28. November 2019

Funding for research projects on anxiety disorders in children

Kavli Trust awards 19.3 million NOK to research on child and adolescent mental health. Two new projects focusing on prevention of anxiety disorders are funded by The Kavli Trust Programme on Health Research.

“We are pleased to announce the recipients of the funding for 2019,” says Jan-Ole Hesselberg, Programme manager of The Kavli Trust Programme on Health Research.

“The scientific standard of the applications was high and the work conducted by our scientific committees has been invaluable. We started to develop The Kavli Trust Programme on Health Research for nearly three years ago, and we believe that we have managed to create a solid process for allocating research funds that will provide relevant research and new knowledge,” Hesselberg continues.

The call for proposals and the review process followed the current guidelines of the Kavli Trust Programme on Health Research.

Read more: Reducing avoidable waste in health research

Initially,  the Kavli Trust Strategic Scientific Committee identified a total of 35 evidence gaps based on searches in systematic reviews within the selected topics. These evidence gaps were then ranked by a user panel consisting of patients, carers and health professionals. Each user rated the five evidence gaps they considered to be the most important to answer, and the five gaps they considered to be of least importance.

The highest ranked evidence gaps were included in the 2019 call for proposals which was published in January this year. Thus, potential applicants had to plan and design research projects that aimed to provide new knowledge about one or more of these evidence gaps.

“This way we ensure that the research we fund will provide answers to the evidence gaps that are identified in the existing evidence base and prioritised by the relevant user groups,” says Ida Svege, senior advisor in The Kavli Trust Programme on Health Research.

29 pre-proposals were submitted before the deadline, out of which ten were invited to prepare and submit extended proposals. Out of these remaining ten, two research projects have received funding, both located in the UK.

Read more and see the list of all evidence gaps here: Call for proposals 2019 (closed)

By funding these two new projects, together with the three Swedish and two Norwegian projects that received funding through the program in 2017 and 2018, Kavli Trust will contribute to research that will provide new, important knowledge within child and adolescent mental health.

Read more: 17 million kroner allocated to research on mental health in children and young people

Funding from Kavli Trust for three research projects on child and adolescent mental health

“Kavli Trust congratulates everyone involved in both of the winning projects. We look forward to contributing in generating new knowledge and understanding of anxiety disorders, says general manager of Kavli Trust, Inger Elise Iversen.

She continues by referring to the Norwegian Directorate of Health, who points out that anxiety is one of the two most widespread mental disorders. The other being depression.

“Anxiety disorders in children have huge consequences and costs both for individuals affected and for society as a whole. These two projects can give us valuable knowledge about the treatment and prevention of anxiety disorders, which could benefit a lot of people, said Iversen.

Two projects have received funding

The two research projects address the same evidence gaps:

“What is the effect of interventions to prevent the onset of anxiety disorders in ‘at risk’ children and adolescents, and what are potential moderators and mediators of the effect?”

PROJECT: “Online parent intervention to prevent anxiety disorders in at-risk children” 

The study will investigate the effects of a guided, online intervention for parents of children with an increased risk of developing anxiety disorders.

The researchers will randomly allocate 60 schools (1080 at-risk children aged 4-7) to receive either the intervention or usual school practice, and assess whether the children are diagnosed with anxiety disorders, have symptoms of anxiety or have other behavioural problems after 12 months. They will evaluate the cost-benefit value of the interventions, and identify what factors may influence the outcome.

The study will provide knowledge about risk factors and their mechanisms, and if the intervention is proven to be effective, it could be used as a model for the identification and prevention of anxiety disorders.

Project owner: University of Oxford, Department of Experimental Psychology
Research lead: Cathy Creswell, Professor of Developmental Clinical Psychology
Collaborating institutions: University of Reading, School of Psychology and Clinical Language. University of Southampton, Department of Psychology. University of Exeter, Medical School.
Amount: NOK 12.5 million (approx. EUR 1.2 million)
(Total budget NOK 26.8 million)
Project duration: 2020 – 2030

PROJECT: “Preventing anxiety in the children of anxious parents”

This study will investigate whether a short online intervention for parents suffering from anxiety themselves can prevent the development of anxiety in their children. This intervention is based on a treatment which already has proven efficacy, however many parents do not get the opportunity to benefit from this treatment. Researchers now want to evaluate whether an online version of the same measure could give equally valuable results and increased participation.

The study will randomly allocate 1754 parents suffering from anxiety (who have children aged 2-11) to either the online intervention or wait list control. The researchers will then assess whether the children develop anxiety within six months. They will also carry out a component analysis of the intervention and identify factors that affect treatment results.

This study will evaluate and optimize a simple intervention which could potentially reduce anxiety in a large number of children.

Project owner: University of Sussex, School of Psychology
Research lead: Sam Cartwright-Hatton, Professor of Clinical Child Psychology
Collaborating institutions: University of Southampton, Department of Psychology. Brighton & Sussex Medical School.
Amount: NOK 6.8 million (approx. EUR 660.000)
(Total budget NOK 11.3 million)
Project duration: 2020-2023.


Jan-Ole Hesselberg, Head of Programme for The Kavli Trust Programme on Health Research
+47 900 71 673

Ida Svege, senior advisor for The Kavli Trust Programme on Health Research
+47 917 11 952

Inger Elise Iversen, general manager, Kavli Trust
+ 47 908 94 567

Methodology and process
The Kavli Trust Programme on Health Research is specifically designed to ensure that funding is allocated to research projects with the highest possible relevance and value to the users.

Choice of research area
Within the field of healthcare, an evaluation which compared disease burden with research funding shows that research on mental health is underfunded. On the basis of this, the board of Kavli Trust decided to dedicate the funds in the Kavli Trust Programme on Health Research to research projects concerning mental health in children and adolescents for a new three year period (2020-2022).

The focus on mental health is prolonged, but the age group is widened from 9-18 years to 0-18 years, to also include the youngest children. Within this decision the collaboration with Stiftelsen Dam will continue, and the programme will allocate NOK 60 million (EUR 6 million) over three years, from 2020-2022.

Identifying evidence gaps
A strategic scientific committee has carried out updated searches for systematic reviews in selected databases to identify significant evidence gaps in child and adolescent mental health. The committee identified 35 evidence gaps.

Prioritising evidence gaps
The user panel has ranked the 35 evidence gaps. The user panel consisted of patients, their carers and relevant health professionals.

Call for funding
The 2019 call for proposals included the eight evidence gaps that were ranked highest by the users, and applicants were encouraged to design studies addressing one or more of the selected evidence gaps.

Read more: 2019 call for proposals (closed)

Proposal procedure
The application process is a two step process. First, the quality of the 29 submitted pre-proposal was assessed by Kavli Trust Scientific Review Committee. The top ten pre-proposals were invited to develop and admit extended proposals. The review committee individually assessed the quality of the extended proposals, before they were discussed in a panel meeting. The final rank of the proposals, based on the review committee’s final scoring, served as a recommendation to the Kavli Trust board for which projects to fund.

Caption: Inger Elise Iversen, Ida Svege and Jan-Ole Hesselberg. Photo credits Anne Elisabeth Næss