Anna K Forsman

Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Southwest Finland, Finland

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Publications (23)26.83 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Mental and brain disorders represent the greatest health burden to Europe—not only for directly affected individuals, but also for their caregivers and the wider society. They incur substantial economic costs through direct (and indirect) health-care and welfare spending, and via productivity losses, all of which substantially affect European development. Funding for research to mitigate these effects lags far behind the cost of mental and brain disorders to society. Here, we describe a comprehensive, coordinated mental health research agenda for Europe and worldwide. This agenda was based on systematic reviews of published work and consensus decision making by multidisciplinary scientific experts and affected stakeholders (more than 1000 in total): individuals with mental health problems and their families, health-care workers, policy makers, and funders. We generated six priorities that will, over the next 5–10 years, help to close the biggest gaps in mental health research in Europe, and in turn overcome the substantial challenges caused by mental disorders.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · The Lancet Psychiatry
  • Anna K Forsman · Johanna Nordmyr
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    ABSTRACT: Research on the role of information and communication technology (ICT) use for active aging is limited. The aim of this systematic review is to investigate the link between Internet use and mental health among older adults. The review was conducted based on searches in 9 electronic databases (2002-2014). A meta-synthesis approach was applied, examining quantitative (18) and qualitative (14) studies. The findings from the synthesis of quantitative statistical data indicate an overall positive association between Internet use and mental health and its psychosocial covariates in later life. The psychosocial links between Internet use and mental health identified from the qualitative data were (a) enhanced interpersonal interaction at individual level, (b) increased access to resources within the community, and (c) empowered social inclusion at society level.The results highlight the multi-level psychosocial links between Internet use and mental health, which may be applied in initiatives targeting healthy aging in various settings. © The Author(s) 2015.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2015
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    ABSTRACT: The field of public mental health has been defined by an expert group convened by the Nordic School of Public Health (NHV) as encompassing the experience, occurrence, distribution and trajectories of positive mental health and mental health problems and their determinants; mental health promotion and prevention of mental disorders; as well as mental health system policies, governance and organization. The mental health priorities of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2010 signalled a mutual Nordic exchange of knowledge in the following thematic areas: child and adolescent mental health; working life and mental health; mental health in older people; strengthening the role of primary care in mental health service provision; stronger involvement of users and carers; and reduction of use of coercion in psychiatric care. Efforts to realize these priorities included commissioning the Nordic Research Academy for Mental Health, an NHV-based network of research institutions with a common interest in mental health research across the Nordic countries, to develop, organize and follow-up projects on public mental health. The research initiatives included mental health policy analysis, register-based research and research focused on the users' perspective in a Nordic context, as well as EU-level research policy analysis. The public mental health research conducted at the NHV highlighted the complexity of mental health and emphasized that the broad determinants of mental health need to be increasingly addressed in both public health research and practice. For example, health promotion actions, improved access to health care, a healthy alcohol policy and prevention of suicides and violence are all needed to reduce the life expectancy gap - a red flag indicator of public health inequalities. By exchanging knowledge and best practice, the collaboration between the Nordic countries contributes to the welfare of the region. The expertise and traditions developed at the NHV are of significant importance in this work. © 2015 the Nordic Societies of Public Health.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · Scandinavian Journal of Public Health
  • Fredrica Nyqvist · Anna K. Forsman
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    ABSTRACT: -Examines the social aspects of healthy ageing for older individuals living in America, Europe, Asia, and Africa in various contexts -Features more than 15 papers written by expert researchers that offer a multi-disciplinary approach to the subject - Offers implications and recommendations for research and practice This book examines the social aspects of healthy ageing for older individuals. It features more than 15 papers that explore the relevance of the social environment for health on the micro, meso, and macro level. Overall, the book applies a comprehensive contextual approach that includes discussion of how family and friends, neighborhoods, nations, and welfare regimes influence health. The book first explores the issue on the individual level. It looks at the importance of social capital for health among older people, examines types of social networks and health among older Americans, as well as discusses dynamic social capital and mental health in late life. Next, the book looks at the issue through a neighborhood and societal context, which takes into account day-to-day interaction in the immediate environment as well as the social, health, and economic policies in place in different regions in the world, including America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. From there, the book goes on to offer implications and recommendations for research and practice, including the management of related concepts of research on well-being and health. It also offers a psychosocial approach to promoting social capital and mental health among older adults. This book provides health professionals as well as researchers and students in gerontology, sociology, social policy, psychology, and social work with vital insights into the social factors that increase healthy life years and promote well-being.
