of healthy years of life in the long term. Above all, research into behavioural patterns in an economic context and decisive influencing factors such as socio-economic status are the focus of attention.

Digital Media, Health & Society

Digital media create new information environments and new opportunities for health and society. They create new spaces for learning, promote social exchange and stimulate participation processes. At the same time, they can increase the dissemination of misinformation, social inequality and political polarisation. In order to promote the positive potential of social media, it is important to understand how citizens use social media and what effects the use of these technologies have on the individual and on the social and political system.

Social Work Practice, Social Change & Human Rights

This research examines fields of action (including virtual social space), methods and theories (basic research), participation – digital media, innovative research methods, analysis of social space, shaping society – social planning, as well as evaluation – organizational analysis, practice research and participatory research.

Siegfried Walch
Prof. Dr. Siegfried Walch Head of Department & Studies

If you have any questions regarding this research area, please contact us:
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Siegfried Walch
Prof. Dr. Siegfried Walch Head of Department & Studies
Markus Frischhut
FH-Prof. Dr. Markus Frischhut, LL.M. Professor & Study Coordinator European Union Law +43 512 2070 - 3632
Lorena Holzmann
Lorena Holzmann, BA MA Teaching & Research Assistant +43 512 2070 - 7422
Nils Mevenkamp
FH-Prof. Dr. Nils Mevenkamp Professor +43 512 2070 - 3732
Sara Repo
Sara Repo, MA Bakk. Komm. Leave of absence +43 512 2070 - 3728
Philipp Weinkogl
Philipp Weinkogl, BA MA Teaching & Research Assistant +43 512 2070 - 3624
Simon Czermak
FH-Prof. Dr. Simon Czermak Senior Lecturer +43 512 2070 - 3635
Belachew Gebrewold
FH-Prof. PD Dr. habil. Belachew Gebrewold Head of Department & Studies
Lukas Kerschbaumer
Lukas Kerschbaumer, BA MA Teaching & Research Assistant +43 512 2070 - 7421
Regina Obexer
Mag. Regina Obexer, Master of Education Senior Lecturer +43 512 2070 - 2031
Peter Schwazer
Dr. Peter Schwazer Lecturer +43 512 2070 - 3134
Renate Windbichler
Mag. Renate Windbichler, MIM Teaching & Research Assistant +43 512 2070 - 3724
Eva Fleischer
FH-Prof. Mag. Dr. Eva Fleischer Professor +43 512 2070 - 3435
Raffael Heiss
Dr. Raffael Heiss, MA Lecturer +43 512 2070 - 7432
Katharina Lang
Mag. (FH) Katharina Lang, MA Leave of absence +43 512 2070 - 3423
Bastian Oechsle
Bastian Oechsle, BA, MA Teaching & Research Assistant +43 512 2070 - 3424
Angelika Svoboda
Angelika Svoboda, BA, MA Teaching & Research Assistant +43 512 2070 - 3422
Claudia Zoller
Dr. Claudia Zoller Lecturer +43 512 2070 - 7431
Ayman Fouda
Ayman Fouda, M.B.B.Ch Teaching & Research Assistant +43 512 2070 - 3723
Stefanie Herades
MMag. Dr. Stefanie Herades, M.St. Lecturer +43 512 2070 - 3135
Barbara Lill-Rastern
FH-Prof. Mag. Dr. Barbara Lill-Rastern Senior Lecturer +43 512 2070 - 3436
Andrea Trenkwalder-Egger
FH-Prof. DSA Dr. Andrea Trenkwalder-Egger Professor +43 512 2070 - 3434

Social space-oriented and inclusive participation of people with disabilities in the border region
2020 - 2021

Project Lead:
FH-Prof. Dr. Siegfried Walch

Philipp Weinkogl, BA MA

Ajla Nesimovic, BSc

DSA David Sporschill, MA

Sascha Gell, BA, MA

For people with disabilities, needs-based care as well as the right to choose the service provider freely are generally more difficult to realise in rural areas than in urban contexts. Although the same language is spoken in Germany and Austria and people now live quite naturally in one country, work, shop or go to hospital in the other, people with disabilities mainly take part in participation services in their respective home countries. This is due not only to a lack of cross-border services but also to a lack of knowledge of the service structures and the ways to access the neighbouring country services. Additionally, there is also a lack of knowledge about personal rights. This project captures existing offers and services in the social space. By conducting 5 focus groups (2x affected persons, relatives, institutions, politics) and interviews, knowledge about the perception of participation services in the social space, hindering factors and perspectives as well as unmet needs, is generated. Additional knowledge is generated through a moderated large group event where affected persons and experts participate. First findings can be multiplied here. A legal opinion will be created at the same time, which will highlight legal and administrative barriers and opportunities for cross-border service participation. The findings from the focus groups and the large group event will be included. Recommendations for actions for further offers for the social space of the border region will be derived from the gained knowledge. These recommendations will be made available to those affected, to specialists and to social policy makers. This will be done via a brochure (professional public and social policy) as well as by means of an online platform. There the results will be presented in an understandable way, services and offers in the social space will be presented and further information will be provided.

