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FEB Researchers want to help solve COVID-19 problems in healthcare

Date:22 April 2021
Assistant professor Joost van de Brake
Assistant professor Joost van de Brake

Last year, several FEB researchers received a grant from ZonMW (the Dutch organization for Healthcare Research and Innovation) to look at specific problems in the healthcare system that occurred during the covid-19 pandemic. One of the projectleaders is Joost van de Brake and he introduces his  new project and what the results can mean for especially the healthcare system.

What is the main focus of your project?

”In our project, we look at the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on the psychosocial and emotional well-being of hospital staff. Questions we hope to answer are: Which factors contribute to this well-being? And what can a hospital do to make sure that their staff is more equipped to deal with this or another crisis?

It is very important for our society that hospital workers are able to function well. The goal of this project is to map the effect covid-19 has on the psychosocial and emotional well-being of hospital staff as well as find out how we can diminish the negative effects and possibly, enforce the positive ones.”

How are you going to set up this research? And with whom?

“We received a 200K grant from ZonMw and along with fellow researchers dr. Peter Essens, drs. Maxim Laurijssen and prof. Gerben van der Vegt, we will work together with a large hospital in the south of the Netherlands. For two years, during our research, hospital staff can share their experiences via a questionnaire with statements and open questions. They can tell us which obstructions and challenges they went through. Our expectation is that the more the current crisis is seen as a positive challenge (i.e., rather than a hindrance), the more an employee is capable of handling everything in the long-term.

Team processes may also influence whether an employee experiences the crisis as a challenge or a hindrance. If the communication within a team is open, free and honest, team members are less likely to experience the covid-19 pandemic as a hindrance. Finally, we will also look at whether the demographic diversity of a team influences the impact of covid-19 on employees. For instance, a younger employee might experience more pressure if older co-workers (who are more likely to experience severe complications from covid-19) have dropped out.”

Can any hospitals participate?

“Yes, other hospitals can certainly participate. They can get in touch with us and we can discuss possibilities.”

Wat results can we expect?

“The results of the research will be shared with Dutch hospitals. We will develop a website that lists key recommendation on how to make their staff members more resilient during the current crisis or other stressful situations.”

Joost van de Brake is an assistant professor in the field of HRM&OB. In 2019 he obtained his PhD degree from the University of Groningen (UG). The title of his thesis is “Individual employees’ multiple team membership: a double-edged sword”. His research focuses on the challenges and opportunities associated with complex modern work arrangements (e.g., the transition from face-to-face to virtual teams, the impact of covid-19 on healthcare workers).

For more information, please contact Joost van de Brake (