Tuesday, January 27, 2009

International Research on Risk Perception in the Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases

To control new infectious diseases, such as SARS or avian flu, the identification of the organisms, the infectivity, development of vaccines and therapies, contact tracing, isolation and screening are all of great importance. Many of these issues are partly dependent on human behaviours. For example, the success of prevention of infectivity (e.g. engaging in precautionary behaviours such as wearing masks, hand hygiene, isolation etc.), vaccination, contact tracing and population screening are all more or less dependent on whether people at risk comply with behavioural recommendations. Especially in the early phases of a possible epidemic, compliance to precautionary behaviours among the populations at risk is often the only means of prevention of a further spread of the disease. However, very little research has been conducted to explore the determinants of behavioural responses to infectious
disease outbreaks [1, 2].
A special series of the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine is dedicated to this research. This month the first three papers in this series were published ‘on line’ by the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. Together with my co-authors Drs. Arja Aro and Jan Hendrik Richardus I wrote an introduction to the series.
On February 11, Onno de Zwart, co-director of the municipal health service of the Rotterdam area, will defend his doctoral thesis which further explored the associations between risk perceptions and emerging infectious diseases.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A one day retreat to discuss the strategic agenda for the CaRe research school

On Friday January 23 the annual CaRe ‘retreat’ was held in Maastricht, in conjunction with the annual PhD student days of this research school. CaRe (The Netherlands School of Primary Care Research) was established as a research school and recognized by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1995. The participating institutes are the School for Public Health and Primary Care (CAPHRI) of Maastricht University, the Centre for Evidence Based Practice (NCEBP) of the University Medical Centre Radboud in Nijmegen, the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research (EMGO+) of the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam and the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL) in Utrecht.
Last Friday the directorates of the participating partners, the Board of CaRe, and a selection of senior researchers met in Maastricht to discuss the school’s mission and strategic priorities.
Led by the CaRe director Prof. Guy Widdershoven, the participants discussed and agreed that CaRe should further develop itself as a ‘network’ and lobby organization, facilitating collaborations, exchange and joint education, master class and expertise development programs, as well as joint actions to stress and endorse the importance of public health and primary care research and development for population health in the Netherlands and abroad. Specific strategic actions were explored that will be further detailed and disseminated to pursue the CaRe agenda.