FoodExplorer: A Citizen Science Project for the enhancement of the food supply in the school environment
2020 - 2021

Sascha Gell, BA, MA

In the Citizen Science (CS) project FoodExplorer, adolescents explore the food supply in their school environment. For the first time, they thereby create a comprehensive inventory of the food supply in and around Tyrolean schools. Apart from the CS data, we also conduct a multi-wave survey at the partner schools. By combining the CS data with the survey data, we create new knowledge about the influence of the food supply on the nutritional behaviour as well as on the wellbeing of the students. Also, the potential of CS in social sciences remains untapped to date. Thus, from a methodological point of view, this project generates new findings about the application of CS in social sciences and thereby plays a pioneering role here. This is done by providing new experiences on the feasibility of using CS in social sciences and evaluating the potential in terms of scientific innovation and individual learning effects.

Health Literacy in Childhood
2019 - 2022

Lorena Holzmann, BA MA

FH-Prof. Mag. Dr. Barbara Lill-Rastern

Dr. Claudia Zoller

Dr. Raffael Heiss, MA

Lukas Kerschbaumer, BA MA

Sascha Gell, BA, MA

Data on the health literacy of Austrians are currently availably primarily for adults and adolescents aged 13 and older. These data refer to the findings of the HLS-EU study which was conducted throughout Europe. The results of the Europe-wide HLS-EU study (2012) among adults as well as adolescents were below-average in Austria. On this basis the project management has intensively dealt with the topic of health literacy within the scope of a master thesis in 2017. For the first time in Austria, data on the level of health literacy of almost 600 children in the 4th primary school level were collected. This data were collected in two comparative provinces (Tyrol and Styria). There are many reasons why it is important to address the topic of health literacy to children. On the one hand this is because it is difficult to change behavioural patterns that were imprinted in childhood at a later stage. Therefore, it is essential to start with the topic of health literacy early. On the other hand, the implications of a population with low health literacy on the health status of the population, on the health care system and on the health care expenditure can be manifold. The results of the study conducted as part of the master's thesis show that almost half of the children in the sample have excellent health literacy. The difference between these results and those of the HLS-EU study (for adolescents as well as adults) was the basis for developing the research question what level of health literacy children between the ages of 9 and 13 have. This age range is exactly where the turning point of the health literacy level lies according to the previous studies (HLS-EU, master's thesis). Determining this turning point can make a significant contribution to the implementation of targeted measures that are designed to suit the age group and ultimately strengthen their health literacy.

Program Evaluation 'Hallmark Healthy School Tyrol'
2019 - 2021

Project Lead:
Dr. Raffael Heiss, MA

Lukas Kerschbaumer, BA MA

Sascha Gell, BA, MA

Lorena Holzmann, BA MA

Dr. Claudia Zoller

The hallmark Healthy School Tyrol Program is dedicated to a holistic conception of health and intends to change individual behavior in favor of a healthier lifestyle. To achieve this overarching goal early sensitization of the health topic is promoted in children and teenagers, as well as, in decision makers within the school context (e.g. teachers). Establishing health-promoting structures and processes should strengthen the individual self-efficacy (empowerment) and the psychosocial and physical well-being of students. Objectives of the evaluation are to assess 1) the implementation of the hallmark criteria, 2) the supervision during the conception and implementation and 3) the impact of the program on students. To grasp the impact of the hallmark in its full extend a mixed-method approach is utilized including qualitative and quantitative approaches. The qualitative part includes a document analysis and group discussions to identify restricting and/or activation factors for the implementation of the "Hallmark Healthy School Tyrol". Examining the influence of the hallmark on the course of development in children and teenagers is the main concern of the quantitative part and achieved via a three-part panel analysis.

  • Kerschbaumer, Lukas (2020): Mehr als nur objektive individuelle Attribute: Arbeitsmarktrelevante Hemmnisse bei Langzeitarbeitslosigkeit. Sozialer Fortschritt 69 (2020), Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, S. 21-44.
  • Matthias Sutter, Claudia Zoller, Daniela Glätzle-Rützler (2019). Economic behavior of children and adolescents – A first survey of experimental economics results, European Economic Review, 111, 98-121.
  • Heiss, R., & Matthes, J. (2017). Citizen science in the social sciences: a call for more evidence. GAIA-Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society, 26(1), 22-26.

  • "Priming healthy food choices in early childhood”, University of Copenhagen, Workshop on Behavioral Insights for Healthy Ageing
  • Hirseland, Andreas; Kerschbaumer, Lukas (2019): Agency and Networks – What is it that Long-term Unemployed Need and What is it that Employers Want? 14th Conference of the European Sociological Association - Employment Relations and Labour Market Network Perspectives
  • Heiss, R., & Rudolph, L. (2019, September). Health Influencer auf Social Media: Motivationen und Konsequenzen des 'Folgens' krebserkrankter Instagram Bloggerinnen. Angenommener Vortrag auf der 5. Konferenz der Österreichischen Plattform Gesundheitskompetenz (ÖPGK), 19. September, St. Pölten, Österreich.