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Social Sciences

Multilevel governance and decentralization of medicine budgets - Striving for quality and sustainability (MultiMed)

This project, conducted at the University of Turku in collaboration with Uppsala university, aims to understand how governance mechanisms are connected with variation in costs for medicines, equality and quality of prescribing. The project produces novel policy relevant evidence through comparison of Swedish regions. Sweden has decentralized medicine budgets and management, and regions have developed various strategies to promote sustainable use of medicines. The project 1) evaluates the validity of prescribing quality indicators and their applicability in the Nordic healthcare context using systematic review and Delphi method, 2) examines and compares regional variation in prescribing quality, costs and equity in medicine use across regions in Sweden and Finland using register data, 3) explores governance models across Swedish regions using interviews and considers the connection between governance models and variation in medicine use using comparative qualitative analysis (QCA).

PI: Katri Aaltonen

Funding: Research Council of Finland

>> Project information shared with the Open Science Framework 

>> Data protection privacy notice (in Finnish)

Children First – Nordic policies and children´s well-being

Children First, a multidisciplinary project, produces new scientific knowledge on the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on children´s wellbeing and identifies policy options to enhance children´s wellbeing and resilience in Nordic countries.

University of Turku coordinates this three-year project (2023-2026) and it is carried out by a consortium of five universities (University of Turku, University Iceland, Stockholm University, Uppsala University and Åbo Akademi University). The project is funded by NordForsk.

Consortium PI Professor Mia Hakovirta

>> Read more about Children First

Mapineq – Mapping inequalities through the life course

Mapineq – Mapping inequalities through the life course – is a 3-year research project (2022–2025). The project studies the trends and drivers of intergenerational, educational, labour market and health inequalities over the life course during the last decades, and distinguishes between local, regional, national and supranational levels.

Mapineq is a collaborative effort to respond to the imperative challenge of the European Union for identifying and tackling the main drivers of inequality trends.

The research is carried out by a consortium of eight partners across Europe and the United Kingdom. Mapineq brings together prominent researchers in inequalities of opportunities and outcomes in Europe to address these issues in a unique manner.

>> Read more about Mapineq

Project coordinator: Jani Erola
Funding: European Union’s Horizon Europe Research and Innovation programme

Moving Matters: the influence of family migration on inter-generational inequality (Moving Matters)

In Europe, roughly half of the population believes that migrating to a new region or country is a good thing for individuals, but only a third believe that it is good for families (Special Eurobarometer 337, 2009). Despite how common moving is, relatively little is known about how parents’ reasons for moving influence their children’s opportunities in later life. Does moving for better employment outweigh the disruption to their children’s social environment? Does having to relocate explain the link between union dissolution and children’s educational achievement? What resources do parents use to secure the success of their children after a move, and which are most effective? Using versatile data from various sources “Moving Matters” examines if the children of parents who move (especially those who move many times) are a particularly vulnerable subpopulation in the transmission of disadvantage from one generation to the next.

PI: Patricia McMullin
Funding: Research Council of Finland

Contexts of youths' inclusion: Understanding social participation, belonging and civic engagement in the growth environments of culturally diverse youth

The project aims to increase understanding of the ways in which linguistically, culturally and convictionally diverse young people build social inclusion and intergroup civic engagement in their schools, local communities and wider society. As part of inclusion, there are also educational and employment pathways for young people, which the project explores, in particular, through their immigration background and related local factors. The project extensively combines human sciences and qualitative and quantitative methods. The quantitative part of the project will be implemented with population-wide register data, and several qualitative materials will be collected during the project: from young people, schools, and school management. The materials are analysed e.g. through multilevel and longitudinal analysis (quantitative data) and through theory-guided content analysis and discourse analysis (qualitative data).

The project aims to make young people’s voices heard and to disseminate good practice in supporting inclusion and civic engagement. Encouraging young people to take part in civic activities and supporting inclusion helps to create opportunities for participation and builds institutional trust. The project responds to many societal challenges, including regional segregation and social segregation, on the basis of which a future equal Finland will be built.

PI Elina Kilpi-Jakonen
Funding: Turku Urban Research Programme

Utilisation of population register data and genetic data in research on intergenerational welfare and health inequalities (INVEST Full Population Data)

>>Read more

PI: Pasi Moisio,  Research Professor, THL

Family Formation in Flux – Causes, Consequences, and Possible Futures (FLUX)

The multidisciplinary FLUX consortium seeks evidence-based solutions for influencing and adapting to changes in fertility dynamics that accelerate population ageing. The overarching goal is to improve the social and economic sustainability of Finnish society. FLUX focuses on the changing fertility and family dynamics in Finland and provides insights into (1) the underlying causes of the changes, (2) the effects these changes have on individuals and society, (3) the linkages of the dynamics with social and gender inequalities and psychosocial and economic well-being, and (4) how social and family policies at both the state and local government levels can tackle the challenges created by the low-fertility landscape. FLUX brings together leading researchers from demography and other key disciplines relevant to understanding the causes and consequences of changing fertility and family dynamics.

