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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.


Bauducco, S.V., Boersma, K., Gradisar, M. (2024). Sleepy and popular? The association between popularity, sleep duration, and insomnia in adolescents. Frontiers in Sleep, in Press.

Larsson, J., Tilton-Weaver, L. C., & Zhoa, X. (2023). Anger dysregulation and non-suicidal self-injury during adolescence: A test of directionality. Development and Psychopathology. 1-10.

Tillfors, M., Van Zalk, N., Boersma, K., & Anniko, M. (2023). Longitudinal links between adolescent social anxiety and depressive symptoms: stressful experiences at home, in school and with peers. Nordic Psychology, 1-20.

Tilton-Weaver, L. C., Latina, D. & Marshall, S. K. (2023). Trajectories of non-suicidal self-injury during adolescence. Journal of Adolescence, 95(3), 437-453. 

Tilton-Weaver, L. C., & Rose, A. J. (2023). The trade-offs of co-ruminating with friends: A profile analysis. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 33(3), 957-972.

Arnison, T., Schrooten, M. G., Bauducco, S., Jansson-Fröjmark, M., & Persson, J. (2022). Sleep phase and pre-sleep arousal predicted co-developmental trajectories of pain and insomnia within adolescence. Scientific reports, 12(1), 1-12. 

Arnison, T. , Schrooten, M. G. S. , Hesser, H. , Jansson-Fröjmark, M. & Persson, J. (2022). Longitudinal, bidirectional relationships of insomnia symptoms and musculoskeletal pain across adolescence: the mediating role of mood. Pain, 163 (2), 287-298. 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000002334 

Bauducco, S. V., Özdemir, M., Gradisar, M., Boersma, K., & Bayram-Özdemir, S. (2022). Trajectories of Insomnia Symptoms and Insufficient Sleep Duration in Early Adolescents: Associations with School Stress. Sleep Advances, 3(1). 

Latina, D., Jaf, D., Alberti, R., & Tilton-Weaver, L. C. (2022). Can participation in organized sports participation help adolescents to refrain from self-harm? An analysis of the underlying mechanisms. Psychology of Sport & Exercise, 59.

Latina, D., Bauducco, S., & Tilton-Weaver, L. C. (2021). Inadequate sleep and non-suicidal self-injury in adolescence: Understanding temporal relations and mechanisms. Journal of Sleep Research, 00:e13190. doi: 10.1111/jsr.13190 

Latina, D., Bauducco, S., & Tilton‐Weaver, L. (2021). Insomnia symptoms and non‐suicidal self‐injury in adolescence: understanding temporal relations and mechanisms. Journal of Sleep Research, e13190. 

Bauducco, S. V., Flink, I. K., Boersma, K., & Linton, S. J. (2020). Preventing sleep deficit in adolescents: Long-term effects of a quasi-experimental school-based intervention study. Journal of Sleep Research, 29, e12940. https :// 0. (Part of PhD thesis) 

Bauducco, S. V., Salihovic, S., & Boersma, K. (2019). Bidirectional associations between adolescents' sleep problems and impulsive behavior over time. Sleep Medicine: X, 1, 100009. 

Mazzer, K., Boersma, K., & Linton, S. J. (2019). A longitudinal view of rumination, poor sleep and psychological distress in adolescents. Journal of Affective Disorders, 245, 686-696. 

Tilton-Weaver, L. C., Marshall, S. K., & Svensson, Y. (2019). Depressive symptoms and non-suicidal self-injury during adolescence: Latent patterns of short-term stability and change. Journal of Adolescence, 75, 163-174.

Anniko, M. K., Boersma, K., van Wijk, N. P. L., Byrne, D., & Tillfors, M. (2018). Development of a Shortened Version of the Adolescent Stress Questionnaire (ASQ-S): construct validity and sex invariance in a large sample of Swedish adolescents. Scandinavian Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology, 6(1), 4-15.

Mazzer, K., Bauducco, S. V., Linton, S. J., & Boersma, K. (2018). Longitudinal associations between time spent using technology and sleep duration among adolescents. Journal of adolescence, 66, 112-119. 

Wurm, M., Anniko, M., Tillfors, M., Flink, I., & Boersma, K. (2018). Musculoskeletal pain in early adolescence: A longitudinal examination of pain prevalence and the role of peer-related stress, worry, and gender. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 111, 76-82.

Bauducco, S. V., Flink, I. K., Jansson-Fröjmark, M., & Linton, S. J. (2016). Sleep duration and patterns in adolescents: Correlates and the role of daily stressors. Sleep Health, 2, 211-218.

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Read more about The Three-Cities Study at

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