Viveca Östberg

Viveca Östberg


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Works at Department of Public Health Sciences
Telephone 08-16 26 50
Visiting address Sveavägen 160, Sveaplan
Room 540
Postal address Institutionen för folkhälsovetenskap 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Viveca Östberg is a sociologist focussing on health among young people. Her research deals with the influence of social structure and social conditions on health among children and youth. She has published studies on health inequalities by parental education, social class and income. Other studies concern the association between school conditions and health complaints. Here, the focus has been on school as a work environment and as a social arena (e.g. status hierarchies, friendship, bullying). Another area of interest has been the so-called Nordic welfare research where two important questions have been how children's welfare can be described and how information can be collected. In line with this she has worked with the development of Swedish welfare surveys for children and adolescents (Child-LNU and Child-ULF) where representative samples in the ages 10-18 years have been interviewed about their living conditions.


A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2017. Viveca Östberg, Bitte Modin, Sara Låftman Brolin. Journal of School Violence

    Being bullied at school is strongly related to psychological health complaints at the same time point. Studies have also found long-term associations, but few have combined a prospective design with children’s own reports on bullying, and conducted gender-specific analyses. The present study assesses health consequences in young adulthood of self-reported victimization in adolescence using data from Child-LNU in 2000 and the follow-up in 2010 (including 63% of the original sample, n = 813). At ages 10–18 a clear cross-sectional association was found for both girls and boys. Among girls, exposure to bullying also predicted psychological complaints 10 years later, at ages 20–28 (OR = 2.86). This association was not explained by socioeconomic circumstances, neither in adolescence nor in young adulthood. Instead, it can partly be understood as victimization, among adolescent girls, being associated with negative self-image and psychological health as well as with deficits in social resources more generally.

  • 2015. Viveca Östberg (et al.). Child Indicators Research 8 (2), 403-423

    In many Western countries adolescents, especially girls, report high levels of stress and stress-related health complaints. In this study we investigate the concept of stress in a group of 14-15 year-olds (grade 8 in two Stockholm schools) using a multiple methods approach. The aim is to analyse stress, and gender differences in stress, as indicated by a measure of perceived stress (questionnaires, n = 212), the diurnal variation in the biomarker cortisol (saliva samples, n = 108) and the students' own accounts of stress (semi-structured interviews, n = 49). The results were generated within the traditional framework of each method and integrated at the point of interpretation. The hypothesis that adolescent girls experience more stress than boys was confirmed by all methods used. In the questionnaire, the most commonly experienced aspects of perceived stress were the same among girls and boys, but girls consistently reported higher frequencies. The saliva samples showed that girls had greater cortisol output in the morning. In the individual semi-structured interviews, girls and boys discussed stress in similar ways but both acknowledged a gender gap to the disadvantage of girls. The results as a whole suggests an interpretation of gender differences that focuses girls' attitudes, perceived expectations and coping strategies in relation to school performance, with their focus on achievement, marks, hard work, and worries about the future. The findings point to a need of an increased awareness about the role of perceived expectations in the stress process, and that these expectations and their impact on stress may differ by the gender of the student.

  • 2010. Jan O. Jonsson, Viveca Östberg. Child Indicators Research 3 (1), 47-64

    We propose a strategy for studying the level of living of young people based on survey information from children themselves, combined with information from parents and administrative records. In this way, children become the prime informants of their own conditions, at the same time as we get reliable information on their family context, such as the household economy and parental characteristics, from other sources. We base our over-arching theoretical idea on a definition of level of living in terms of command over resources in several areas of life; resources with which children can actively shape their own lives, according to age and maturity. The focus on scope of action leads us to prefer descriptive rather than evaluative indicators. We define empirical indicators along eight broad dimensions of the level of living of young people which we use in a survey of 10–18-year-olds, the Swedish Child-LNU (n = 1,304, response rate = 76,6%), connected to the Level-of-Living Survey, LNU2000, done on adults, i.e., the children’s parents. We report descriptive results showing that the overall level of living of young people in Sweden is very high, but that children to lone parents and immigrants lag behind on some indicators. A worry for the future is the relatively high incidence of poor psychological well-being and psychosomatic problems.

  • 2008. Viveca Östberg, Bitte Modin. Social Science and Medicine 66, 835-848
Show all publications by Viveca Östberg at Stockholm University


Last updated: January 10, 2019

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