PI Marika Jalovaara
Funding: Strategic Reseach Council, Academy of Finland

Social networks, fertility and wellbeing in ageing populations: Building demographic resilience in Finland (NetResilience)

NetResilience investigates demographic change from the perspective of social networks. Close social ties affect the wellbeing of individuals, families, and communities, and supporting these networks should become a social policy priority. Our main aim is to identify network characteristics that strengthen population resilience, or the ability to adapt to external shocks. We study how population change affects social networks, and how changing networks, in turn, shape population change and wellbeing. For example, changes in size and structural features of social networks likely play a part in recent fertility declines in many wealthy societies. To study these changes, we apply complex network science methodology to real-life human networks using contemporary register and survey as well as historical Finnish data. Our practical goal is to support targeted, cost-effective regional solutions to family, youth and ageing services in regions facing either depopulation or population growth.

PI Antti Tanskanen
Funding: Strategic Reseach Council, Academy of Finland

Economic and social sustainability across time and space in an ageing society (SustAgeable)

Population ageing undermines the economic sustainability of the welfare state. Challenges of fiscal sustainability put current benefit schemes and public services at risk, raising concerns of impairing social sustainability. In SustAgeable consortium, we seek solutions to protect and promote well-being of the population while restoring the economic sustainability of the welfare state. We focus on 1) distribution of well-being and resources across geographical areas, generations and population groups, 2) cost-containment of public spending on social and health care services, 3) opportunities to increase employment through prolonging working careers and promoting immigrants’ integration, 4) management of caring responsibilities, and 5) local variations in ageing trends due to immigration and urbanisation. We produce evidence on how successfully policies mitigate the undesired effects of population ageing on public revenues and spending, polarization and well-being.

PI Maria Vaalavuo
Funding: Strategic Reseach Council, Academy of Finland

A comparative study on the economic wellbeing of shared care families

Shared care, an arrangement in which children of separated parents lives roughly equal amounts of time with each parent, has been increasing in many countries. The urgent question is whether or not the economic outcomes for children and parents are different when shared care is chosen over single parent care and whether these outcomes are similar across welfare states. This comparative project investigates how parents divide financial responsibility of children in shared care families in Finland, Germany, and the US, by using unique survey collected in each country. Second, we explore the economic well-being of mothers, fathers, and children in shared care families employing EU-SILC data. This project will open new ways of understanding family economics and resource sharing across households, and how institutional context influences the economic wellbeing of shared care families.

The closest collaborators of the project are from the University Wisconsin, Madison, U.S. (Professors Judith Bartfeld, Lawrence Berger, Dan Meyer and Dr. Quentin Riser) and professor Anja Steinbach, Department of Sociology, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany.

PI Mia Hakovirta
Funding Academy of Finland

Economic social work in families with children

The project explores how economic social work means can support families with children who have difficulties in financial management. The goal is to develop a course of action for family clients with children in social work who face challenges with financial management. Supporting family household management is aimed at strengthening everyday life management and, as a result, the capacity to take on other assistance on offer to address the problems of the life situation.

PI Mia Hakovirta
Funding: Ministry of Social Affairs and Health

Life course transitions and living arrangements: migrant and non-migrant populations in Russia, Estonia and Finland (LifeTraR)

LifeTraR is a collaborative initiative of three research groups from Russia, Estonia and Finland. We focus on the major life course transitions of natives and migrants, their living arrangements and the factors shaping their lives across respective country contexts. The investigation relies on high quality population data from registers, census and comparative surveys, and applies relevant statistical methods (regression analysis, event history analysis, sequence analysis). Application of life course perspective and studying migrant population from the same origin (Russia) in different policy settings at the destination – Finland and Estonia – expands current expertise in demographic structures and processes relevant to understanding migration. Evidence-based knowledge about demographic integration of largest migrant groups in Finland serves the interests of wider audience and stakeholders providing input for targeted policy solutions and balanced public debates.

LifeTraR Consortium: National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia (implementing units Institute of Demography, the Department of Demography and the Institute for Social Policy); Tallinn University, Tallinn, Estonia (implementing unit Estonian Institute for Population Studies); University of Turku, Turku, Finland (implementing units Department of Social Research and INVEST).

PI: Leen Rahnu
Funding of the Finnish research group: Academy of Finland (ERA-NET RUS Plus) 01.01.2021 – 31.12.2023

Perinatal health and transition to adulthood (PETALTO)

The project analyzes how health in perinatal period, i.e., the period from the 23rd gestational week until 7 days since childbirth, affects individual’s later life, in the transition from childhood to adulthood. Perinatal health is operationalized through measures of birth weight, gestational age, prenatal smoking, and selected medical diagnosis of risk factors in pregnancy.

The project analyzes the effects of perinatal health on the transition to adulthood holistically, in many different time points, and with multiple criteria such as: success at school, cognitive skills, transition to secondary and tertiary level education, transition to employment, family formation, and the risk of becoming excluded from education and labor markets. The analysis conducted in the project is based on linked population register data on complete birth cohorts from 1987 to 2007 in Finland.

The project includes researchers from the Department of Social Research, University of Turku, and from the Department of Political and Social Sciences, European University Institute.

