The ten Expert Groups:


1. Psychophysiology and health

This Expert Group unites researchers conducting psychophysiological research. Psychophysiological parameters - reflecting activity of the autonomic nervous system, the endocrine system, and/or the immune system - are examined in order to obtain a better insight into the different aspects of stress and emotions, and into the question whether exposure to different types of stressors and different emotions are accompanied by specific psychophysiological reaction patterns. In addition, the emphasis is on the putative psychophysiological mechanisms that mediate the effects of psychosocial factors on health. Finally, the possibilities and limitations to condition psychophysiological processes, as far as relevant for health, are explored.

Coordinator: Prof.dr. Lorenz van Doornen, Utrecht University;


2. Psychotrauma and grief

This Expert Group is concerned with the study of the impact, the processes of coping, and the various health outcomes concerning the exposure to and the aftermath of major life events, such as the loss of loved one (a spouse, a child), war, combat, disaster, acts of violence, and migration. Studies are characterized by a strong emphasis on normal coping with experiences of loss and trauma as well as an in-depth analysis of the causes of stagnation of these psychological processes (as manifested in posttraumatic stress disorder and complicated grief). Important issues in the research of the members of this expert group are among others: healthy and unhealthy outcomes of responses to loss and trauma, determinants of normal and disturbed adjustment and related health issues, and the development of relevant assessment procedures as well as effective interventions (counselling as well as psychotherapy). Both development of theory and application of acquired expertise in prevention and clinical practice are essential parts of the mission. The scientific work of this expert group is embedded in an intensive collaboration with various mental health institutes around the country.

Coordinator: Prof.dr. Rolf Kleber, Utrecht University;


3. Eating behavior: Self-regulation of visceral behaviors

The main concern in this Expert Group is the study of eating behavior in all its manifestations varying from emotional eating and other mild distortions of food intake to full-blown eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia nervosa. The Expert Group discusses both experimental and clinical approaches to the study of eating behavior as well as survey research, thereby highlighting both normal and abnormal aspects of the psychology of eating. The Expert Group discusses various theoretical approaches but is mostly concerned with the perspective of self-regulation to understand and explain why some people experience problems with controlling their eating. Topics of interest include: decision making about foods, the role of affect in eating, self-control and temptation in eating, psychological aspects of eating in interaction with biological and social components, innovative methods such as data collection by electronic food diaries and naturalistic experimental settings, eating in children and adolescents, and prevention of overweight.

Coordinator: Prof.dr. Denise de Ridder, Utrecht University;


4. Life span development

The focus in this Expert Group is on developmental, psychological and social changes in adulthood and late life in relation to health, well-being and other relevant indicators of quality of life. More specifically, the focus is on changes over time in life-span dynamics and personality development, the impact of major life events (starting and ending a working career, marriage, getting a child, moving, widowhood, physical decline) and the consequences of changes in the (micro/macro) social context of individuals. Basically, life span developmental theories and sociological life course models (cohorts, event history) are used to map out these changes over time, to understand them and their impact on quality of health/life. Insights in age-related changes and processes may contribute to the construction and focussing of policy programmes and intervention procedures to enhance health and well-being.

Coordinator: Prof.dr. Theo van Tilburg, VU University Amsterdam;


5. Work, stress, and health

Within this Expert Group, the focus is on the psychological processes in the development of work-related stress and illness, and on its positive counterpart engagement. Although studies on occupational stress and engagement have identified a number of psychosocial resources and risk factors, theoretical understanding of the underlying psychological processes is still limited. Research conducted by members of this Expert Group tries to fill this gap. Its starting points can be found in current theories in the domain of Work & Organizational psychology, Social psychology and Personality psychology. Topics include: work pressure, job stress, burnout, absenteeism, turnover, (dis)satisfaction and engagement. The program includes a variety of research methods, such as (longitudinal) field studies in different types of organizations, survey studies and experimental studies.

Coordinator: Dr. Pascale le Blanc, Utrecht University;


6. Planned health behavior change

This Expert Group focuses on the study of individual and environmental determinants of health behavior, and on the development, implementation and evaluation of health promotion interventions. The focus of this research program is on the primary prevention of illness (e.g., sexual risk behavior, substance use), on secondary prevention (e.g., early detection of illness such as hiv-testing behavior), and on tertiary prevention (e.g., adherence to medication). Behavioral and environmental interventions in these areas are developed in a systematic, evidence-based manner, using methods such as Intervention Mapping.

Coordinator: Dr. Rob Ruiter, Maastricht University;


7. Adjustment to chronic illness/Intervention research

Studies of members of this Expert Group focus on either adjustment to chronic illness and/or development and evaluation of theory-driven interventions. Self management of chronically ill patients can be considered the central theme of both research lines. Self management activities involve managing symptoms, treating the condition, coping with the physical and psychosocial consequences inherent in living with a chronic condition and making lifestyle changes. Because of the complex nature of many self management tasks, comprehensive self management support provided by healthcare professionals is essential. Research in this area includes theory development, experimental and longitudinal research concentrating on biological, psychological and social factors involved in the adaptation process, development and evaluation of psychological interventions, as well as tools and strategies to strengthen self management support provided by healthcare professionals.

Coordinators: Prof.dr. Adelita Ranchor, GroningenUniversity; & Dr. Mieke Rijken, NIVEL;


8. Patient-provider interaction (PPI)

The studies that are carried out by members of this Expert Group focus on communication in healthcare. Some concern the unravelling of specific communication behaviours during medical practice visits, others look at the effects of training health professionals on, for instance, the provision of tailored and patient-centered information or on communicating about medication adherence, or focus on developing and testing innovative ICT means to gather patient perspectives or to activate inactive patients. The improvement of the quality of provider-patient communication is a common theme for all. 

Coordinator: Prof.dr. Jozien Bensing, NIVEL;


9. Health related quality of life

This expert group has a focus on investigation of health-related quality of life measurement. Topics range from conceptualization and methodological questions to application of instruments in outcomes research and clinical practice. The expert group works in close cooperation with the Dutch study group for research on health status measurement.

Coordinator: Dr. H. van Stel, UMC Utrecht;;


10. Emotion regulation

The focus of this Expert Group is to provide applications to health psychology of recent developments in emotion research such as emotion regulation. This corresponds to a recent shift in health psychology research and interventions from a focus on cognitive factors to emotional ones. Emotion regulation is defined as all the processes through which the individual appraises, controls, and modifies his/her emotional responses in order to achieve his/her goals or to express an emotional behavior that is socially accepted. Concepts studied within this Expert Group include alexithymia, type D personality, affect intensity, cognitive reappraisal, and emotional suppression/expression. Emotion regulation theories are derived from social, personality, cognitive, and clinical psychology. Both automatic/implicit and controlled/explicit processes are investigated under the three components of the emotional response (physiological, behavioral-expressive and cognitive-experiential). A special focus is on the dysregulations that diseases can cause on the activation of these components (such as the effect of cognitive-experiential inhibition on physiological responses). The applications involve various domains, including health behavior (e.g., eating behaviors, alcohol abuse) as well as chronic diseases (e.g., asthma, cardiovascular disease, chronic pain, diabetes).

Coordinator: Prof.dr. Olivier Luminet, Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve;