Current research

Pubertal development, sexual behavior, gender identity and mental health in adolescence
The aim of this project is to explore the coss-sectional and longitudinal associations between pubertal timing, sexual behavior, sexual orientation, gender identity and mental health during middle adolescence when the adolescents reach reproductive maturity but the cognitive, social and emotional development of adolescence are not yet complete. The project uses multi-disciplinary approaches and different data that share in common that they are able to bring about knowledge on the development of sexual behavior, sexual orientation, gender identity and mental health / disorders. The project is intertwined with Finnish and international studies on adolescent health, particularly mental health, health behaviours and health services (School Health Promotion Survey, Adolescent Mental Health Cohort Study, AGIR). The project uses both population based and clinical data, and produces both scientific knowledge and educational materials for professionals working with adolescents, for families and for adolescents themselves.

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 gender differences in aggressive behaviors, violence risk assessment in youth, aggression management in adolescent inpatient settings, and copycat phenomenom after school shootings. I co-operate with senior researchers from Vanha Vaasa Hospital and Kellokoski hospital as well as from the adolescent forensic network of the EFCAP. Three academic dissertations have been published in this project. Johanna Berg’s dissetation (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-Heino, 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 Study is an adolescent mental health survey that comprises a follow-up study among the baseline survey carried out at 2002-3, and a 10 year replication study of the baseline survey. 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.

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.

On February 8 I shall arrange a symposium “Miksi nuorisopsykiatristen palveluiden kysyntä lisääntyy” in Tampere University Hospital Pitkäniemi.