PI: Jani Erola
Funding: Academy of Finland

Research team

Prof. Jani Erola
University of Turku

Prof. Juho Härkönen
European University Institute

Senior Researcher Matti Lindberg
University of Turku

Senior Researcher Laura Salonen
University of Turku

Research Associate Marco Cozzani
European University Institute

Doctoral Candidate Niko Eskelinen
University of Turku

Beyond the technology determinism of industry 4.0. identifying an inclusive future in the digital transformation

BEYOND 4.0 aims to help deliver an inclusive European future by examining the impact of the new technologies on the future of jobs, business models and welfare. BEYOND 4.0 addresses the general priorities of the H2020 Work Programme (2018-2020) “Europe in a changing world – Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies”.

>>Read More

PI: Olli Kangas

Rahoittaja: Horizon 2020

Equality in Society (EQUA)

The strategic research programme Equality in Society is focused on equality and on how equality can be promoted. The programme provides funding to research that seeks solutions to support the sustainable and equal renewal of basic public services and benefit schemes. The research consortia are expected to address the following questions:

  • What are the mechanisms of inequality in Finland today?
  • How can equality be promoted in connection with the renewal of basic public services and benefit schemes?
  • In what ways can the public sector best support innovative experimentation, learning by experimentation and institutional change so as to maintain a well-managed transition and successfully renew basic public services and benefit schemes?

>>Read More

PI: Olli Kangas
Funding: Strategic Reasearch Council

Comparative study of changing family relationships and child maintenance

The project explores how maintenance systems in different countries take into account changed family relationships and gender equality and evaluate child support systems from the perspective of children’s rights. Vignets collected from different countries as well as materials from Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) are used as material.

PI: Academy Research Fellow Mia Hakovirta
Funding: Academy of Finland

Financial burden of medical costs on households (DE-RE)

The project will explore in a new way the institutional features of pharmaceutical policy systems and the impact of policies. The project will produce new information on the differences between systems in different countries, as well as the extent to which systems have an independent impact on access to medicines, over demographic differences.

The project compares the substitution and coverage of drug reimbursement schemes and assesses the ways in which these have been affected by austerity measures. Complementing previous research, the project also examines the complementary effects of drug reimbursement and basic safeguard benefits.

The first part of the project explores how the economic recession and the resulting austerity measures contributed to the financial burden on household medicines in Finland. The comparative section examines the institutional features of the systems and, in different systems, the financial burden on households from pharmaceuticals in the European Union.

PI: Katri Aaltonen
Funding: Academy of Finland

Intergenerational relations: from single discipline paradigm towards interdisciplinarity (IntRel)

Previous social science studies have been unable to successfully explain why intergenerational family support is unequally distributed across generations. Combining theories and findings from different fields of study, Intergenerational relations: from single discipline paradigm towards interdisciplinarity (IntRel) project will provide an evolutionarily informed sociological model helping to explain the complex nature of intergenerational relations. The project will show whether and how evolutionary relevant factors still shape human behaviour in contemporary affluent societies and in which circumstances the societal development may override the effect of evolutionary rooted tendencies.

IntRel project is funded by the Academy of Finland in 2019–2023. The PIs of the project are Mirkka Danielsbacka and Antti O. Tanskanen. IntRel is carried out at the University of Turku and it is a part of the Academy of Finland’s flagship Invest.

Inequality, early adult life courses and economic outcomes at mid-life in comparative context (EQUALLIVES)

Life-Course Dynamics of Educational Tracking (LIFETRACK)

This project aims to answer the following question: how and why do different educational systems, and in particular their various modes of educational tracking and sorting, influence the formation and reproduction of social inequalities over the life course?

While previous comparative research has identified effects of tracking on educational inequality, this project goes beyond the state of the art by exploring the underlying mechanisms from a dynamic life-course perspective, and by considering long-term consequences of tracking for final educational attainment and labour market outcomes.

The project will focus on both inequality formation in general and inequality dynamics with respect to socioeconomic origin, gender and ethnicity in particular.

>>Read More

PI: Jani Erola

Towards well-informed decisions: Predicting long-term effects of policy reforms on life trajectories (PREDLIFE)

In today’s complex society, with intricate and multiple levels of policy making, it is often difficult to foresee how policy reforms and interventions could come to affect the lives of individuals and the future of their families. It is imperative that we reach a better understanding of the mechanisms that connect policy changes with individuals’ life trajectories.

The goal of the PREDLIFE project is to understand how complex and interdependent life paths unfold over time and how these trajectories are shaped by policy interventions and reforms. In the statistics subproject we will develop a statistical tool for modelling, predicting, and visualizing how policy interventions affect complex social processes.

>>Read more

PI: Senior Researcher Satu Helske
Funding: Academy of Finland 1.9.2020–30.8.2024.

Falling fertility and the inequalities involved (NEFER)

Falling Fertility and the Inequalities Involved (NEFER) focuses on fertility dynamics and their links to social inequalities, as manifested in the case of Finland and other Nordic countries, which are often seen as forerunners of family change and in developing social and gender equality. These countries are experiencing an unexpected decline in fertility, increases in childlessness, and fundamental shifts in socioeconomic disparities in family formation, challenging the established understanding of the drivers of fertility changes and the underlying mechanisms guiding family formation.

