Successful 3rd Annual Meeting Amsterdam Public Health 2018

© Laura Ponchel photography

On November 22 2018, about 425 researchers and relations in the field of public health gathered for the 3rd Annual Meeting of the Amsterdam Public Health research institute (APH). The meeting was held in the Johan Cruijff ArenA in Amsterdam.

Morning program

The morning program was hosted by science journalist Geert Maarse. After a warm welcome from the APH director Professor Martine de Bruijne, presentations of three esteemed international keynote speakers followed. First, Professor Gerd Kortuem introduced us to the Internet of Things and the solutions it offers to patients and citizens from an industrial design perspective. Second, Robert Grant, Data Sherpa and founder of BayesCamp and Dataviz, discussed concepts and mixed methods to investigate complex systems, including the role of big data, and what distinguishes high quality from low quality research. Finally, Professor Heleen Riper presented the results from a large European project on internet based treatment of depression and smartphone based ecologic momentary assessment. This was followed by a panel discussion on future directions for research on eHealth with the three keynote speakers and other experts from various backgrounds, Professor Dick Willems and Professor Danielle Timmermans.

© Laura Ponchel photography

The day offered many opportunities for new and experienced researchers to meet and greet many old and new colleagues, and to forge new collaborations. During the lunch break, stands were set up with our business developer, and the chairs and some members of the APH Scientific Quality committee, the APH Educational Quality Committee and the APH Junior councils, to discuss questions and ideas.

APH Poster Award 2018

© Laura Ponchel photography

During the coffee & lunch break over 100 posters were presented in moderated sessions by junior and mid-career researchers embedded in one of the eight research programs. It was a close call between the winner and the runner-up. Ultimately, Michiel Greidanus was chosen as the winner of the APH Poster Award 2018 as he had delivered an outstanding pitch. The award ceremony was presented by APH vicedirector Dr Dionne Kringos


Michiel Greidanus (Societal Participation & Health)

Poster title: Successful return-to-work of employees diagnosed with cancer: development of a weighted outcome measure that incorporates perspectives of employees.

1st runner up

Tessa Blanken (Mental Health)
Poster title: Introducing Network Intervention Analysis: A technique to investigate sequential, symptom-specific treatment effects demonstrated in the treatment of co-occurring insomnia and depression symptoms.

2nd runner up

Matthijs van der Zee (Personalized Medicine)

Poster title: Tracking of Voluntary Exercise Behavior over the Lifespan

Afternoon parallel program sessions

In the afternoon, the eight research programs organized attractive sessions on a broad range of APH research topics.

Health Behaviors & Chronic Diseases

The topic of the Health Behaviors & Chronic Diseases afternoon session concerned the introduction of the ‘combined lifestyle intervention’ (in Dutch: ‘gecombineerde leefstijlinterventie’ or ‘GLI’) in Dutch basic healthcare. During the session, different experts from the field elaborated on this new development and the process of getting lifestyle interventions recognized as a GLI. Among the them were experts from the RIVM Center for Healthy Living, the National Health Care Institute, and the Center for Effective Lifestyle Interventions. Afterwards, the participants discussed what the introduction of this measure means for HBCD, and what opportunities it might offer for future (implementation) research and intervention development.

Mental Health

Program leaders Dr Jos Bosch and Prof. Brenda Penninx shared the first results of a VOS viewer analysis of all Mental Health publications, which nicely showed the strengthening network between our researchers and also our international strength in important Mental Health themes. This was followed by an interactive quiz in Kahoot, won by Dr Femke Lamers. Dr Lynn Boschloo showed some of her work on network analyses of symptoms in depression and anxiety. Dr Jeroen Ruwaard presented the handbook on EMA, which is finished and can be downloaded. After that, Prof. Claudi Bockting pleaded for a complexity approach for depression to create new target points for prevention and treatment. Prof. Aartjan Beekman, who will take over Brenda’s role as program leader from now on, presented his idea to bring together research, prevention and treatment in one Amsterdam Center for Mental Health.

Societal Participation & Health

The Societal Health & Participation program organized a session on measuring societal participation. Dr Caroline Terwee presented an interesting method for the development, analysis and scoring of questionnaires based on Item Response Theory methods called Computerized Adaptive Test (CAT). Using this method, questionnaires become more relevant and shorter, and have better measurement properties than traditional questionnaires. In the second part of the session, Dr Sietske Tamminga showed the results of the VUmc-AMC project of our program on improving the measurement of societal participation. The program was closed with a structured brainstorm session by the whole audience on choosing new items that measure societal participation. Overall, we experienced an interesting, interactive and inspiring afternoon.

