Child welfare, equality and social inclusion

Research projects in the Child welfare, equality and social inclusion research group

Our current research projects involve chilld welfare, LGBT related topics, and health- and welfare services from the perspectives of service users and service providers

Main content

Ongoing projects

Primary affiliation

The regular general practitioner scheme: integrated and equitable pathways of depression care, facilitating work participation.

Project group: Sabine Ruths (PI), Inger Haukenes, Stefan Hjørleifsson, Norman Anderssen, Tone Smith-Sivertsen and Valborg Baste at Research Unit for General Practice/NORCE; Øystein Hetlevik and Øystein Haaland at University of Bergen. Cooperators: Simon Øverland and Esperanza Diaz at Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Berit Bringedal at Institute for Studies of the Medical Profession, Benedicte Carlsen at Department of Health Promotion and Development/UoB, Astrid Grasdal at Department of economics/UoB, and Aud Karin Bjørn at ‘Mental Helse’.

Depression is a leading cause of suffering and disability in the Norwegian population.  However, little is known about patient trajectories through health care services and social security benefits.

The main objective of this research project is to investigate variations, pathways and experiences in GPs’ depression care in the framework of the Norwegian Regular General Practice (RGP) Scheme and the consequences for patients’ work participation.

Depression is a core challenge to society. Depressive disorders require person-centred, coordinated and prolonged health care services with particular attention to the risk of exclusion from work life. General practitioners (GPs) play a key role in this collaborative care, but it is not known whether the RGP Scheme ensures equity in the delivery of GPs’ depression care, and which GP services facilitate work participation among patients with depression.

The project follows two lines of inquiry:

• We will examine the effectiveness of the RGP Scheme to deliver equitable depression care facilitating work participation among patients with depression, including comparative analyses of GP services between Norway and the Netherlands. We have received permission to link several national health and welfare registries, and these fully anonymised registries provide the empirical base for the studies.

• We will investigate barriers and facilitators for GPs’ delivery of coordinated depression care. Here, crucial users such as patients and NAV counsellors will provide insight into the collaborative processes through focus group discussions, interviews, and a questionnaire to a national sample of GPs.

The project will provide new knowledge of the impact of the RGP Scheme for integrated and equitable pathways of GPs’ depression care and what pathways promote work participation. Moreover we will gain new knowledge about ways of organising services that are associated with better health care delivery, and this may inform future development of service organisation in Norway. We have appointed a user group with representatives from patient organisation and various health professionals that has an important role in planning and carrying out the project, and disseminating the results.

The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway.


Refugee Resilience. Associate Professor Ragnhild Hollekim

The project was established in 2016 as a cross-research group collaborative project in HEMIL. The research groups involved are MCVenues and BLI. Later, the SIPA group also joined. The project is led by Associate Professor Ragnhild Hollekim.

Related to the project, a network of practitioners has been established with representatives from two municipalities (Bergen and Voss), the civil society sector (Red Cross, EMPO), other academic/research institutions such the University of Applied Sciences in Western Norway, South-East Norway University College and the Institute for Social Research. The international part of the network includes representatives from Stirling University (Scotland), Western Washington University (USA), University College London (UK) and Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (The Netherlands)

In 2017 we conducted a pilot research project to establish how culture influences the ability of refugee children and youth to adapt to a new life in Norway. Building on the pilot study, we are now moving on to research young adult refugees’ transitions out of care and service frameworks into independent living. We have applied to the Norwegian Research Council for funding. 


Cultural Sensitivity in Parental Assistance to Families in Vulnerable Situations. (from December 2017) Associate Professor Ragnhild Bjørknes and researcher Andrea Margarita Baldomir


Strengthening children in high conflict families: a qualitative exploration of child and parent view on family life, coping and resiliency of interparental conflict (2017-2021) PhD Candidate Jan Stokkebekk

Jan Stokkebekk is a Clinical Social Worker and Family Therapist with a professional master degree in Systemic Family Therapy (MFSP). He is a candidate in family therapy at Bergen and Vicinity Family Counselling Office and is affiliated to the research group Child welfare, Equality and Social Inclusion at the Depart.of health promotion and development. He is exploring separated household families with parents in high and long term conflict participating in family therapy. The aim of his PhD project is to gain knowledge about children’s and parents’ experience of living in a conflicted two household families and to contribute to increase the quality of services to children in high conflict households.  Empirical material will be generated through semi-structured interviews of children and parents before and after 6 months of therapy.

