Profiles

Lars Brännström

Universitetslektor

Visa sidan på svenska
Works at Department of Social Work
Telephone 08-16 48 59
Email lars.brannstrom@socarb.su.se
Visiting address Sveavägen 160, Sveaplan
Room 744
Postal address Institutionen för socialt arbete 106 91 Stockholm

About me

My academic identity lies in the intersection of social work, sociology, and social epidemiology. My work has largely evolved around the overall issue of inequality of opportunities, with an emphasis on how childhood conditions shape later life outcomes. Typically drawing on middle-range theories and longitudinal register-based data, I have combined variable-centred and person-centred methodological approaches to test theoretically informed hypotheses.

 

In broad terms, my scientific work can be divided into two (partly overlapping) areas of social policy research:

1) Studies of social, economic, and health inequalities, and

2) Effectiveness of social, behavioural, and educational interventions.

While the former ultimately seeks to further our understanding about the causes and correlates of social problems, the latter deals with the efficiency of various attempts to deal with them.

 

Studies of social, economic, and health inequalities

While my earlier work to a large extent focused on residential segregation with an emphasis on theoretical, empirical, and political questions in the multidisciplinary field of neighbourhood and school effects on individual outcomes, my overall research interest in how childhood conditions shape adult outcomes has increasingly been directed towards vulnerable populations such as child welfare clients.

 

Effectiveness of social, behavioural, and educational interventions

Over the years, I have been involved in issues related to evaluating the effectiveness of various interventions aiming at reducing the consequences of social problems. This interest has also included the use of research evidence in policy and practice decision-making. My research efforts not only concern the application of systematic review methodology when identifying, compiling and synthesizing research evidence to inform public policy and support practice, but also impact evaluations.

Publications

A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2017. Menghan Gao, Lars Brännström, Ylva Almquist B.. International Journal of Epidemiology

    Background: Children placed in out-of-home care (OHC) have exceedingly high rates of health problems. Their poor health tends to persist across adolescence and into young adulthood, resulting in increased risks of mortality. Yet, very little is known about this group’s mortality risks later in life. The aim of this study was to investigate whether OHC was associated with the risk of all-cause mortality across adulthood, and whether these risks varied across different placement characteristics. Moreover, the study addressed potential confounding by including two comparison groups with children who grew up under similarly adverse living conditions but did not experience placement.

    Methods: Data were derived from a 60-year follow-up of a Stockholm cohort born in 1953 (n = 15 048), of whom around 9% have had experiences of OHC. The associations between OHC and subsequent all-cause mortality were analysed by means of Cox’s proportional hazards regression models.

    Results: Individuals who were placed in OHC at any point during their formative years had increased mortality risks across ages 20 to 56 years. Elevated risk of mortality was particularly pronounced among those who were placed in adolescence and/or because of their own behaviours. Children who were exposed to OHC had increased risks of mortality also when compared with those who grew up under similar living conditions but did not experience placement.

    Conclusions: Children in OHC constitute a high-risk group for subsequent mortality. In order to narrow the mortality gap, interventions may need to monitor not only health aspects but also to target the cognitive and social development of these children.

  • 2016. Lars Brännström (et al.). Aggression and Violent Behavior 27, 30-41

    Objective

    Aggression Replacement Training (ART) is a multimodal program aiming at replacing antisocial behaviors by actively teaching desirable behaviors. The program is frequently used and has been provided within a wide variety of settings, but its effectiveness in its own right has not been addressed in previous reviews. This systematic review examines the effect of ART on antisocial behavior in young people and adults.

    Methods

    Published and unpublished literature was searched to identify randomized and non-randomized studies comparing ART for adults and youth with usual care, other interventions, or no intervention. Primary outcomes included recidivism in antisocial behavior, while secondary outcomes were related to social skills, anger management and moral reasoning.

    Findings

    This review identified 16 studies with considerable clinical and methodological diversity. The methodological quality and the post-intervention follow-up of the studies were limited. Almost half of the studies were conducted by researchers who have vested interests in the intervention.