    No preview · Book · Apr 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Background: The ROAdmap for MEntal health Research in Europe project aimed to create an integrated European roadmap for mental health research. Leading mental health research experts across Europe have formulated consensus-based recommendations for future research within the public mental health field. Methods: Experts were invited to compile and discuss research priorities in a series of topic-based scientific workshops. In addition, a Delphi process was carried out to reach consensus on the list of research priorities and their rank order. Three web-based surveys were conducted. Nearly 60 experts were involved in the priority setting process. Results: Twenty priorities for public mental health research were identified through the consensus process. The research priorities were divided into summary principles-encompassing overall recommendations for future public mental health research in Europe-and thematic research priorities, including area-specific top priorities on research topics and methods. The priorities represent three overarching goals mirroring societal challenges, that is, to identify causes, risk and protective factors for mental health across the lifespan; to advance the implementation of effective public mental health interventions and to reduce disparities in mental health. Conclusions: The importance of strengthening research on the implementation and dissemination of promotion, prevention and service delivery interventions in the mental health field needs to be emphasized. The complexity of mental health and its broader conceptualisation requires complementary research approaches and interdisciplinary collaboration to better serve the needs of the European population.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · The European Journal of Public Health
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    ABSTRACT: As part of the ROAMER (ROAdmap for MEntal health Research in Europe) project, aiming to create an integrated European roadmap for mental health research, we set out to map the hitherto unmapped territory of public mental health research in Europe. Five electronic databases (CINAHL, Health Management, Medline, PsycINFO, Social Services Abstracts) were used for identifying public mental health research articles published between January 2007 and April 2012. The number of publications for each European country in five research domains (i.e. mental health epidemiology, mental health promotion, mental disorder prevention, mental health policy and mental health services) was analysed by population size and gross domestic product (GDP), and mean impact factors were compared. In all, 8143 unique publications were identified. Epidemiology research dominates public mental health research, while promotion, prevention and policy research are scarce. Mental health promotion is the fastest growing research area. Research targeting older adults is under-represented. Publications per capita were highest in northwestern Europe, and similar trends were found also when adjusting the number of publications by GDP per capita. The most widely cited research origins from Italy, Switzerland, the UK, the Nordic countries, the Netherlands, Greece and France. In Europe, public mental health research is currently a matter of the affluent northern and western European countries, and major efforts will be needed to promote public mental health research in south and east Europe. In spite of a smaller public mental health research output, some Mediterranean countries produce highly cited public mental health research. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Public Health Association. All rights reserved.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2014 · The European Journal of Public Health
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    ABSTRACT: Stigma and social exclusion related to mental health are of substantial public health importance for Europe. As part of ROAMER (ROAdmap for MEntal health Research in Europe), we used systematic mapping techniques to describe the current state of research on stigma and social exclusion across Europe. Findings demonstrate growing interest in this field between 2007 and 2012. Most studies were descriptive (60%), focused on adults of working age (60%) and were performed in Northwest Europe—primarily in the UK (32%), Finland (8%), Sweden (8%) and Germany (7%). In terms of mental health characteristics, the largest proportion of studies investigated general mental health (20%), common mental disorders (16%), schizophrenia (16%) or depression (14%). There is a paucity of research looking at mechanisms to reduce stigma and promote social inclusion, or at factors that might promote resilience or protect against stigma/social exclusion across the life course. Evidence is also limited in relation to evaluations of interventions. Increasing incentives for cross-country research collaborations, especially with new EU Member States and collaboration across European professional organizations and disciplines, could improve understanding of the range of underpinning social and cultural factors which promote inclusion or contribute toward lower levels of stigma, especially during times of hardship.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · European Psychiatry
  • Park A-L · David McDaid · Anna K. Forsman · Kristian Wahlbeck
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    ABSTRACT: This chapter focuses on the wellbeing of older people. It looks at what is known about some of the economic impacts of poor wellbeing in older age, as well as the potential economic benefits of better wellbeing. Contrary to popular opinion, older people make a substantial positive net contribution to the economy through activities such as the provision of informal care, looking after grandchildren, paid employment, and engaging in volunteering. Investing in wellbeing can help further facilitate these benefits, as well as reduce the need for some health-care services. Cost-effective actions that can be taken include various social and group activities to counter social isolation and loneliness. Psychological therapies can also be used to help prevent depression in both the general older population and higher risk groups, including the bereaved. Evidence on the cost-effectiveness of measures to tackle poverty, make use of new social media to combat isolation and encourage participation in adult education are needed.