Global Health

Under the title “The demise of a paradigm?” the Global Health program discussed alternatives for traditional (cluster-)randomized trials for the evaluation of complex health interventions in real-life settings. Novel approaches to RCTs (Frank van Leth, Dpt. Global Health AMC) include adaptive designs, pseudo-randomized and stepped-wedge designs, and mimicking of RCTs within observational datasets. The field of economics (Menno Pradhan, Economics VU/UVA) applies various non-randomized comparative designs, including difference-in-difference and discontinuity, in a broader impact evaluation framework. An ongoing systematic review (Teun Zuiderent-Jerak, Athena Institute VU) shows various qualitative methodologies. We ended with a lively discussion of the applicability of the various approaches.

Aging & Later Life

How to connect your research with the working field?

During the Aging & Later Life session, we addressed the following question: how to connect your research with daily practice? Several partners in our field shared their experiences with regard to research: Dr Krijn van Beek from the Ben Sajet center, Lizette Wattel, MSc, from the UNO-VUmc, Prof. Arnoud Verhoeff from the Municipality of Amsterdam and GGD, and Prof. Raoul Engelbert from the Amsterdam University of Applied Science (HvA). During the second part there was a choice of three workshops during which the presenters made the audience think about how to make sure that the results of your research are structurally implemented in the working field or education programs and how you can already take this into account while conducting your research. Altogether, we had a very interesting and inspiring session!

Quality of Care

Consultation of the future

Maarten Konigs & Michèle van Vugt

In the academic setting, the medical consultation will be more and more complex in the future. While a high quality of care is demanded to be the norm, patients will be affected by many different diseases, for which multidisciplinary approach might be needed. There is a need to be able to collaborate using new systems, being in alliances and being in a different environment.

Maarten Konigs (Holland Brading Group) and program leader Prof. Michèle van Vugt, gave in an interactive manner some tools and explained how changes can be implemented while collaborating with many different partners. An anthropological view of collaboration in a multidisciplinary way was the new approach. “What starters (nerds) and We starters (sheepdogs)”. Open innovation is a profession ( There is an innovation funnel. Put partners in a smooth process. Intelligent alliances are based on values and there are different criteria for a good profile. And there is a need to watch out for: Bubble chat (repeating stories about ridiculousness others), Bias, Cognitive stagnation (dilemma, paradox, splits etc.), Linear addiction (this way or that, not both), Fear as your counselor, Contra intuitive approach during a long time, Radicalization (as in ‘we’ versus ‘they’), Group-thinking, Lower your aspiration for high quality standards.

Personalized Medicine

Though the ‘actual’ session did not start until after the lunch break, the visitors of the APH Annual Meeting were able to receive a personalized future vision from a fortune teller. This was made possible by the Junior Board of APH PM during lunch. After this playful interruption, we were given the opportunity to attend a broad spectrum of presentations in the afternoon. After prof. Dick Willems delivered his opening, Mirjam Fransen and Janine Suurmond explained a research idea in the context of care around the pregnancy and birth for women who cannot easily find their way to this. Additionally, Pierre Bet explained the ins and outs of pharmacogenetics in Amsterdam UMC. Hereafter, no less than eight fantastic pecha kucha’s were presented by junior researchers. The travel grant to be won in this endeavor was awarded to Jelle Himmelreich. In the session, time was also made available to hear what expectations the audience held with regards to the new Junior Board. After the closing by prof. Meike Bartels, this highly energetic and versatile PM-session came to an end.


The session of the Metholology program had an outreach character. It showcased three in-house projects that involved big data. More specifically, high-dimensional data, which is a special instance of big data, where the number of traits or covariates exceeds the sample size. The standard statistical toolbox cannot deal with such data. Each speaker tackled this problem differently and for different purposes. Dr Carel Peeters pointed out, using a modification of standard statistical machinery, how molecular networks may be learned from such data. Dr Martijn Schut revealed the history and secrets of deep-learning and how it helped to decipher the scribbles of medical doctors. Finally, Mirrelijn van Nee forged a compromise between the average and the specific to improve the prediction of beer tasting. Stimulated by the football canteen atmosphere of the room that housed the session the audience, over 60 souls strong, was then ripe to put Mirrelijn van Nee’s suggestions in to practice during the drinks that followed.


At the end of the day, a vivid presentation was delivered with football supporters of the EuroFIT study. Thanks to the overwhelming attendance and active participation from the beginning until the end of the day, the Annual Meeting was inspiring and a great success!

We look forward to meeting you again next year!

© Laura Ponchel photography

More photo's of the Annual meeting