Universiteit Leiden

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Marieke Adriaanse

Professor Behavioral Interventions in Population Health Management

Prof.dr. M.A. Adriaanse
+31 71 527 9500

Marieke is Professor ‘Behavioural Interventions in Population Health’. This is a combined chair of the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) and the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FSW) which is part of the interdisciplinary Population Health programme. Marieke works at the department of Public Health and Primary Care on the LUMC Campus The Hague and at the department of Health, Medical and Neuropsychology in Leiden.

More information about Marieke Adriaanse

Behavioural interventions in population health

Insight into the contextual and psychological mechanisms driving (un)healthy behaviour is necessary in order to develop effective strategies and interventions that promote healthy behaviour. Behavioral science therefore has a key role in the interdisciplinary approach to health promotion and disease prevention. I aim to apply my expertise on behaviour change as a central element in the research and teaching program of the interdisciplinary program  Population Health at the Health Campus The Hague


Four central themes in my research are:

  • Behavior change techniques and interventions for health promotion, in particular for people with low socio-economic status. A big part of my research involves developing and testing self-regulation strategies that aid individuals in their efforts to behave more healthily. An example of such a strategy is the use of cue-based planning (implementation intentions). In addition to self-regulation strategies I also study the use of nudging. Nudges are an umbrella term for strategies that alter the environment, or choice architecture, in such a way that it becomes more likely that individuals make a desired (healthy) choice. In addition to studying their effectiveness, I am also interested in understanding when nudges are considered acceptable and how nudging affects individuals’ autonomy. For all of these strategies, I am particularly interested in how and if they also work for people with low socio-economic status. Unfortunately, many interventions in the domain of health promotion are mainly effective for people with high socio-economic status, and result in increasing already existing health inequalities. In order to build better interventions that are equally or even more effective for people with low socio-economic status, we need to improve our understanding of how and when behavior change techniques (the building blocks of interventions) work in these populations.
  • Habit vs. intention. A large part of our behaviour is habitual. Habits can help us to maintain healthy behaviours when we are stressed or tired. On the other hand, habit formation also means that unhealthy behaviors that have become habits are particularly resistant to change. I study the interplay between deliberate (e.g., good intentions) and more automatic processes (habits) on behaviour and behaviour change.  I seek to better understand how habits are formed, how we can support people in breaking unwanted habits, and which factors and strategies promote healthy habit formation as a key to behavioral maintenance in patients and professionals. A very brief accessible lecture (in Dutch) for De Universiteit van Nederland in which I explain why habits can make it difficult for us to act on our good intentions can be found here.
  • Sustainability and health(care). There is a big overlap between goals related to promoting sustainable and healthy behaviors. For example, both generally require giving up immediate rewards for more abstract future rewards, both involve risk communication and changing existing habits and norms. With my research I am trying to apply insights regarding behavior change obtained in the health domain to sustainability, and, preferably, to design interventions that promote individual as well as planetary health. I also study how healthcare can become more sustainable. Increasing pressure on our natural living environment (e.g., due to climate change) will also  increase the pressure on healthcare in the future. However, the healthcare sector is  ironically also partly responsible for climate change and environmental pollution. Therefore, we are studying behavioral determinants and effective education programs and interventions for promoting sustainability in healthcare.
  • Behavior change of health care professionals. Ambitions related to prevention but also to sustainability mean that not only patients, but also health care professionals need to change their behavior. For example, General Practitioners are asked to prescribe fewer pills and focus more on lifestyle to prevent rather than treat disease. I study the determinants of this behavior change in health  care professionals as well as the effectiveness of self-regulation as well as contextual intervention to support health care professionals in these changes.


I teach in various courses at the Health, Medical and Neuropsychology department on topics such Health Promotion and Primary Prevention. At the LUMC campus The Hague I am a lecturer in the interdisciplinary Master Population Health Management.

Open science, recognition and rewards

I am an advocate for Open Science and an alternative approach to recognition and rewarding in academia.

Academic career

Marieke received her PhD (2010) in Health Psychology at Utrecht University. After that, she worked at Utrecht University as an Assistant Professor (2010-2015) and Associate Professor (2016-2021). Since May 2021 she is a Professor at Leiden University.

Professor Behavioral Interventions in Population Health Management

  • Faculteit Geneeskunde
  • Divisie 3
  • Public Health en Eerstelijnsgeneeskunde

Work address

Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP The Hague
Room number 3.20a


Professor Behavioural Interventions in Population Health Management

  • Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen
  • Instituut Psychologie
  • Gezondheids, Medische- Neuropsychologie

Work address

Pieter de la Court
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden
Room number 2A05



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