We seek to identify the mechanisms behind this fertility decline, increase in childlessness and the shifting social inequalities involved.

>>Read more

PI: Senior Researcher Marika Jalovaara

Implementation of a subproject based on a survey of the scientific evaluation of the basic income experimentn

From Ideal to Non-Ideal Egalitarianism: How Stereotypes and Psychological Differences in Preference Influence the Gender-Equality Paradox (EDUFI)

PI: Elina Kilpi-Jakonen
Funding: The Ministry of Education and Culture

Children of immigrants, language and integration across Europe (AT CILIE)

PI: Elina Kilpi-Jakonen
Funding: Academy of Finland

NORFACE Scientific Programme Coordinator

Low birth rate in Europe in early 2000s: differences, causes and consequences

PI: Mikko Niemelä
Funding: Academy of Finland

Tackling Inequalities in Time of Austerity TITA

The consortium project Tackling Inequalities in Time of Austerity (TITA) provides a novel and comprehensive analysis of long-term trends in financial inequalities, inequalities in health and well-being and inequalities of opportunities over the life course, and their links to the moral and political climate in society. Thus, it analyses together multiple forms of inequality (such as income, wealth, consumption, education, family dynamics, health, mortality, trust and deprivation) and their interrelationships.

It introduces a holistic framework for mapping the most crucial target groups for policy measures and ensures feasible policy recommendations for reducing inequalities in society for decades to come. It provides tools for policy-learning, both through within-country studies and cross-national comparisons. It exhausts unique longitudinal and time-series data and top-of-the-art statistical methods to fully explore mechanisms of inequality.

>> Read more

PI: Mikko Niemelä
Funding: Academy of Finland

Family relationships, generations and life course (KinCross)

Antti O. Tanskanen’s and Mirkka Danielsbacka’s”Family relationships, generations and life course” (KinCross) project explores the family relationships of two generations: Finnish boomer age ranges (born between 1945 and 1950) and their adult children (born between 1964 and 1999).

The project is divided into three sub-studies, which are carried out through the use of Chain of Generations data sets. The first explores how the use of modern communication technology relates to contact and support between relatives. The second utilizes the longitudinal feature of Chain of Generations data and analyzes changes in kinship relationships before, during and after the onset of an economic recession. Part three uses a retrospective module of materials and examines how conditions in early, middle and late childhood affect the shape of kindred relationships during life.

The project will produce new information about kindred relationships at different stages of the life course.

Funding: Academy of Finland 1.9.2020–30.8.2024.

Finnish population registry data

Finland as a society of appearance

PI Outi Sarpila

Funding: Emil Aaltonen Foundation

Social mechanisms behind the economic consequences of physical appearance (SOMA)

SOMA (The social mechanisms behind the economic consequences of physical appearance) is a research project funded by the Academy of Finland from 2019 to 2023 to explore the social mechanisms of the economic consequences of appearance. Previous explanations of the mechanism that gives rise to the economic consequences of appearance revert to the assumption of beauty solely as a good-producing property. In recent years, however, there has been a change in understanding the economic consequences of appearance.

The project seeks to clarify the importance of appearance in economic exchange, looking at appearance from the perspective of both beauty and professional appearance. The effects of appearance are considered both gender-wise and from the perspective of different professional fields, taking into account the male-female and female-dominated fields, and mixed fields.

The study analyses data linking the facial images and occupations of thousands of Finns to examine the economic impact of appearance in different professional fields. Both the images assessments and the social test set are carried out in the form of extensive population level surveys in Finland.

The project aims to find a new mechanism that would explain the economic benefits and disadvantages of appearance to individuals better than current explanatory models.

PI Outi Sarpila

Children's dual residence and social security

Children’s dual residence and social security is a research project by Kela, the University of Turku and the University of Tampere, which seeks information on the increasing need for children’s dual residence and related support. The forms of support that are important to many divorced families, housing benefit, income support and many family policy benefits, as well as services, do little to take into account children’s dual residence. The generalisation of shift housing requires a reassessment of many criteria for determining social benefits and rights.

The project explores the prevalence of children’s dual residence and its features through a large nationwide survey targeting divorced families. In addition, the project will assess the economic impact of taking into account children’s living in the context of housing support, child support and subsistence support spending. Calculations will also be made about the impact of benefit system changes on families’ livelihoods. The international comparative information and literature review will be used to collect practices and experiences in regard to children’s shift living in other countries’ social security and benefit systems and evaluate their suitability to the Finnish social security system.

In particular, Mia Hakovirran ja Mari Haapanen are responsible for the international comparison of dual residence and benefit systems and issues related to child maintenance.

Life course experiences, intergenerational processes, and child well-being and development

The purpose of this multidisciplinary project is to explore how parents’ socioeconomic and family careers affect their children’s well-being and early development. The project includes researchers from both social and medical sciences.