The research questions are: 1. How do children experience their well-being, coping and resiliency of living in two households with parents in high conflict, told from a child and parents perspective?, 2. How do parents in high conflict view their coping and contribution to child and family resilience?, 3. How do children and parent`s, in conflicted families, experience being in a family therapy setting aimed to promote well-being and family resilience. The main supervisor is Professor Anette Christine Iversen, Dept. of Health promotion and development. Co-supervisors are Associate Professor Ragnhild Hollekim, Dept. of Health Promotion and Development, and Professor Ottar Ness, from NTNU. 


Experiences of migrant parents in Norway: negotiating parenting practices, values and expectations (2017-2021). PhD-candidate Raquel Herrero Arias

Raquel Herrero is a PhD candidate at the Dept. of health promotion and development, with a background in social work and anthropology and Masters in gender studies and social work with families and children. She is exploring how Southern European parents experience doing parenting in Norway. Her project seeks knowledge of how parents with immigrant background navigate the posible tensions between parenting practices, values and expectations that might come up when they encounter the Norwegian society and Welfare State system. Then, the study focuses on how Souther European parents negotiate, contest or develop new parenting practices when they do parenting in migrancy.The experiences of immigrant parents are thought to provide a frame to explore how individual and state’s responsibilities and authority are negotiated under transnational, individual, cultural, societal and structural levels.

This data has been collected through Focus Group Discussions and semi structured interviews with narrative approach with parents from Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece. The main supervisor is Associate Professor Ragnhild Hollekim, Dept. of health promotion and development. The cosupervisors are Professors Haldis Haukanes, dep. of health promotion and development, and Associate Professor Åse Vagli, University of Stavanger. 


Service Utilization and Quality of Life in Foster Youth (2016-2020). PhD-candidate Marit Larsen

Marit Larsen is a psychologist and PhD student at the Regional Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare (RKBU-Vest), Uni Research Health. The aim of the research project is to investigate which factors that are related to a positive development and quality of life in youth in foster care. Further, we investigate the service utilization of youth in foster care and their foster families, and if that help is experienced as helpful and suitable for their needs. Extrastiftelsen and Uni Research Health finances the project.

The PhD project is a part of the research project “Youth in Foster care”, a five year follow up study financed by the Norwegian Research Council, with duration from 2016-2020. The study include foster youth between 11-17 years old, in southeast Norway. The data collection was completed in April 2017. Over 300 youth participated, in addition to the foster parent of 330 youths. The PhD project utilizes both longitudinal data and cross sectional data from the research project. Main supervisor and project leader is Stine Lehmann, Researcher II at RKBU-Vest, Uni Research Health. Co-supervisors are Ragnhild Bjørknes, Associate Professor, HEMIL- centre, The faculty of psychology, UiB; Trine Myrvold, Research Director, the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research, HiOA; and Valborg Baste, Statistician, Uni Research Health.


A participatory inquiry of community based ‘meeting places’ for persons with mental health problems (2013-2017). PhD-candidate Lill Susann Ynnesdal Haugen 

Lill Susann Y. Haugen is a psychologist with a degree in professional studies in psychology, and a PhD-candidate at the Dept. of psychosocial science. Her project aims to illuminate and explore community based meeting places (‘day centers’) for persons with mental health problems, from a community psychology perspective.

The project is conducted in collaboration with co-researchers who have experience based knowledge from using meeting places. We have carried out two independent sets of focus group interviews, four with service users and three with staff from various centers. The discussions were guided by the research questions: a) How do users account for how they, and their experiences, are met in meeting places? b) How do staff in meeting places account for how they meet users and their experiences? The project aspires to produce practically relevant knowledge and to stimulate further processes that can hopefully benefit persons who use meeting places. The main supervisor is Prof. Norman Anderssen, Dep. of psychosocial science. The co-supervisors are Prof. Marit Borg, Buskerud and Vestfold University College, and Prof. Tor-Johan Ekeland, Volda University College. Mental Health Norway, Bergen, and The Norwegian Association of Youth Mental Health, Bergen, support this project.


Children in low-income families, school competence and resilience (2010-2017). PhD-candidate Anja Johnsen 

Anja Johnsen is a PhD candidate at the Dept. of health promotion and development. She has worked as a child welfare officer and has a master degree in social work. Her doctoral project examines the relationship between child poverty, risk and protective factors and school competence. The main focus is on protective factors, which can be changed, within the Norwegian or Nordic context.