    Conclusions

    There is an insufficient evidence-base to substantiate the hypothesis that ART has a positive impact on recidivism, self-control, social skills or moral development in adolescents and adults. Further research is warranted by independent investigators exploring the effects of ART on clearly-defined target groups using high standard evaluation designs.

  • 2016. Evelina Fridell Lif (et al.). British Journal of Social Work

    National register data were used in a longitudinal design to test two competing hy-potheses regarding links between cumulative exposure to childhood adversities andlater adverse outcomes, conceptualised as economic hardship in early adulthood,among more than 11,000 Swedish youths who had received the same in-home childwelfare intervention at ages two to five or at ages ten to thirteen. The cumulative-disadvantage perspective argues that the accumulation of childhood adversitiesincrease the likelihood of negative outcomes later in life. In contrast, thedisadvantage-saturation perspective suggests that the accumulation of childhood ad-versities is less consequential for initially disadvantaged individuals. Results from logis-tic regression analyses showed a pronounced positive association between theaccumulation of childhood adversities and economic hardship (measured as extensivemeans-tested social assistance recipiency) in early adulthood. After adjustments forsocio-economic confounders, the analyses showed that youth exposed to four or morechildhood adversities during childhood had two- to four-fold elevated odds of receiv-ing extensive social assistance compared to peers who had received the same inter-vention, but had no indications of exposure to childhood adversities. The results lendsupport to the relevance of accumulated childhood adversities for understandinglong-term outcomes in child welfare populations.

  • 2016. Lars Brännström (et al.). International Journal of Child Abuse & Neglect

    Little is known about developmental outcomes in midlife of persons who were placed in out-of-home care (OHC) in childhood. Utilizing longitudinal Swedish data from a cohort of more than 14,000 individuals who we can follow from birth (1953) to the age of 55 (2008), this study examines midlife trajectories of social, economic, and health-related disadvantages with a specific focus on the complexity, timing, and duration of disadvantage in individuals with and without childhood experience of OHC. Roughly half of the OHC alumni did not have disadvantaged outcomes in midlife. However, experience of OHC was associated with a two-fold risk for various forms of permanent disadvantage, net of confounding factors. Implications for research, policy, and practice are discussed.

  • 2016. Lars Brännström, Björn Trolldal, Martin Menke. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 70 (3), 226-230

    Background Spatial dependencies may influence the success of community action strategies to prevent and reduce harmful alcohol use. This study examined the effectiveness of a multicomponent Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) programme targeting on-licensed premises on police-recorded assaults in Swedish municipalities. It was expected that the implementation of the programme within any given municipality had an indirect effect by reducing violent assaults in adjacent municipalities.

    Methods This study was a natural experiment exploiting the temporal and spatial variation in the implementation of the RBS programme to predict change in the rate of violent assaults in all Swedish municipalities during 1996–2009 (n=288; T=14; N=4 032). Yearly police-recorded violent assaults per 100 000 inhabitants aged 15 and above committed on weekend nights were used as a dependent variable. Programme fidelity was identified by means of survey data. A semilogarithmic fixed-effects spatial panel regression model was used to estimate the direct, indirect and total effects of the programme.

    Results The direct, indirect and total effects were −1.8% (95% CI −4.4% to 0.8%), −5.8% (95% CI −11.5% to −0.1%) and −7.6% (95% CI −13.2% to −2.2%), respectively. Averaged over time and across all municipalities, implementing one additional programme component in all municipalities will thus reduce violent assaults in one typical municipality by nearly 8%.

    Conclusions The indirect effect of the programme was three times larger than its direct effect. Failing to account for such local spillover effects can result in a considerable underestimation of the programme's total impact and may lead to erroneous policy recommendations.

