ZonMw funds social science research on Pandemic Preparedness

Over one and a half million for BePrepared consortium

A consortium (BePrepared) of 12 universities, including Maastricht University
(Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences and Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience), TNO, Pharos, Trimbos Institute and RIVM has received 1.6 million euros from ZonMw for social science research on how to properly prepare for upcoming pandemics. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, prevention measures were introduced to reduce corona transmission. This prevented diseases and deaths caused by corona. Various personal factors, social factors and environmental factors contributed to compliance or non-compliance with measures. In addition, measures, for example limiting social contacts, also had an impact on society, mental health and loneliness. The BePrepared consortium is investigating how to take these issues into account as best we can in upcoming infectious disease outbreaks.


Maastricht scientists in the BePrepared consortium are studying the various factors that play a role in prevention behaviour, such as whether or not to get vaccinated. They look at the environment and the person themselves. One important factor they are studying is the social network, the people around you. Nicole Dukers-Muijrers, affiliated with both Maastricht University (Department of Health Promotion) and the Living Lab Public Health Limburg, GGD Zuid Limburg: "It's great that with this research we can further strengthen the connection between infectious disease control and the social and behavioural sciences as a solid foundation for public health promotion". Rob Ruiter affiliated with the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience at Maastricht University: "This consortium offers a unique opportunity to bring behavioural sciences further to the forefront in thinking about how person-environmental factors interact in explaining human behaviour in times of health crisis. The research will provide important leads for framing future behavioural interventions."

Four research themes

The BePrepared research focuses on four themes.

  • What socio-psychological and environmental factors influence the behaviour people can adopt to prevent infectious diseases.
  • How resilience of citizens and communities can be strengthened, and citizens and organisations involved in policy.
  • How social science advice can be used in policy and government communication.
  • How research methodologies can be improved to model the effects of measures.

Toolkit for policymakers

Rik Crutzen (Department of Health Promotion): "This is a unique opportunity to position the expertise of the social and behavioural sciences in such a way that it can be made even better use of." Marijn de Bruin, affiliated with Radboudumc (IQ Healthcare) and RIVM lead applicant for the study: "We will review literature, analyse existing data, conduct questionnaires and experiments, as well as interview citizens and policy makers to learn how future pandemic policies can be better designed, adapted, and used in models to predict and control a pandemic. This will advance science and should also result in a better-filled toolbox for municipalities, GGDs, the RIVM and policymakers."

The ZonMw funding will initially run for one year.

For questions: beprepared.iqh@radboudumc.nl

@nicole dukers-muijrers @rac_ruiter @rik Crutzen @sarah stutterheim @lisanne steijvers @bas van der putte @danielle timmermans @vincent buskens @mirjam kretzschmar @marijn de bruin

Also read

  • What happens in the brain of someone with a psychiatric disorder? Eleonora Broggi, an alumna of the bachelor Biomedical Sciences at Maastricht University, is investigating brain patterns in people with autism spectrum disorder at King’s College London. Read how Eleonora uses Biomedical Sciences for...

  • Four Maastricht research teams are starting their projects funded with money from the Open Competition of grant provider ZonMw. In addition, a Nijmegen research team has been awarded, which includes Harro van Lente, professor of Science and Technology Studies at Maastricht University (UM).

  • Two researchers from Maastricht University (UM) have each received a Vici grant of € 1.5 million from the Dutch Research Council (NWO). Professor Chantal Nederkoorn (Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience) and Professor Lorenzo Moroni (MERLN Institute for Technology-Inspired Regenerative Medicine)...