Research in the Societal Participation & Health research program (SP&H) helps to maintain and improve societal participation of people with and without health problems. Due to societal developments such as the increasing pension age, people in the work force will become older and will have more health problems. Full societal participation is therefore becoming increasingly problematic for many people and this warrants pragmatic, evidence-based solutions.

Program support: Michiel Greidanus

Our mission is lifelong participation, for everyone, everywhere

Mission and goals

Participation in society is important to everyone. It provides purpose in life, structure and social contacts, it is linked to a better health and quality of life, and often delivers an income.

Our aim is to perform research aimed at improving societal participation and to prevent early exit from the societal participation. Special focus in our research is on vulnerable groups including groups with disabilities, chronic diseases, chronic health complaints or a low-socio economic position, workers with an occupational disease or other complex work-related health issues, and older workers.

Societal participation is defined as the opportunity for individuals to optimally participate in as many social roles as desired. The program does not only focus on paid work, but also on voluntary work, informal care giving, digital participation, and other forms of societal participation. We therefore study all forms of societal participation and their determinants. We develop and evaluate interventions to promote societal participation, such as to enhance stay at work or return to work, to prevent exit from work, and to stimulate voluntary work, informal care giving and digital participation.

We further aim to improve preventive and medical assessments in the occupational context, improve employee health guidance, study the aetiology and prevention of work-related disorders and occupational diseases, and promote health behaviours of workers. Finally, we study the (multidisciplinary) medical care focussed at work issues, provided by medical specialists, general physicians, occupational and insurance physicians.

Social impact and scientific quality are fundamental to the Societal Participation and Health program. We therefore actively pursue partnership with other programs, faculties, stakeholders and experts in multidisciplinary collaboration.  

Program leaders

Program council

The program leaders of the Societal Participation & Health research program chair the SP&H Program Council. This program council consist of a selection of senior researchers of the research program who meet regularly to implement or update the research program-specific strategy and to discuss anticipatory or reactive response to external events.

Program council members
Edwin Boezeman Sietske Tamminga
Christine Dedding Astrid de Wind
Jan Hoving

Junior council

The Societal Participation & Health research program has installed a SP&H Junior Council that provides program leaders with solicited and unsolicited advice and helps them with the organization of research program-specific activities or events.

Junior council members
Carlien Straat Donny Kreuger
Lima Emal

Research program members