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university of tampere: faculty of medicine and life sciences: research:
Faculty of Medicine and Life SciencesUniversity of TampereFaculty of Medicine and Life Sciences

Adolescent Psychiatry

Riittakerttu Kaltiala-Heino
tel. +358 50 318 6301

Riittakerttu Kaltiala-Heino - Official Website >>


Current research projects

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. Most recent academic dissertation in this project, comparing staff’s views of adolescent aggression and its management in adolescent forensic units in four countries, was published in 2012 by Johanna Berg (University of Turku).

Adolescent Mental Health Cohort Study 

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.

Ninth grade students from all Finnish-speaking secondary schools in two Finnish cities, Tampere and Vantaa, filled in a person-identifiable questionnaire during a school lesson supervised by a teacher. Questionnaires with two reminders were mailed to students absent from school on the day of the survey. The final baseline (T1) sample comprised 1609 girls and 1669 boys, with a mean age of 15.5 (SD 0.39). The response rate was 94%. Subjects responding to the first survey were contacted through their current educational institutions, by post and finally through the Internet to invite their participation in the two-year follow-up survey (T2). The final T2 sample (2070 respondents) represented 63% of the adolescents who responded to the first survey, with a mean age of 17.6 (SD 0.41). Second follow-up at 6 years after the baseline received less favourable response rate, about 40%. The replication of the baseline survey was carried out in 2012-13 among ninth grade pupils in Tampere. 1293 responses were received (675 girls, 636 boys, age mean(sd) 15.7(0.40) years.

The project is led by professor Riittakerttu Kaltiala-Heino, professor Mauri Marttunen (National Institute for Health and Welfare) and adjunct professor Sari Fröjd (University of Tampere, School of Health Sciences). A number of doctoral and undergraduate diploma students participate in the project. Riittakerttu Kaltiala-Heino has researched in the AMHC data particularly involvement in bullying and mental health, and pubertal timing and mental health.

Adolescent psychiatric health services research

This topic comprises studies evaluating service use, service systems and practices, and outcome of adolescent psychiatric treatment on population level.

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Last update: 24.2.2014 12.00 Muokkaa

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