The PROMENTA Research Center aims to provide answers to three central questions in mental health, well-being and drug use research:

  • How can we understand processes that lead to poor and good mental health?

  • How can such processes provide insight into development of social and geographical gradients in mental health?

  • How can we develop effective interventions in communities to address such processes and gradients?


PROMENTA will deliver highly warranted and applicable knowledge to promote wellbeing, prevent poor mental health and drug use problems, and reduce gradients in mental health.

We will use several large genetically informative longitudinal datasets and national registries comprising time series data, molecular genetic data, twin data, MRI data, and experience sampling data using mobile applications. Moreover, we make use of geodata, large-scale repeated cross-sectional survey data, and ethnographic field work. With relevant users and stakeholders, we will do intervention research on the municipality level.

By integrating methodological approaches from psychometrics, multilevel modelling, genetics, and econometrics, we will develop causal modeling strategies that are needed. PROMENTA will be the foundation for a long-term strategic commitment of a highly skilled research team including collaboration with several world leading experts.


The objectives of PROMENTA are:

  • identify genetic, neurocognitive, familial, and contextual levels of causal factors for a variety of mental health problems, well-being, and drug use
  • identify through which processes such factors lead to the development of mental health outcomes
  • identify socail gradients in mental health and examine through which mechanisms such gradients develop (social causation vs social selection)
  • identify geographical gradients in mental health and how such differences in the prevalence of mental health problems and drug use may be explained
  • provide novel knowledge about how interventions can be conducted to target challenges in municipalities to promote good mental health

Sub-project 4: Drug policy reform

The PROMENTA Research Center is organised in six research group, of which sub-project 4, Drug policy reform, is led by Willy Pedersen and Cathrine Holst, professors at the Department of Sociology and Human Geography.

The focus in this subproject will be on the use of psychoactive substances.

The previous global consensus on drug control policy is now rapidly fracturing, with countries moving in different directions. Norway as well has signaled a major shift, with “decriminalization” of use of illegal substances. Hence, much “crime” will be re-classified to “illness”.

In this subproject, we will identify drivers of the reform and analyze the consequences. To that effect, we will do the following:

  • Study the political process, with a focus on how bureaucratic politics and expertise have interplayed with political parties and civil society mobilization, using documentary research and interviews with involved actors. We will expand an ongoing study of the role of knowledge-based policy-making in the Nordic governance model, asking how new constellations of expertise shape problem definitions and policy tools. We will also investigate to what degree Norway will follow the so-called “Portuguese model”. 
  • Explore new models of street-level police and social work versus drug users and low-level dealers.
  • Monitor the reform’s impact on criminal careers by means of register data.
  • Closely monitor possible changes in substance use among ordinary youth in the wake of the reform by means of large-scale surveys and by a smartphone app where data are collected according to the Experience Sampling Methodology.    


PROMENTA was established in August 2019 and is formally part of the Department of Psychology at the University of Oslo, with strong organisational ties to the Department of Sociology and Human Geography, the National Institute of Public Health, and the University Center for Information Technology.


Half of the centre's funding is provided by the Norwegian Research Council. The total grant is NOK 499 994 000.The Department of Psychology, the Department of Sociology and Human Geography, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Leiden University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Sunne kommuner (the Norwegian WHO Healthy Cities network) conjointly provide the other half of PROMENTA's funding.


August 2019 - July 2024


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Published Aug. 5, 2019 6:01 PM - Last modified Mar. 3, 2022 10:39 AM