From the start of my research career, I have been infected with an interest in the field of infectious diseases. Later on, this interest expanded towards the field of One Health (wherein human, animal and planetary health are interrelated), mainly because of its immense complexity. The world of One Health is confronted with so called ‘wicked challenges’. It offers a unique field of research wherein many questions are still unanswered, calling for multidisciplinary research into the impact of infections on the behaviour of both patients and healthcare professionals. For example, how do we get all the involved disciplines to effectively work together? How do we get healthcare professionals and the general public to sustainably change their behaviour to increase health? And how can technology be used to support that? I am fascinated by the opportunities and challenges concerning behaviour change and decision-making processes in wicked problems, by the question how we can measure and evaluate them, and by the question how technology can contribute.
Common thread throughout all my research has been my ambition to cross borders. I have in my research crossed borders between disciplines (e.g. behavioural science and infectious diseases), between sectors (intertwining science, business and healthcare) and between nations (as infections -and to a growing extent also humans- are not hindered from travelling across borders).
In my work, I experienced that technologies have some characteristics that are highly suitable for this kind of work. Technologies can for example help to simultaneously overcome logistical challenges, provide a sense of ‘fun’ (especially in the case of serious games) that can help overcome reluctance to participate, offer a safe environment to try out uncertain behaviours, allow its users to experience the affective components of decision-making processes, and last but certainly not least it can engage its users.
Precondition for such technologies to be successful is that they are properly developed, implemented and evaluated. However, there is no one proper way to do so. In my research, I am striving to improve health and healthcare by first and foremost studying the involved stakeholders and their behaviour, and subsequently investigating methodologies to develop and evaluate successful (eHealth) interventions. One of the most exciting parts of my job is to apply innovative and mixed methodologies to realize creative solutions to real-world problems.