FEATURE6 June 2018

How Iceland uses research to see problems ahead

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Europe Features Impact Trends Youth

Established 20 years ago to tackle adolescent substance misuse, the Youth in Iceland research programme is today identifying new challenges for policy-makers and has become a blueprint for intervention initiatives across the world. By Katie McQuater


Youth in Iceland, the ongoing longitudinal research project surveying secondary school students, is credited with reducing cigarette smoking, drinking and cannabis use among the country’s young people since 1997.

Though some of its content has developed over the years, the priorities have remained broadly the same: to advance and distribute knowledge on the social factors determining the health, wellbeing and behaviour of young people; to enhance the quality of life of young people; and to create a venue for collaboration of scholars, specifically for the education and training of young scholars.

As well as functioning as continuous monitoring tools to help local communities direct their work on young people’s positive development, the surveys are also shining a light on the new risk and protective factors that have emerged over time. 

The latest survey, for instance, found that the use of e-cigarettes in Iceland has been rising steeply, although there has not been a reversal in tobacco use, which remains low. ...