Four children smiling to the camera

Project: Young Kin – The mental wellbeing of children as next of kin

The Young kin project is about the mental wellbeing of children as next of kin (CANOK). That is children whose parent (or other co-habiting family member) have serious health issues (mental disorder or disability, serious physical illness or injury, are addicted to alcohol or other agents) or have died unexpectedly. The project unveils the life conditions of young children as next of kin (12-15 years old) and the impact on their mental wellbeing. It also co-develops and tests a psychosocial intervention for primary and secondary prevention of mental health issues usually linked with being children as next of kin.

Project information

Young Kin – The mental wellbeing of children as next of kin: Examining their life conditions and testing a psychosocial intervention
Project manager
Elizabeth Hanson
Other project members
Lennart Magnusson, Francesco Barbabella, Samantha Sinclair, Emilia Öhberg, Linnaeus University; Johanna Miranda Sköld, Swedish Family Care Competence Centre (Nka)
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University
Swedish Family Care Competence Centre (Nka)
Municipalities of Borås, Jönköping, Mullsjö, Oskarshamn, Uddevalla and Uppsala
Swedish Red Cross Trauma Centre, Skövde
Church of Sweden (Borås)
National Board of Health and Welfare Sweden
The Region of Kalmar County (Region Kalmar län)
Advisory and Ethics Board (AEB): a Board with eight international experts (from various European countries)
Eurocarers: European federation of non-profit and research organisations working on/for informal carers
Forte: Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare
Jan 1, 2023 – Dec 31, 2026
Health and Caring Sciences (Department of Health and Caring Sciences, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences)
Research group
The Informal Carers, Care and Caring research group – a research arm of the Nka

More about the project

CANOK are an under-investigated group of children/adolescents, who often experience challenging life situations (due to family members' frail conditions), mental health issues, and social inequalities. The project will shed light on prevalence, mental health issues and needs, and effective support for CANOK in Sweden.

The project aims to answer the following research questions:

  • What is the prevalence and distribution of the role of Children as next of kin (CANOK) in Sweden among different demographic, socio-economic, psychosocial, and health conditions?

  • What are CANOK’s life conditions and risk factors for their mental wellbeing?

  • Do these life conditions and risk factors differ for female compared to male CANOK?

  • What are the needs and preferences of mental health support among CANOK?
  • Is the project psychosocial intervention programme for CANOK effective and sustainable?

The project has a mixed-methods design which includes four sub-studies:

  1. The development of a theoretical and conceptual model through a scoping review.
  2. A survey questionnaire among children/adolescents aged 12-15 years (empirical observational study).
  3. A randomized controlled trial (RCT) testing a psychosocial intervention for CANOK (empirical intervention study).
  4. The organisation of periodical Blended Learning Networks (BLNs) with end users and stakeholders (participatory research method).

The project will be organised in five scientific work packages:

Work package 1: Theoretical and conceptual model of the CANOK role (sub-study 1: scoping review).
Work package 2: Survey design, data collection and analysis (sub-study 2: survey questionnaire).
Work package 3: Intervention design, implementation and evaluation (sub-study 3: RCT).
Work package 4: User and stakeholder engagement through a BLN and Advisory and Ethics Board (AEB) (sub-study 4: BLN).
Work package 5: Raising awareness and reaching societal impact.