Gestational and early childhood conditions have been found to have a significant impact on psychological and physiological development. The effects extend all the way to the health of adulthood and, for example, the level of education achieved and financial and professional status. However, conditions are not evenly divided between children and their families; social inequality is evident even in early childhood.

In the project, factors affecting children’s well-being and development are approached from a new perspective in a way that has not been used in the past in the study of social and health inequality. This also enables new information to support the welfare and development of children and to produce information on inequality in children’s circumstances.

The new understanding can be exploited when designing social interventions to address perceived inequalities, for example through means supporting parenthood. The study combines data from the Finnbrain cohort study with population registry data describing socioeconomic life cycles.

PI Matti Lindberg

Funding: Academy of Finland

Literature review 'How young people and their parents perceive the services on offer and use them'

Social Policy

BIBU – Tackling Biases and Bubbles in Participation

BIBU eli Kansalaisuuden kuilut ja kuplat / Tackling Biases and Bubbles in Participation is a research project that explores how the global flux of economic restructuring, urbanisation, and migration, changes citizens’ political capacities, interests, and emotions, and how the political system responds to these changes. The interdisciplinary consortium is composed of researchers from the fields of politics, psychology, social policy, sociology, economics, and communications.communications.

>> Read more

Experiment with Inclusive Social Security

The experiment aims to lift adults, people who have been out of work for a long time away from subsistence support and find pathways to inclusion and employment. Inclusion is widely seen as human economic, social and dysfunctional well-being.

>> Read more (in Finnish only)

Impact assessment in wellbeing economy

Wellbeing economy is an approach that brings perspectives of economic, social and environmental development together and into the decision-making process. This project will model a wellbeing economy framework appropriate to the Finnish context and design a set of indicators for monitoring wellbeing economy.  In addition, a proposal for a steering model for wellbeing economy at government level will be developed.

PI: Heikki Hiilamo

Funding: Sustainable Growth Programme for Finland


Persistent bullying cases: towards tailored intervention approaches to maximize efficiency (CHALLENGE)

Bullying in schools is widespread, with adverse effects on youth and high costs for societies. Research on bullying prevention has so far focused on average effects of anti-bullying programs and mainly concerned universal, preventive measures. While important, this has overshadowed attempts to uncover how exactly school personnel intervene in particular bullying cases and when and why that fails. CHALLENGE will open up new research horizons by shifting the focus from average program effects to the characteristics and conditions of youth who remain victimized or continue bullying despite targeted interventions.

> CHALLENGE website

PI: Professor Christina Salmivalli
Funding: European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant

Graduation during the covid pandemic?

A study on adolescents completing their upper secondary level studies during the covid-19 pandemic. The project collected a survey from students and published the results in Autumn 2020. The survey data will be used in a PhD research (Juuso Repo).

PI: Professor Christina Salmivalli
Funding: Ministry of Education and Culture

KiVa School®, Program against bullying

KiVa is an antibullying program that has been developed in the University of Turku, Finland, with funding from the Ministry of Education and Culture. The program is evidence-based which means that the effectiveness of KiVa has been proven scientifically. KiVa offers a wide range of concrete tools and materials for schools to tackle bullying.

KiVa is in use in more than 20 countries.

>>Read More

PI: Christina Salmivalli

Opintokamu®, Tools for students' wellbeing in upper secondary level schools

The Opintokamu programme provides easily deployable and motivational tools for students’ wellbeing.

PI: PhD, Specialist Elisa Poskiparta

Inside the Mind of Adolescent Bullying Perpetrators (BULLYMIND)

The BULLYMIND project aims to identify the cognitions that underlie the adolescents’ decision to instigate bullying against a peer. The current consensus among researchers is that bullies are motivated by the achievement of high popularity. This perspective is influential in the development of new anti-bullying strategies, but fails to consider that, despite being perceived as popular, adolescent bullies are generally disliked. The project addresses the following question: If gains in popularity motivate bullying behaviour, why do losses in likeability not prevent it?

Findings will have important implications for practice as well as theoretical implications for models of aggression and peer status.

PI/Team Leader: Assistant Professor Claire Garandeau

Improving the implementation of school-based programs promoting youth well-being (IMPRES)

The main goal of IMPRES (Implementation research project) is to gain knowledge on the implementation and sustainability of school-based programs promoting youth well-being, and thus to improve the effectiveness of them. In practice, we are investigating the implementation of KiVa antibullying programme developed in Finland from 2010 onwards. Both quantitative and qualitative methods are utilized. New tools to support schools in implementing prevention programs are being developed and evaluated.

PI/Team Leader: Senior Researcher Sanna Herkama
Funding: Turku University Foundation 2020-2021

Reducing Bullying by Increasing Empathy: From Virtual Reality to Actual Behavior? (VICARIOUS)

The VICARIOUS project aims to pilot a Virtual-Reality (VR) tool that makes users experience bullying by peers. Ethical aspects are considered and the study is planned carefully so as not to cause any actual harm to the participants. The short and long-term effectiveness of exposure to victual victimization in raising children’s empathy and changing their behavior in real-life bullying situations will be tested. Inter-individual differences in participants’ responses, at the neural (using brain imaging), emotional and behavioral levels will be investigated.

