Having a chronic somatic condition can result in a variety of impairments in patients’ daily lives, including not only physical complaints such as pain, itch, and fatigue, but also problems of negative mood and impairments in social relationships. Next to disease characteristics, individual difference characteristics impact how patients function despite their disease. Such characteristics include personality (e.g., being optimistic vs. worrying) and self-management (e.g., self-efficacy, coping). Knowing which characteristics play a role in how patients deal with a particular disease allow for screening of patients at risk for impairments and for the development of tailored treatments that are focused on those topics most relevant for patients. Within our research, we study the potential impact of psychological characteristics on adjustment to chronic diseases and develop and evaluate screening instruments and (eHealth) interventions to help select and treat patients at risk for adjustment problems.
Having a chronic somatic condition can result in a variety of impairments in patients’ daily lives, including not only physical complaints such as pain, itch, and fatigue, but also problems of negative mood and impairments in social relationships. Many of these impairments are disease-generic, such as finding an optimal balance between activity and rest. Others are more disease-specific, such as the amount of social dependency upon others. Next to disease characteristics, individual difference characteristics impact how patients function despite their disease. Such characteristics include personality (e.g., optimism, worrying) and self-management (e.g., self-efficacy, coping). Both face-to-face and e-Health cognitive-behavioral treatments have shown to be effective in helping patients cope with limitations provided by their disease. Technological advancements have enabled better screening to characterize individuals’ needs and allowed more personalized interventions. Having both screening and treatment offered in an online format allows for tailored treatment to become available to a larger potential target group.
The aim of this research line is to provide more insight into disease-generic and disease-specific risk and resilience factors for adjustment to chronic diseases and to apply that knowledge to develop, evaluate, and implement tailored screening instruments and psychosocial interventions to optimize disease adjustment.
Study methods: By means of quantitative (e.g., self- or other-reported questionnaires, autonomic, hormonal, or immune measures) or qualitative (e.g., interviews, focus groups) research methods, insight is provided into the most relevant areas of functioning as well as related risk and resilience factors of specific disease groups. Based on that information, personalized screening instruments, with population-specific norm scores, are developed and used to screen patients who could benefit from personalized psychosocial interventions. These (eHealth) interventions include a variety of modules that can be tailored to the individual’s priorities, needs, and wishes and that are provided by an eCoach. To take the personalized character of the interventions into account, of which the effect necessarily will be blurred by using generic outcome assessments, personalized outcome assessment instruments are also developed and evaluated.
The different projects conducted on this theme, in which we develop, evaluate, and implement disease-generic internet-based cognitive-behavioral interventions in order to optimize tailored health care for patients with chronic somatic conditions, are described on the Projects page ‘e-Coach: Tailored cognitive-behavioral e-Health care for patients with chronic somatic conditions’.
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