Psychiatric Epidemiology – Northern Finland Birth Cohort studies 1966 and 1986

Group leader
Professor Jouko Miettunen

Background and significance

The research group investigates different topics relating to psychiatric epidemiology. The research topics include for instance risk and outcome research on psychosis, depression and alcohol use. Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders are a major public health problem and leading unsolved disease afflicting about 3-4 % of the population. In Finland, the prevalence of any psychotic disorder is even higher; 4.5 %. Schizophrenia is a complex genetic disorder manifesting combined environmental and genetic causation. To date, the candidate risk factors include e.g. advanced paternal age, obstetric complications, cannabis use, motor dysfunction, urbanicity, and low IQ. Data from Northern Finland birth cohorts have underpinned many of these key findings. Depression is major public health concern and affect about 10% of population. Risk factors include various biological and social factors, personality and life events. The team investigates also psychosocial factors on cancer and effect of temperament on physical and mental health. The team has long experience in epidemiology and access to unique data sets, the findings are likely to have both clinical and public health influence.

Future goals

The Northern Finland birth cohorts offer unique possibilities to study risk factors, time trends and interactions in risk factors for psychoses and depression in comparable samples. The studies utilizing the longitudinal design and unselected sample are likely to produce new information on the risk factors of psychiatric disorders.

Research funding 

  • Academy of Finland
  • Juho Vainio Foundation

Research group members

Post-doctoral researchers:

  • Antti Mustonen, MD, PhD
  • Nina Rautio, PhD
  • Tanja Nordström, PhD
  • Mika Niemelä, PhD

PhD students:

  • Aleksi Ahola, BMed
  • Johanna Kehusmaa, MHSc
  • Lotta Kinnunen, MD
  • Meri Lassila, MD
  • Daniel Seppälä, MD
  • Anniina Tastula, MD

Other personnel:

  • Anni-Emilia Niemelä, MSc, statistician

Most important collaborators

  • Erika Jääskeläinen, University of Oulu, Finland
  • Peter Jones, University of Cambridge, UK
  • Graham Murray, University of Cambridge, UK
  • John McGrath, University of Queensland, Australia
  • Solja Niemelä, University of Oulu, Finland
  • Leena Ala-Mursula, University of Oulu, Finland 

Last updated: 8.5.2020