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Research projects

The three-cities study

About this project

Project information

Project status



Katja Boersma

Research subject

Research environments

Former title: Processes that buffer against youth mental health problems: A longitudinal-experimental approach.

Despite decades of research on the conditions that affect the development of youth mental health problems and social adjustment problems, knowledge is lacking about (a) the high comorbidity among different problems and (b) factors that might offset problem development. The aim of this program is to develop this knowledge. We use a new theoretical approach that defines "transdiagnostic factors" as factors that underlie, maintain, or buffer against multiple (comorbid) mental health problems and social adjustment problems. The program will involve a 5-year longitudinal-experimental study of adolescent mental health carried out in six communities. Four preventive intervention studies will be embedded in the longitudinal sample, targeting hypothesized transdiagnostic risk factors (harsh parenting, poor sleep, stress, and peer harassment). Adolescents, parents, and peers will serve as multiple informants. Analyses will focus on identifying risk and buffering processes in the longitudinal and experimental data and understanding the mechanisms. The longitudinal-experimental approach will allow us to draw firmer conclusions than we could from either approach used alone. If transdiagnostic processes can be shown, interventions can target multiple mental health problems at once, rather than focusing on one at a time, thus preserving scarce resources. We will communicate our findings to school health workers, teachers and principals, public health workers, youth organization leaders, parents, and decision-makers at the local, regional, national, and international levels.

This research is collaboration between two research environments at Örebro University: Center for Developmental Research and Center for Health and Medical Psychology. In addition, researchers in History, Public Health, and Political Science are vital to carry through the data collections that are going to take place over the five years.


Research funding bodies

  • The Swedish Research Council Formas
  • Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS)
  • The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (FORTE)
  • Swedish Research Council
  • Vinnova