Knowledge about psychological and social processes that enable or impede people’s adaptation to chronic somatic illness is highly necessary. We intend to resolve the psychological problems experienced by people with chronic somatic illness and their significant others.

While our ultimate goal is to develop adequate psychosocial care for people who experience difficulties in adapting to a chronic somatic illness, we first need to:

  • advance our understanding of basic psychological and social processes that enable or impede people’s adaptation to physical illness and the trajectories of change over time.
  • to understand, and provide a means for resolving, the psychological problems experienced by people with chronic somatic illness and those close to them.
Relevance

Improve psychosocial care

We are curious how people deal with a chronic or life-threatening disease or disorder Which psychological and social factors are involved? Which interventions can we develop to improve psychosocial care for patients and their next of kin in this process?

This is why we study a wide variety of diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disorders, diabetes and COPD. We also study specific treatments such as organ transplantation, with a particular focus on renal and liver transplantation.

The outcomes of adaptation to illness studied include quality of life, emotional wellbeing (e.g. psychological distress, depressive symptoms and positive affect), daily functioning and biomedical variables.

Young and old

We expect that the prevalence of chronic somatic diseases among older persons will rise as a result of improved medical treatments with corresponding increased survival, as well as demographic trends leaning towards an aging population.

While we have turned to studies of adolescents with health problems as well, our main focus remains on older patient populations and their significant others and caregivers.

  • An increasing number of older persons will have to live with a chronic disease, of which the long-term consequences are not yet fully understood. At the same time, older persons also experience a decline in physical, psychological and social resources that are needed to deal with chronic disease, as do their intimate partners on whom they rely.

    To design effective interventions for older people, it is important to identify this dual influence of psychological and social factors, and how it affects quality of life.

    Prof BJM Steverink has designed and is now implementing self-management interventions to assist older people in using their personal and social resources to maintain their wellbeing.