    No preview · Chapter · Feb 2014
  • A-La Park · David McDaid · Anna K Forsman · Kristian Wahlbeck
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    ABSTRACT: This chapter focuses on the wellbeing of older people. It looks at what is known about some of the economic impacts of poor wellbeing in older age, as well as the potential economic benefits of better wellbeing. Contrary to popular opinion, older people make a substantial positive net contribution to the economy through activities such as the provision of informal care, looking after grandchildren, paid employment, and engaging in volunteering. Investing in wellbeing can help further facilitate these benefits, as well as reduce the need for some health-care services. Cost-effective actions that can be taken include various social and group activities to counter social isolation and loneliness. Psychological therapies can also be used to help prevent depression in both the general older population and higher risk groups, including the bereaved. Evidence on the cost-effectiveness of measures to tackle poverty, make use of new social media to combat isolation and encourage participation in adult education are needed.
    No preview · Book · Feb 2014
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    ABSTRACT: Despite the high impact of mental disorders in society, European mental health research is at a critical situation with a relatively low level of funding, and few advances been achieved during the last decade. The development of coordinated research policies and integrated research networks in mental health is lagging behind other disciplines in Europe, resulting in lower degree of cooperation and scientific impact. To reduce more efficiently the burden of mental disorders in Europe, a concerted new research agenda is necessary. The ROAMER (Roadmap for Mental Health Research in Europe) project, funded under the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme, aims to develop a comprehensive and integrated mental health research agenda within the perspective of the European Union (EU) Horizon 2020 programme, with a translational goal, covering basic, clinical and public health research. ROAMER covers six major domains: infrastructures and capacity building, biomedicine, psychological research and treatments, social and economic issues, public health and well-being. Within each of them, state-of-the-art and strength, weakness and gap analyses were conducted before building consensus on future research priorities. The process is inclusive and participatory, incorporating a wide diversity of European expert researchers as well as the views of service users, carers, professionals and policy and funding institutions.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014
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    Full-text · Dataset · Oct 2013
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined associations between problem gambling and type of gambling engagement (online, land-based or both), psychological distress, alcohol-related problems and demographics among male (n ¼ 1438) and female (n ¼ 1546) past-year gamblers in Western Finland. In this sample, 7.6% of men and 3.1% of women were screened as problem gamblers. Logistic regression analyses were used to study the associations for men and women separately. Among men, engaging in both land-based and online gambling or engaging in online gambling only and psychological distress increased the risk of problem gambling. Among women, engaging in both land-based and online gambling and alcohol-related problems were significantly associated with problem gambling. The findings further highlight the need to consider sex differences in preventive and treatment initiatives and policies targeting problem gambling. Online gambling seems to have stronger links with problem gambling, which motivates further research in the eventual harmfulness of this gambling form.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · International Gambling Studies
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to investigate the association between aspects of social capital and loneliness among the very old living at home and in institutional settings. Half of those aged 85 years, and all 90- and 95-year-olds and older in urban and rural municipalities in northern Sweden and western Finland were invited to participate in a cross-sectional population-based study in 2005-2007. A sample of 483 participants who completed the study was included in the analyses. Loneliness was experienced by 55% percent of those living in institutional settings often or sometimes and 45% of those living in their own homes. Loneliness was closely related to living alone, to depression, and to region (northern Sweden). Social capital and loneliness are context dependent (i.e., geographical or living environment). Among the very old, the link between social capital resources and loneliness is also highly influenced by health status.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2013 · Journal of Aging and Health
  • Fredrica Nyqvist · Anna K Forsman · Mima Cattan
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    ABSTRACT: Aim: To assess if older people with higher levels of social capital experience higher levels of sense of mastery than those with lower levels of social capital and to assess whether this association is stronger for retired older people than for older workers. Methods: The data originates from a general population mental health survey conducted among 2610 older people (50 years of age or older) in Finland in 2011. The response rate was 57.1%. The association between sense of mastery, measured by Pearlin's Sense of Mastery Scale, and social capital, measured by social networks, organisational activities, trust, and sense of belonging, were tested by logistic regression analyses. Results: The results showed that older workers experienced greater sense of mastery than retired older people. Trust and neighbourhood belonging were positively associated with sense of mastery. Conclusions: Inequalities in mental wellbeing between older people included in or excluded from the workforce are a public health challenge. Our findings imply that social capital needs to be prioritised as a means for enhancing mental health. More attention should be paid to promote mental wellbeing in retired older people.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2013 · Scandinavian Journal of Public Health