Her data is from the case-control panel study Children’s Living Conditions - the impact of family income (Sandbæk & Pedersen, 2010). The data collection was conducted by the Central Statistics Bureau of Norway. The case sample consists of 1600 children and their families who had incomes below the EU’s poverty line in 2000 (<60% of median), while the control sample consists of 300 children and their families who represent a cross section of all families in Norway. The main supervisor is Professor Anette Christine Iversen Dept. of health promotion and development. The co-supervisors are associate Professor Mona Sandbæk, University College of Oslo and Akershus, and Principal Researcher Stein Atle Lie, Uni Research.


Completed projects and defended thesis

Secondary affiliation


Multicultural dilemmas in child welfare: Parents’ and adolescents’ experiences (2013-2017). PhD-candidate Marte Knag Fylkesnes

Marte Knag Fylkesnes is a PhD candidate at the Dept. of health promotion and development, with a background in social work and a master degree in child welfare. Key issues in her PhD project are clients’ perspectives and multicultural dilemmas in child welfare.

She explored the experiences of parents and adolescents with ethnic minority backgrounds, and her key research questions were: 1) How do adolescents with ethnic minority backgrounds experience contact with child welfare services? 2) How do parents with ethnic minority backgrounds experience contact with child welfare services? 3) What is cultural sensitivity, from the perspective of service users with ethnic minority backgrounds? Empirical material will be generated through semi structured interviews. A central aim is to increase the body of knowledge in this field and contribute to increasing the quality of services rendered to ethnic minority children (help and protection).

The main supervisor was Professor Anette Christine Iversen, Dept. of health promotion and development. Co-supervisors were associate Professor Ragnhild Bjørknes, Dept. of health promotion and development, and Professor Lennart Nygren, Umeå University.


Children at Risk and Their Families: Socialization and Early Childhood Intervention in Developmental Contexts. Multilevel Analyses of Systems’ Change. (Submitted: 1.9.2017) PhD candidate Andrea Margarita Baldomir


Gay-related name-calling at school (2011-2015). PhD-candidate Hilde Slaatten

Hilde Slaatten has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master of Philosophy in Health Promotion (MPhil). She is currently working as a PhD candidate at the Institute for Psychosocial Science (ISP) on a project concerning adolescents’ use of gay-related name-calling such as the use of words like ‘gay’, ‘faggot’, ‘lezzie’ etc. The aim of her project is to explore different predictors of such name-calling, and the consequences of being called these names. Data from the HBSC study with pupils in grade 6, 8, 10 and first year upper secondary (n=5820) and a convenience sample of pupils in grade 9 (n=916) are being used in this project. Her main supervisor is Professor Norman Anderssen (ISP), and her co-supervisor is associate Professor Jørn Hetland, ISP.


Negotiating children and parenthood (2008-2015). Assistant Professor  Ragnhild Hollekim 

Ragnhild Hollekim is an assistant professor and a PhD-candidate at the Dept. of health promotion and development, with a background in social work and a master degree in health promotion and health psychology. Based on an understanding that what it means to be a child and parenthood fluctuates and is influenced by time and cultural context, her PhD-project aimed to explore negotiations on and areas of tension concerning children and parenthood in two currently heavily debated and controversial empirical impact areas. Firstly, the Norwegian same-sex adoption rights debate and secondly, the Norwegian child protection services’ encounters with ethnic minority families.

Her empirical data is from a nation-wide study on Norwegian attitudes towards LGBT persons (2008) and selected news reports debating child protection services’ interventions in ethnic minority families. Professor Norman Anderssen, DPS, UiB is the principle supervisor, and Professor Agnes Andenæs, Department of psychology, University of Oslo, is co-supervisor.


Success factors for collaboration regarding children at risk (2014)

On 17 December 2014 Elisabeth Hesjedal defended her PhD thesis in a public examination according to the regulations of the Faculty of psychology, UiB. The thesis is written in Norwegian and is titled "Tverrprofesjonelt samarbeid mellom skule og barnevern: Kva kan støtte utsette barn og unge?".

Elisabeth Hesjedal was a PhD-candidate at the Department of Psychosocial science from 2010-2014. She is an associate professor at the Norwegian Teacher Academy (NLA) University College, in Special needs education. Her qualitative PhD project is on Successful inter-professional collaboration in multidisciplinary teams regarding children at risk. The focal point is inter-professional collaboration between primary and lower secondary schools and child welfare services. The central aim is to highlight facilitators for inter-professional collaboration between these two professional areas. Her main supervisor for the PhD project is Professor Hilde Hetland, Dept. of Psychosocial science; Co-supervisors are Professor Anette Christine Iversen, Dept. of health promotion and development, and associate Professor Hege H. Bye, Dept. of Psychosocial science.