Keynote Speakers

Prof. Mariët Hagedoorn

Professor of Health Psychology at the University Medical Center Groningen, the Netherlands

Professor Hagedoorn invites participants to submit questions, ahead of time on the subject of her Keynote Speech, at , which she will try to answer in the talk

How to deal with the “Informal Care Gap”?

Transdisciplinary perspectives on sustainable informal care.

Her research focuses on adaptation to chronic and life-threatening illness in a dyadic context, that is focusing on both patients and their significant others or caregivers. She makes use of longitudinal surveys and daily diary methods to unravel (daily) support and caregiving processes in couples or other dyads (e.g., adult child caregiver and older parent), and experimental designs and eHealth interventions to test how we may improve psychosocial care and support. Her work is supported by Dutch grant organisations as well as the EU (Marie Skłodowska-Curie: ENTWINE informal care).

Mariët is past president of the Association for Researchers in Psychology and Health in the Netherlands and Belgium, and Associate Editor of the British Journal of Health Psychology.


Informal caregiving is the backbone of our care systems. Without people who provide care to their loved-ones with health problems, disability or frailty, our systems would simply collapse. Though most caregivers provide care out of love and report positive experiences, caregiving often puts a high toll on them. To make informal care more sustainable, a transdisciplinary approach in which different disciplines –among others psychology, economics, policy and technical sciences– work together is needed. I will talk about the “informal care gap,” where we stand in the field of informal caregiving research and research needed, potential solutions, and our innovative training network “ENTWINE informal care.”

Prof. Andrea Gecková

Professor of Social Psychology, Department of Health Psychology and Research Methodology, Medical Faculty, Pavol Jozef Safarik University in Kosice, Slovakia

Telling patient’s stories online as a new territory in Health Psychology.

Prof. Andrea Madarasová Gecková, PhD. (1972) serves as a professor in social psychology and expert in research on social determinants of health, and research capacity building. Since 2002 she has been responsible for the PhD research projects done within international collaboration of universities in Slovakia, the Netherlands and later on also Czech republic.

Together with dr. D. Selko, they introduced Health psychology in Slovakia and she served as a first national delegate for the European Health Psychology Association (2007-2011).

She serves as a member of the editorial board of International Journal of Public Health responsible for Central and Eastern European region for more than 10 years.

Prof. Daryl O’Connor

Professor of Psychology at the School of Psychology, University of Leeds, United Kingdom

Stress: The Quiet Killer.

Daryl’s current research focuses on: i) investigating the effects of stress and psychological interventions on health outcomes (e.g. suicide behaviour, blood pressure, eating behaviours, cortisol reactivity and diurnal cortisol levels) and understanding the role of individual differences variables (e.g. perseverative cognition, conscientiousness) within the stress process; ii) exploring the effects of implementation intentions-based interventions on screening behaviours. His work has been published extensively in leading international journals in his field and it has frequently featured on radio and television and in the national and international press. In addition, to his own recent work Daryl has also been actively involved in promoting Open Science and improving psychological science nationally and across Europe.

Daryl is a past Chair of the British Psychological Society’s (BPS) Division of Health Psychology and the BPS Psychobiology Section and he is currently Chair of BPS Research Board and Chair of the European Federation of Psychology Associations (EFPA) Board of Scientific Affairs and is a Trustee of the BPS. Daryl was joint Editor-in-Chief of the journal Psychology & Health from 2011 and 2019. In 2011, Daryl was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, in 2014 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, in 2015, he was elected a Distinguished International Affiliate of the American Psychological Association’s Division 38 (Health Psychology). In 2017 he was elected Fellow to the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research and in 2019 he was made Fellow of the European Health Psychology Society.

Prof. Geert Crombez

Professor of Health Psychology, Ghent University, Belgium

The Challenge of ‘Pain’

His research focuses upon the role of psychology in the experience of (chronic) pain and disability. Foundational to his research is a motivational perspective that is built around the powers of goals and self-regulation. He has developed innovative experimental paradigms, and integrative models of pain perception. He is keen on stimulating critical and reflective thinking about theoretical concepts (e.g. somatization, acceptance), of relevance of empirical data (e.g. statistical vs clinical significance), and the practice of science. Currently, he is interested in how to bring the lab to the real world (via ecological momentary assessment & intervention, and diary methodologies).

Geert Crombez is (has been) associate editor of various journals in the field of health psychology (Psychology & Health, Health Psychology Review) and in the field of pain (PAIN, European Journal of Pain, Journal of Pain, PainReports). He chaired an European education committee that developed a core curriculum for pain psychologists. He is a fellow of the European Health Psychology Society and of the Association for Psychological Science.


The evidence is perplexing. Despite diagnostic and therapeutic advancements in medical science, many chronic somatic complaints, such as fatigue and pain, remain “medically unexplained” and prove  stubbornly hard to change. Worse perhaps, there has been a dramatic increase in the report of disability and suffering, with health complaints given as the primary cause of distress.

In this presentation historical and current psychological science will be reviewed as it attempts to both explain and influence people’s sense of suffering associated with chronic pain. The work of the pioneering behavioural psychologist Wilbert Fordyce and physiological psychologist Ronald Melzack will set the stage. These scientists provided the ground for a now ‘taken for granted’ biopsychosocial perspective, in which a dynamic interplay between and amongst physiological, psychological and social processes has to be taken into account in order to understand pain and suffering. Next, I will dissect pain and suffering as a multilayered phenomenon. Starting with the kernel idea that pain is a biologically hard-wired signal of bodily threat that demands attention and interrupts behaviour, I will explore how individuals with persistent pain gradually become fixed in a pattern of pain-related fear and avoidance behaviour. In daily life, pain may then expand from a sign of bodily threat to a fundamental threat to the identity of individuals: Chronic pain calls into question “who we are” and “who we want to be”. Paradoxically, research indicates that active and persistent attempts to solve the pain in order to protect identity and aspirations, may only fuel frustration and suffering. The lecture will end with how a multilayered and functional analysis of the disruptive nature of pain leads to recent advancements in a psychological science of chronic pain.  In doing so, I will call for a health psychology approach of chronic pain, in which patients are considered as normal individuals, albeit in an abnormal situation.