  • 2016. Hilma Forsman (et al.). International Journal of Child Abuse & Neglect 57, 61-71

    Research has shown that children in foster care are a high-risk group for adverse economic, social and health related outcomes in young adulthood. Children's poor school performance has been identified as a major risk factor for these poor later life outcomes. Aiming to support the design of effective intervention strategies, this study examines the hypothesized causal effect of foster children's poor school performance on subsequent psychosocial problems, here conceptualized as economic hardship, illicit drug use, and mental health problems, in young adulthood. Using the potential outcomes approach, longitudinal register data on more than 7500 Swedish foster children born 1973–1978 were analyzed by means of doubly robust treatment-effect estimators. The results show that poor school performance has a negative impact on later psychosocial problems net of observed background attributes and potential selection on unobservables, suggesting that the estimated effects allow for causal interpretations. Promotion of school performance may thus be a viable intervention path for policymakers and practitioners interested in improving foster children's overall life chances.

  • 2015. Lars Brännström, Bo Vinnerljung, Anders Hjern. Research on social work practice 25 (2), 190-200

    Objectives: To estimate the impacts of Sweden’s Contact Family/Person Program (CFPP) for older children on participants’ long-term outcomes related to mental health problems, illicit drug use, public welfare receipt, placement in out-of-home care, educational achievement, and offending. Method: We analyzed longitudinal register data on more than 1,000,000 individuals born between 1973 and 1984, including 6,386 individuals who entered CFPP at 10–13 years of age, with a follow-up until 2008. The program impact was estimated by means of propensity score matching. Results: Outcomes for those who had received the intervention were not better than that for matched peers who did not receive the intervention. Conclusions: The results did not find support for CFPP effectiveness in reducing risks of compromised long-term development in older children.

  • 2018. Anna Kahlmeter, Olof Bäckman, Lars Brännström. European Sociological Review 34 (1), 106-119

    Research has demonstrated that evictions primarily affect vulnerable populations. However, relatively little is known about the consequences eviction has, particularly regarding economic outcomes. Using comprehensive Swedish national register data on evictions in 2009, this study tests two competing hypotheses regarding to what extent an eviction affects subsequent economic hardship for an already disadvantaged group. The degree to which individuals rely on means-tested social assistance is used as an indicator of economic hardship. The cumulative disadvantage perspective predicts that additional strain will compound the economic hardship experienced by the group. In contrast, the disadvantage saturation perspective suggests that additional adversities may not add to economic hardship for disadvantaged individuals. Results from propensity score matching analyses show that, the year immediately after eviction, the degree of social assistance receipt was around 8 percentage points higher for the evicted group than for the matched comparison group. In the following 3 years, the degree of social assistance receipt continued to be significantly higher for those evicted compared to peers. The results lend support to the cumulative disadvantage perspective and suggest that—in the context of preventing evictions—policy measures such as assistance to repay rent arrears would be adequate to prevent further economic hardship.

  • 2018. Ylva B. Almquist, Lars Brännström. Social Indicators Research 136 (1), 225-245

    Children whose parents experience adverse social, economic, or health-related living conditions are more likely to face similar types of disadvantage in their adult life. However, a limitation of many earlier studies is that they do not account for the multidimensionality of the concept of living conditions, and that the child generation’s life courses are targeted as static and independent from the societal context in which they are imbedded. The current investigation addressed these aspects by focusing on the complexity, duration, and timing of disadvantage with regard to how adverse circumstances in the family of origin are associated with trajectories of social, economic, and health-related living conditions across adulthood. We also examined the role of educational attainment for these associations. Analyses were based a Swedish cohort born in 1953 (n = 14,294). We first conducted sequence analysis, followed by hierarchical cluster analysis, to generate ‘outcome profiles’, i.e. trajectories of adult disadvantage. Second, several indicators of adverse circumstances in childhood were analysed by means of multinominal regression analysis, showing the odds of ending up in the different trajectories. The results indicated that individuals who grew up under adverse conditions were more likely to experience disadvantaged social, economic, and health-related trajectories. This was particularly the case for trajectories characterised by a high degree of complexity, i.e. coexisting disadvantages, and—among men only—by a longer duration of disadvantage. Educational attainment was identified as a powerful mediator, suggesting that efforts to increase equal educational opportunity may be a way of reducing the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage.

Show all publications by Lars Brännström at Stockholm University

Last updated: September 25, 2018

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