HCR.20.001 – SoNet4Health: Employing social networks for individual health and healthy communities.

Route: Health care research, sickness prevention and treatment

Cluster question: 072 How do a healthy lifestyle and wholesome habits promote good health and prevent illness?

By 2030, 7 million people in the Netherlands will suffer from chronic diseases, making prevention a national priority. To realize prevention, care and cure professionals need to include non-medical intervention strategies, and citizens and patients need to make and sustain a healthy lifestyle change. While these are not easy tasks, they can be achievable when employing people’s social networks, which are all social relationships (face-to-face, online) that people have. Social networks are about (preventing) loneliness, (promoting) participation, (self-)care, diversity of relations, and exchange of support/knowledge/resources. Independent of biological, lifestyle, and socioeconomic health determinants, the composition of one’s social network strongly affects her/his wellbeing and health, disease and mortality. In our program, we develop, evaluate, and implement evidence-based preventive (health promotion) interventions employing social networks in various Dutch care and cure settings. We use social network as (1) health indicator for individuals (e.g. non-medical patient management) and the community (e.g. policy informing, health-resource allocation), (2) as a target itself to improve impact and e.g. combat loneliness, and (3) as vehicle for prevention (e.g. spread of information and behaviors/peers for support). We analyze existing empirical datasets to inform preventive intervention development and quantify social network impacts on several chronic diseases for results generalizable to the concept of health. We involve citizens, patients, (in)formal care givers, and communities, for results applicable to the whole of society. By generating scientific knowledge on how to employ social networks to prevent chronic diseases, providing practical prevention tools for policy and practice, and helping people to improve their networks and attain a healthy lifestyle, our project provides the framework to accomplish our goal.


Chronic non-communicable diseases, Loneliness, Prevention, Public Health, Social network

Other organisations

and seeral Public Health Services (GGDs)., Burgerkracht, CBS, DiabetesFonds, HAN University of Applied Sciences, Hartstichting, Movisie, Radboud Medical Center (RUMC), Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM), Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU), Zuyd University of Applied Sciences


Organisation University of Maastricht (UM)
Name Dr. N.H.T.M. (Nicole) Dukers-Muijrers
E-mail nicole.dukers@ggdzl.nl
Website https://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/htm.dukers-muijrers