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    ABSTRACT: Previous research applying quantifiable measurements has established significant positive associations between social capital and mental health in older adults. This study aimed to obtain a deeper understanding of the causal mechanisms of social capital affecting mental wellbeing among older people. The study is based on two independent qualitative data materials collected through two focus group interviews and an open-ended question included in a Finnish population-based postal survey. The findings indicate that informal social contacts such as family members and life-long relationships between friends impact the experienced mental wellbeing among older adults due to shared life events, social support, mutual appreciation and trust, as well as a sense of belonging through common social activities. Hence, this study challenges Putnam's idea of social capital as a collective concept focusing on formal contacts and the benefits on a collective level. In addition, the findings highlight the obstacles specific to older adults in maintaining social networks and participation, which should be considered in order to promote mental health in later life.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · Ageing and Society
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    ABSTRACT: Social capital has previously been reviewed in relation to mental health. However, none have focused specifically on positive aspects of mental health such as mental well-being. This review aimed to explore the relationship between social capital and mental well-being in older people. Ten relevant databases were systematically searched using an extensive search strategy for studies, analyzing the link between social capital and mental well-being. Criteria for inclusion in the systematic review were: the study sample included older people (≥50 years); the study reported a mental well-being outcome; social capital was an exposure variable; and empirical research using quantitative methods and published in English, between January 1990 and September 2011. Eleven studies met the inclusion criteria. Each study was assessed against seven possible exposure measures (structural, cognitive; bonding, bridging, linking; individual, collective). The results showed that all included studies found positive associations between parts of social capital and aspects of mental well-being. Typically, the relationship between social capital and mental well-being differed within as well as between studies. Our results highlight that there is no 'gold standard' of how to measure social capital or mental well-being. Social capital is generated in the interaction between individual and collective life. A possibility for future research is therefore to follow Bronfenbrenner's classical division into macro, meso, and micro levels. We consider family and friends at the micro level to be the key factors in generating social capital and well-being in older people.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2012 · Aging and Mental Health
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    A.K. Forsman · F Nyqvist · I Schierenbeck · Y Gustafson · K Wahlbeck
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    ABSTRACT: To study the association between structural and cognitive aspects of social capital and depression among older adults in two Nordic regions. Data were retrieved from a postal survey targeting older adults aged 65, 70, 75 and 80 years (N=6 838, response rate=64%) residing in the Västerbotten region (Sweden), and the Österbotten region (Finland) in 2010. The associations between structural (measured by frequency of social contact with friends and neighbours) and cognitive (measured by experienced trust in friends and neighbours) aspects of social capital and depression (measured by Geriatric Depression Scale, GDS-4) were tested by logistic regression analyses. Both low structural and cognitive social capital as defined in the study showed statistically significant associations with depression in older adults. Only experienced trust in neighbours failed to show significant association with depression. In addition, being single and being 80 years of age indicated a higher risk of depression as defined by GDS-4. The findings underline the connection between adequate levels of both structural and cognitive individual social capital and mental health in later life. They also suggest that the connection differs depending on various network types; the cognitive aspect of relationships between friends was connected to depression, while the connection was not found for neighbours. Further, the oldest age group in the sample (80 years of age) is pointed out as a population especially vulnerable for depression that should not be overlooked in mental health promotion and depression prevention.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2012 · Aging and Mental Health
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    ABSTRACT: This report aims to describe the regional population survey on mental health performed in 2008 and to introduce the questions and survey instruments included. The survey was a follow-up from the population survey completed in 2005. A large scale development project for the mental health and substance abuse services, the Ostrobothnia Project, will be implemented in 2005–2014 by the hospital districts of the Vaasa, South Ostrobothnia and Central Ostrobothnia regions. In addition, the regional depression project ‘Pohjalaiset masennustalkoot’, established by the Vaasa and South Ostrobothnia hospital districts, acted in the area in 2004–2007. The projects were co-funded by the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. To lay the basis for an evaluation of the outcome and effectiveness of these projects, a population survey was performed in the spring 2005 in the Ostrobothnia Project area aiming to define the situation before the project interventions performed. A follow-up was conducted in spring 2008. The random population sample constituted of 5,000 persons aged 15 to 80 from the intervention