CoRPS Center of Excellence

Research of the Department Medical and Clinical Psychology is embedded in CoRPS.

Research

Focus CoRPS research program

The CoRPS research program primarily focuses on five groups of patients with chronic medical or psychological conditions: cardiovascular disorders, diabetes mellitus, cancer and neuropsychology disorders. Since 2013 a new research area has been included which will focus more directly on psychological disorders.

The overall theoretical framework that drives the CoRPS research agenda is the biopsychosocial model. The model states that human functioning in the context of health and disease is influenced by the interplay of biological, psychological and social factors. Biological factors include disease-related processes and environmental pathogens. Psychological factors entail thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Among the behavioral factors, health behaviors (e.g., physical activity, dietary intake, and medication use) play a primary role. The social factors include health disparities and differences across cultures and countries in health and disease. This model was first outlined by George L. Engel and published in Science (G.L. Engel (1977). The need for a new medical model: A challenge for biomedicine. Science 196:129–136). This model is at the core of the Health Psychology and Medical Psychology, both in areas of fundamental research as well as applied clinical work in medical and public health settings. Researchers from CoRPS have developed interventions and theoretical models that address these complex multifactorial processes and require complex statistical modeling. The psychological and social components of the model are consistent with the overarching profile of Tilburg University: “Understanding Society.” With approximately one third of the adult population having a chronic medical or psychological condition, the research of CoRPS addresses a critically important topic with high relevance to public health and related policies and interventions. 

Five chronic conditions

The CoRPS research program focuses on five mentioned chronic conditions:

  1. a high level of disease burden in terms of frequency and impact of the medical condition
  2. relevance to the medical profession as expressed by both general practitioner and medical specialists
  3. feasibility of psychological research in terms of screening, intervention, and detection of disease mechanisms
  4. scientific merit both in the national and international context
  5. expertise of the researchers from Tilburg University and the hospitals participating in CoRPS.

Co-morbidity between the various conditions is an explicit subject of study. In addition to clinical research, CoRPS is also involved in fundamental research, including cognitive neurosciences to study emotion processing and social threat a factors that may contribute to stress-related disease and experimental laboratory research on cardiovascular stress.

Thematic areas

The thematic areas of research are:

  • risk assessment - Which patients are at increased risk for poor health outcomes?
  • patient-centered outcome assessment - What is the effect of psychological factors on patient-reported health outcomes and prognosis?
  • mediating mechanisms - How can we explain this effect of psychological factors on health outcomes?
  • clinical care - How can we improve these health outcomes?
  • theory and methods - What is the best way to study these issues and analyze new findings?

These areas guide the development of the research program across the different target groups of patients with chronic medical and psychological conditions.