[Axel Ström--pioneer of social medicine and administrator].Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2002 Jan 10; 122(1):62-3.TN
Dr Axel Strøm (1901-85), professor in the University of Oslo from 1940 to 1970, was a leader in Norwegian medicine in the latter half of the 20th century. He qualified in 1926 and in 1936 gained a doctorate with a dissertation on the toxin production of the Corynebacterium diphtheriae. His first appointment as a professor was in hygiene. In 1951 he moved on to public health, a field that he pioneered in Norway and the other Scandinavian countries. As a professor during the German occupation of Norway in the Second World War, he joined the university's resistance against the Nazi authorities' attempts at taking control. When the war was over he became deeply involved in research on the impact of war on health. At a time when the study of the impact of lifestyle factors was still in its infancy, he suggested that the war-induced reduction in dietary fat consumption might be the cause of observed lower cardiovascular mortality. Of more practical importance were the studies he initiated of the mainly psychological late-onset effects of traumas suffered by prisoners in German camps, seamen, soldiers and other exposed groups. In this area, too, he was an early explorer, of what has come to be known as post-traumatic stress disorder. His efforts led to improved war pension entitlements for the victims. Over the years, exposed groups became his major professional interest as a public health specialist. In his academic work, dr Strøm also pioneered medical ethics, care for the elderly, legislation on abortion, and the rapidly expanding field of the medical basis for social security benefits. As a practising physician he was in the vanguard of occupational medicine and other kinds of preventive medicine. What brought him most recognition was, however, his leading role over many years in the Norwegian Medical Association and in the University of Oslo. He served as chairman of the Junior Hospital Doctors Association, president of the Norwegian Medical Association and chairman of the Federation of Norwegian Professional Associations. He was elected dean of the Faculty of Medicine and vice-rector of the University of Oslo, in addition to a host of other expert assignments and official roles: He was renowned for his hard work and exerted great influence in many quarters.