PI/Team Leader: Assistant Professor Claire Garandeau

Opintokamu II

Opintokamu is a well-being program for secondary education institutions. In the new project we continue the development of the Opintokamu portal by adding a tool to evaluate one’s strengths and challenges in the areas of studies, social relations, and mental well-being, and to get feedback thereof.

PIs: PhD, Specialist Elisa Poskiparta and Professor Christina Salmivalli

Funding: Ministry of Education and Culture  (1.1.2021-31.5.2022)

Following up on Finnish KiVa schools and program effectiveness

This project focuses on Finnish schools registered as users of the KiVa antibullying program, comparing them with schools that never registered. The extent to which indicators of program implementation are linked to changes in bullying and victimization in Finland since 2009 is examined. The aim is to address the question of whether there is evidence of effectiveness of the KiVa program when implemented across several years in real-world conditions.

The project utilizes combined longitudinal data collected as part of two large-scale survey studies: the annual KiVa student survey and the biannual School Health Promotion Study (Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare). Results will shed a light on the levels of, and rates of change in, bullying and victimization in KiVa schools and non-KiVa schools as well as on the implications of implementation-related indicators. Challenges and possibilities in investigating the long-term sustainability and effectiveness of school-based programs will also be discussed.

PI/Team Leader: Senior Researcher Silja Saarento-Zaprudin

Tita - a mindfulness app for upper secondary students

Tita is a digital mindfulness-based program for upper secondary education students. It was found to alleviate anxiety and depression and increase happiness in participants in a nationwide randomized controlled trial. An expanded new Tita app will be out in late 2021 and will be available in the majority of educational institutions like the previous version of Tita. Tita’s effects are being researched in our lab.

PI/Team Leader: Senior Researcher Oskari Lahtinen
Funding: Turku University Foundation (1.4.-1.8.2022)

The Roles of Victimization and Social Status in Adolescents’ Risk Behaviors and Psychosocial Adjustment

Peer victimization is a serious problem that is related to detrimental behavioral, social, and emotional adjustment for youth, including aggression and substance use. Although most research on the topic has focused on marginalized victims (i.e., those with low social status), growing evidence suggests that high-status youth are also at risk for victimization which is troubling as high-status youth are already more likely to be aggressive and to engage in substance use. Popular adolescents may be particularly sensitive to challenges to their social standing (i.e., victimization), and therefore may engage in behaviors intended to maintain status.

This project aims to examine the potential consequences of high-status adolescents’ experiences of victimization for both individuals (e.g., aggression, health-risk behaviors) as well as the larger peer group (e.g., increased levels of aggression in the classroom).

PI: Senior Researcher Sarah Malamut
Funding: National Institutes of Health (NIH), 28.9.2020 – 27.9.2023

Fostering Finnish Science Capital (FINSCI)

The FINSCI consortium is led by the University of Turku, and it includes the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Helsinki, the Finnish Science Center Heureka, and science association Skope ry. The project is funded by the Strategic Research Council (SRC) established within the Academy of Finland. The Fostering Finnish Science Capital (FINSCI) project aims to investigate and develop Finnish science capital, i.e. the possibilities for individuals to interact with science and get to know people in science, as well as their scientific literacy, critical thinking and science communication skills. The work package hosted by the department of psychology focuses on the role of emotions in learning and understanding scientific information.

Project’s website

PI/Team Leader: Consortium leader, Assistant Professor Johanna K. Kaakinen

Funding: Strategic Research Council, 1.10.2020-30.9.2023

Immersion in literary narrative: Emotional and cognitive processes (IMMERSED)

DESCRIPTION: IMMERSED takes a psychological perspective on literary experience, with a specific focus on immersion. We examine how emotionally provoking texts capture attention and/or induce mind-wandering during reading and audiobook listening by utilising laboratory measures like eye tracking and EEG recordings.

PI/Team Leader: Consortium leader, Assistant Professor Johanna K. Kaakinen

Funding: Academy of Finland, 1.1.2021-31.12.2024

Does Being Defended Help or Hurt Victims of Bullying (SOLID)?

 Bullying is a pervasive problem in schools, with disastrous effects on victims. Many interventions promote peer defending (standing up against bullies, consoling victims) in the hope that it stops bullying and improves victims’ psychological adjustment. Recently, a few studies examined whether victims actually benefit from being defended, and alarming findings emerged: being defended was ineffective or even provoked more bullying and worsened victims’ psychosocial adjustment. How can this be the case? In this project, I propose that the effectiveness of defending can be explained by victims’ social cognitions (e.g., learned helplessness), and depend upon defender- and victim characteristics (popularity of defenders, victims’ self-confidence), and classroom norms. Combining social network analyses with a daily diary design, I will advance a theoretical model of the effects of defending on victims, which will be translated into practical guidelines for anti-bullying programs.

