The world could learn from the "Icelandic Model"


For the last week, Dr. Inga Dora Sigfusdottir, professor at RU's Psychology Department and Columbia University, has reached somewhat of what we might call "world fame". She spearheads scientific work in Iceland which is the basis of a continuous evidence-based primary prevention approach, based on collected data, that has seen Iceland reach excellent results in the battle agains teenage drinking, smoking and drug abuse. The "Icelandic Model", called Youth in Europe, is now used with good results throughout the continent.

The results in Iceland have been written about in various online magazines and journals throughout the world since an article was published in Mosaic on January 17th. The message is clear - the world could learn a a whole lot from two decades of Icelandic research:

Iceland knows how to stop teen substance abuse but the rest of the world isn't listening

Inga Dóra Sigfúsdóttir

For over twenty years, Dr. Sigfusdottir has been gathering masses of data regarding the lives and wellbeing of Icelandic teenagers. The prevention model takes into account applied methods such as, on a city level, a pre-paid leisure time card to participate in formal, structured youth activities and on a national level media campaigns aimed at discouraging adolescent alcohol use and cigarette smoking. Parents have been advised to simply spend more time with their children, an effort has been made to postpone the onset of alcohol use until 18 years of age, and increasing adolescent participation in structured and organized youth activities supervised by adults. The aim has been to not tell the teenagers not to drink but to change their environment so that they don't want to.

In 2015, Dr. Sigfusdottir was selected to receive the prestigious ERC Grant of 2 million Euros from the European Research Council (ERC).

For the last few weeks, new alarming results have been analysed by Dr. Sigfusdottir and her team that show a corrolation between lack of sleep, use of social media and anxiety in teenage girls in Iceland."This will be our new battle", she said during a lecture on the subject at RU today.