Socio-Medical Sciences (SMS)

The Socio-Medical Sciences research group explores issues of quality and effectiveness of care for various vulnerable groups. We are facing rising numbers of chronically ill patients, people with physical disability and vulnerable elderly, which trend is associated with increasingly larger socioeconomic and ethnic health disparities. These groups have multi-faceted and complex needs, which can only be met by an approach that goes beyond traditional, acute care. Insights from the areas of public health, epidemiology, medical sociology and health psychology are valuable in this respect. We can use them to examine if recent efforts to enhance health and well-being have actually resulted in continual, coordinated care and support. Integrated approaches, such as ‘disease management’ or local care networks that bring together health care delivery, social services, and informal care, change the roles of both patients and professionals. Patients’ changing lifestyles and self- management competency present an important research theme in this respect, as well as the role of professionals in this process.

The research group’s focus, therefore, is not only on the patient but also on care provision by professionals and the changing cooperation between professionals. Regarding the latter, research efforts are directed at multidisciplinary cooperation within hospitals, in chronic care, in primary care and in boundary-transcending cooperatives, for example consisting of health care and well-being organizations and municipal bodies. Much of this research is conducted within the framework of a large number of evaluations of complex interventions.

The research group provides education in all programmes offered by Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM), addressing socio-medical themes such as patient’ experiences, quality of care, accessibility and the use of services (primary care, hospital, chronic care, well-being). Other topics addressed include the consequences of care provision and care reform for health and well-being of vulnerable groups (including vulnerable elderly, youth with chronic conditions, people with an intellectual disability, the chronically ill, and low socioeconomic status groups). Methodological knowledge is an important area of attention as well, with topics such as instrument development and the application of advanced methods and techniques. Close partnerships have been established with the research schools Netherlands Institute or Health Sciences (NIHES) and Interuniversity Centre for Social Science Theory and Methodology (ICS).