Nice to meet you: Lieve Vonken

Evidence-based health tips for students

In the upcoming months, the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences will share tips on Instagram on how to live a healthier life. Not just a random collection, but tips based on actual research happening at our faculty. The brains behind this idea are Lieve Vonken and Gido Metz, PhD candidates at CAPHRI, the Care and Public Health Research Institute and researchers at the Department of Health Promotion. We talked to Lieve about their idea.

Curious about the tips? Follow us on Instagram for a healthier lifestyle!

Lieve and Gido attended the European Health Psychology Society congress. During a pre-conference workshop, Lieve and Gido, together with PhD candidates from Germany and Switzerland, worked on communicating their scientific research. 

As true health behaviour specialists, they found it impossible to reflect on science communication without a direct health promotion purpose. “We came up with a plan to work on communicating scientific work directly to students, while at the same time promoting health. That’s how we came up with evidence-based health tips for students. After the workshop, we were given a small UN grant to put our plan into practice.”

Finding the right teachable moment

“If I look back at my student life, it was a phase where you’re still receptive to change. This can be a perfect moment to provide health tips based on scientific research.” There is a lot of advice online. Especially for health students, it’s important to provide a scientific source as students here are taught to think critically about everything health-related. 

That advice will be copied to MUMC+, and the tips we’ll provide to students will also be shared with patients and their network, who might also be receptive to change because they are at that moment in life more occupied with their personal health. A visit to the hospital can serve as a ‘teachable moment’.  

A research project behind every tip

Lieve collected the tips based on research happening at the Department of Health Promotion. She asked her colleagues if they were willing to talk about their research projects and formulate advice for students. “Everyone was really excited to talk about their research, just not so much about having their picture taken for Instagram. But they’ll do it, for the cause of science.” 

In the upcoming months, expect tips on sleep, nutrition, self-directed learning and more. “These tips are formulated as advice to take small steps towards a healthy lifestyle, which is also proven effective in behavorial change and can help celebrate small successes.”