PI/TEAM LEADER: Senior Researcher Lydia Laninga-Wijnen

Genetic influences, childhood environmental quality and children’s bullying behaviours



Schools and neighbourhoods are two significant environments which could encourage or hinder bullying behaviours. However, it is difficult to evaluate the contribution of the neighbourhood and school quality on children’s bullying behaviours because the neighbourhood in which children grow up is associated with the socio-economic status of their parents, which is environmentally and genetically influenced. Despite this, neighbourhood, school, family risk factors, and genetic predispositions are rarely assessed in an integrative developmental context, so their combined and interactive effects on children’s bullying problems remain unclear. Molecular genetic analyses within a randomized controlled trial and a population-based longitudinal study design are unique, but powerful ways to reveal the genetic origins of risk factors for bullying behaviours. Understanding the etiology of bullying behaviours is crucial for the development of preventive programs tailored to individual, school and neighbourhood risks.

Objective 1: To examine the interaction between children’s genetic predisposition for externalized behaviours and neighbourhood quality on children’s levels of bullying behaviours.

Objective 2: To examine the interaction between children’s genetic predisposition for externalized behaviours and exposure to adversity in the family environment on children’s levels of bullying behaviours.

Objective 3: To examine whether the impact of the Kiva anti-bullying intervention program differs according to children’s genetic risks.

PI/TEAM LEADER: Senior Researcher Marie-Pier Larose

FUNDING AND FUNDING PERIOD: Fonds de Recherche du Québec – Santé (Canada)

Child Psychiatry

Let's Talk EU4

The aim of the project is to train and implement the Let’s Talk about Children intervention developed in Finland in a total of eight European countries. The project aims to disseminate and implement the intervention in seven European countries by training local Let’s Talk about Children professionals. The intervention can be used, for example, in connection with mental health services or in reception centres for asylum seekers. It can also be used in early childhood education and comprehensive school. The implementation will take into account the local context and specific local needs.

Partners: University of Turku and MIELI Mental Health Finland

Funding: EU4Health 2023-2025

PI: Kirsi Peltonen


Voimaperheet develops, evaluates and implements digitally delivered, low-threshold preventive and early care interventions aiming at increasing the psychosocial wellbeing of children, adolescent and families. The goal is to transfer the focus of treatment from specialized services to prevention.

The interventions target mental health problems with high public health significance during critical developmental transition periods from pregnancy to adolescence. The targeted treatment and universal preventive services are built on evidence-based methods to promote self-efficacy and psychosocial skills, and prevent later adversities in life.

Targeted interventions

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention for Maternal Antenatal Depression
  • Parent Training Intervention for Disruptive Behavior in 4-Year-Old Children
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention for Anxiety among School-Aged Children

Universal interventions

  • Parent Training Intervention for Families with 3-Year-Old Children
  • Mental Health Literacy Intervention for University Students
    In-service training for early childhood education staff

PI: André Sourander
Funding: Academy of Finland, ERC

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DIGIPARENT – Implementation, personalization and genetics of digitally assisted parent training intervention to improve child mental health services

Childhood disruptive behavior problems pose huge challenge to societies given the high lifetime burden and costs associated. Mounting evidence shows that parent training is the most effective psychosocial treatment for these problems. However, most parents in need of such training do not receive it. DIGIPARENT will shift the research focus from specialized care face-to-face parent training to  study  digitally assisted parent training  interventions when implemented in  primary health.

DIGIPARENT also responds to the urgent need to study digital and remote interventions as child mental health services struggle with the considerable increase in demand for services, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

PI: André Sourander

Funding: European Research Council

Astonishing Years implementation study

The project will explore the use of Astonishing Years parenting groups as part of services for families with children. All guardians who participated in the Astonishing Years groups during 2021 to 2025 will be invited to the study.

PI: André Sourander
Funding: ITLA

A national birth cohort study of prenatal factors and neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorders

The Finnish Prenatal Studies is a large case-control study examining prenatal and early development factors associated with major neuropsychiatric disorders. The subprojects include studies on schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, ADHD, conduct disorder, anxiety, Tourette Syndrome, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.

FIPS is the largest seroepidemiologic study of prenatal exposures in psychiatric disorders using archived prenatal sera, based on the Finnish Maternity Cohort (FMC). The samples were obtained from over 98% of all pregnancies in Finland in 1983-2016 (2 million pregnancies) during the first trimester.

The team has used register based information including obstetric complications, gestational age and birth weight, indicators for hypoxia, neonatal disorders, family psychopathology, and parental age. The findings include showing that several maternal prenatal biomarkers including cotinine, vitamin D and inflammatory markers, other early developmental factors, and family history of psychiatric disorder are independently associated with neuropsychiatric disorders

PI and co-PI’s: prof. André Sourander, docent Heljä-Marja Surcel, docent David Gyllenberg, MD, PhD Kim Kronström, docent Roshan Chudal, prof. Alan Brown (Columbia University).

Main funding: National Institutes of Health, National Institutes of Mental health, Autism Speaks Foundation, several other foundations and Turku University Hospital expert responsibility area (ERVA) State Research Funding.

