Gender identity, adolescent development and mental health in adolescence
The aim of this project is to explore the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between gender identity, adolescent development and mental health during middle adolescence when identity development is the most active phase. The project uses both population based, clinical and register data, and produces both scientific knowledge and educational materials for professionals working with adolescents, for families and for adolescents themselves. I have several PhD students in this project, and the research is closely intertwined with my clinical work in the gender identity service for minors in Tampere University Hospital. This is currently the field where I am most networking internationally, participating a number of health policy initiatives and service development projects. Extending my research beyond gender identity, the project further includes research on sexual development and mental health in adolescence.
Aggressive behaviour, violence and mental health in adolescence
The aim of this research is to study the role of mental disorders in the development of aggression problems and violent behavior during adolescent development, and to produce knowledge about violence risk and aggression management among adolescents with mental disorders. In normal population data I research the associations between bullying behaviors and mental health. In clinical data the project focuses on violence risk assessment in youth and aggression management in adolescent inpatient settings. My team is also about to start analyzing long-term register follow-up data on adolescent forensic patients. I collaborate with an international network of researchers and clinicians in adolescent forensic psychiatry and am involved with research projects of PhD students of other Finnish senior researchers in this field. Three academic dissertations have been published in this project. Johanna Berg’s dissertation (University of Turku) in 2012 compared treatment in adolescent forensic units and staff’s views of adolescent aggression and its management in adolescent forensic units in four countries. Monica Gammelgård’s dissertation (University of Tampere) in 2015 focused on violence risk assessment and violence risk and psychopathology in adolescents in secondary and tertiary level services. Svetlana Oshukova’s dissertation in 2017 (University of Helsinki) discussed psychopathic traits and their associations with psychopathology in community, adolescent psychiatric and forensic samples of youth.
Adolescent mental health epidemiology
Risk and protective factors of adolescent mental health problems are studied in Finnish adolescent health survey data. The project is led by professor Riittakerttu Kaltiala, professor Mauri Marttunen (University of Helsinki) and adjunct professor Sari Fröjd (University of Tampere, Faculty of Social Sciences). A number of doctoral and undergraduate diploma students participate in the project.
The Adolescent Mental Health Cohort and Replication Study is a survey that comprises a follow-up study among the baseline survey carried out at 2002-3, and replication studies of the baseline survey in 2912-13 and 2018-19. The survey focuses on epidemiology and risk and protective factors of depression, anxiety, conduct disorder, eating disorders and substance use among adolescents in the normal population.
Another data used in this branch of research is School Health Promotion Survey data (https://www.thl.fi/fi/tutkimus-ja-asiantuntijatyo/vaestotutkimukset/kouluterveyskysely). The researchers have used SHPS data from various data collection years, and are currently also working on time trend data formed in the repeated surveys.
Adolescent psychiatric health services research
A series of studies exploring need for treatment, access to services, treatment received, and use of coercion in adolescent psychiatric health services. The project uses both national and regional register data, as well as both quantitative and qualitative approaches. The research is actively involved in improving the adolescent psychiatric services provided by Tampere University Hospital. In addition to personally writing about these topics, I am supervising a number of diploma projects and a PhD study on health services research. Most recently, I am involved in a Swedish-Finnish research project on involuntary treatment and coercion in child and adolescent psychiatry, led by professor Niklas Långström in the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.