area and another 5,000 persons of same age distribution from the Hospital District of Southwest Finland, which was set as a control area. The number of inhabitants and the demography of the Southwest Finland region can be considered similar to the intervention area. The survey was set to collect information about mental health, attitudes towards mental disorders and the use of mental health and substance abuse services. Age, sex, municipality, civil status, basic education, the most advanced degree of education, current main activity, and activities in associations and societies were set as background questions. Standardized survey instruments were used in the questionnaire to define different indicators related to mental health. The Pearlin’s Sense of Mastery scale was used as an indicator for the positive mental health and coping abilities. The Oslo 3 instrument was used to define the social support. Three items from the RAND-36 health survey were used to define limitations in psychological role functioning. Respondents’ mental health was measured with the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) scale and alcohol problems with the CAGE test. Questions based on the Composite International Diagnostic Interview Short Form (CIDI-SF) were used for assessing prevalence of major depressive disorder. Use of the social and health care services for mental health or alcohol problems was studied with the same questions used in the Finnish Health Examination Study Health 2000. One of the questions included in this survey for measuring aspects of the social capital has also been used in the Health 2000 study. Respondents’ attitudes towards mental health disorders as well as their knowledge of mental health were examined with questions that were partly constructed for this survey. The survey response was 51.6 %. The highest response frequency was achieved in the Vaasa Hospital District (55.9 %), followed by the other Ostrobothnian hospital districts with somewhat lower response (ca 52.6 %). The lowest response could be noted in the Hospital District of Southwest Finland (49.3 %). This could be explained by the fact that no reminder cards (due to financial reasons) were sent in this hospital district and that the proportion of people with other mother tongue languages than Finnish and Swedish is high in Southwest Finland, especially in Turku. Questionnaires in Finnish were sent to these people. An obvious gender difference was noted regarding response activity; 59.7 % of the women answered the survey, while the comparable number for the men was only 43.3 %. Regarding the mother tongue of the respondents, the response per cent for the Swedish-speaking was 61.2 %, while the Finnish-speaking respondents’ response rate was 50 %. The age group 60-75 was the most active age group in responding. The response activity increased with age, from 17 to 70 years of age, with a decrease among the respond
    Full-text · Book · Jan 2012
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    Anna K Forsman · Johanna Nordmyr · Kristian Wahlbeck
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this review was to assess the effectiveness of psychosocial interventions for the promotion of mental health and prevention of depression among older people. A systematic review of prospective controlled trials was conducted including 69 studies. The studies were divided into physical exercise, skill training, reminiscence, social activities, group support and multicomponent interventions. Data from 44 trials contributed to a meta-analysis of effectiveness. Overall, psychosocial interventions had a positive effect on quality of life and positive mental health. The pooled interventions also had a statistically significant effect on reduction in depressive symptoms. Social activities significantly improved positive mental health, life satisfaction and quality of life and reduced depressive symptoms. Based on the results of this study, duration of interventions is of importance, since interventions lasting for >3 months exhibited more positive effects compared with shorter interventions. Meaningful social activities, tailored to the older individual's abilities and preferences should be considered in aiming to improve mental health among older people.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2011 · Health Promotion International
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    Anna K Forsman · Fredrica Nyqvist · Kristian Wahlbeck
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    ABSTRACT: To determine the associations between the cognitive aspects of social capital and mental health status in older adults. Data on older people (65 years of age or older, n = 1,102) were retrieved from a general population mental health survey conducted in Finland in 2008. The response rate was 61%. The associations between self-reported depression (measured by the Composite International Diagnostic Interview Short Form, CIDI-SF) or psychological distress (measured by the General Health Questionnaire, GHQ-12) and perceived social support, sense of belonging, and trust were tested by logistic regression analyses. For the cognitive social capital indicators, difficult access to help from neighbours showed a significant association with depression. Furthermore, not having people to count on, experiencing a lack of concern from other people, and feeling mistrust towards other people were all significantly associated with psychological distress. Links between mental health and cognitive social capital indicate that social support and trust may be important factors to consider when developing interventions to promote mental health and prevent mental disorders among older adults.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2011 · Scandinavian Journal of Public Health

Publication Stats

192 Citations
26.83 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2015
    • Åbo Akademi University
      • Department of Social Sciences
      Turku, Southwest Finland, Finland
  • 2010-2015
    • National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland
      • Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (MHSA)
      Helsinki, Uusimaa, Finland
  • 2011
    • University of Helsinki
      • Institute of Clinical Medicine
      Helsinki, Uusimaa, Finland