Prenatal and Early Infancy Risk Factors of ADHD – A Nationwide Biomarker and Register-Based Study

This project addresses identification of environmental risk factors, as well as their interaction with familial susceptibility. The study overall offers the promise of facilitating translational research to uncover pathogenic mechanisms by which these exposures alter fetal brain development and lead to ADHD. This could result in an improved understanding of the mechanisms by which in utero insults alter postnatal brain development in ADHD and potentially target infants at high risk for the disorder.

The project addresses the following themes: 1) make use of serological biomarkers and interaction of several environmental exposures such as maternal inflammation, smoking, thyroid function and vitamin-D deficiency during pregnancy; 2) measures of arterial pH and early childhood diseases; and 3) transgenerational family clustering of psychiatric disorders.

The project utilizes a large nationally representative sample that has shown high diagnostic validity including 10,409 ADHD cases born since 1991. To further decrease the risk of unmeasured confounding, such as social adversity and inherited factors, a complementary sibling analysis is conducted. This design will allow automatically excluding confounding of all shared environmental and a substantial proportion of genetic factors. The study is be a starting point for future genetic studies and gene-environment interactions in ADHD.

PI: André Sourander

Funding: Academy of Finland

Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven COVID-19 anxiety management intervention

Families are finding themselves facing unexpected challenges e.g. on coping with heightened anxiety caused by COVID-19, work and childcare balance leading failing to recognize and respond to children’s cues or distress including emotional needs.

The objectives of this project are 1) to design an evidence-based, conversational, AI-driven anxiety management tool for web and mobile based on cognitive behavioural therapy techniques; 2) to study short-term and long-term outcome of the remote anxiety intervention program; 3) to gain knowledge of parent’s and children’s mental health and their experiences of social isolation.

PI: André Sourander, Co-PI Jayden Khakurel

Funding: Academy of Finland

Development Pathways and Autism Spectrum Disorders (DoD)

PI Heljä-Marja Surcel

Funding: NIH

Infant Brain Rhythms: From Smart Clothes to Computational Analysis and Therapy Monitoring (RIB)

PI: André Sourander

Funding: Academy of Finland

Maternal Exposure to Antidepressants and Psychiatric Outcomes Among Offspring in a National Birth Cohort

The project investigates long-term risk factors in offspring for the maternal use of SSRIs during pregnancy, whether the fetus is particularly sensitive to the effects of SSRIs at a spesific stage of pregnancy and whether there are differences between the antidepressants in terms of fetal safety.

Registers used: Medical Birth Register, Register of Congenital Malformations, Drug Reimbursement Register, Hospital Discharge Register, Population Register,

Follow-up years:1996‒2021

PI & co-PI’s: Heli Malm, David Gyllenberg, Andre Sourander, Susanna Hinkka-Yli-Salomäki, Mika Gissler, Alan Brown (Columbia University, New York)

Funding: National Institutes of Mental Health

Psychiatric symptoms and service use among children and adolescents before and after the COVID-19 epidemic

Psychiatric problems among children and adolescents are at great risk to increase

following the COVID-19 epidemic. As mental health among youth can have long-term consequences, it is of great significance to identify the type of psychiatric problems and related service use that might change over time. To reliably identify such associations, systematically collected population-based data both before and after the COVID-19 epidemic need to be analysed.

This project will demonstrate to what degree there have been changes in psychiatric symptoms and related service use following the COVID-19 epidemic. The research outputs are expected to inform targeted public health interventions that can mitigate the consequences of the epidemic.

We have previously shown a major increase in service use for psychiatric disorders among children and adolescents, but minor temporal changes in psychiatric symptoms among children, adolescents and young adults based on long-term time-trend studies. The project provides a unique possibility to combine reliable baseline data to data collected after the COVID-19 epidemic. The project utilizes repeated cross-sectional studies of children, adolescents and males at military call-up-study. In addition, data on service use and sociodemographic factors are collected. To study rarer outcomes, we will utilize national register data of cohorts of all children born between 1996 and 2018 (N»1.3Million).

PI: David Gyllenberg

Funding: Academy of Finland

Risk factors for the fetal period, cognitive performance in adolescence and schizophrenia

Finnish Psychiatric Birth Cohort Consortium (PSYCOHORTS)

The Finnish Psychiatric Birth Cohort Consortium (PSYCOHORTS) combines the major prospectively designed Finnish psychiatric birth cohorts. The integration of these cohorts will enable us to address issues related to the development, trajectories and life outcomes of psychiatric disorders.

Unique from a global perspective, Finland has several nationwide registers and a biobank of maternal sera. Linkages can be made between registers, biobank data and records from health check-ups. The PSYCOHORTS Consortium comprises of eight prospective birth cohorts in Finland: the Northern Finland Birth Cohorts 1966 and 1986, Finnish 1981 Birth Cohort Study, Finnish Prenatal Studies, 1987 and 1997 Birth Cohorts, SSRI pregnancy cohort and Southwest Finland Birth Cohort. The integration of these cohorts enables us to address issues related to the life course development of psychiatric disorders. Data spanning from 1960s to date allows us to study time trends between different cohorts and between different time points.

PI and Co-PIs: André Sourander, Mika Gissler, Juha Veijola (University of Oulu)

Funding: Academy of Finland