Elke Van Hoof teaches medical and health psychology and clinical psychology interventions at the VUB. She is also a sought-after guest lecturer at the Vlerick Business School and for many other training programmes. Elke is also a coordinator for the interuniversity ‘Primary psychological care’ programme and a lecturer on the ‘Psychodiagnostics for adults’ programme. Finally, Elke Van Hoof is responsible for the ‘Common mental disorders: maintaining contact and communication’ module in the Disability Case Management training programme organised by the NIHDI.
Elke Van Hoof’s research currently focuses on the following topics:
- Covid-19 and mental well-being
Since March 2020, people’s lives in Belgium have been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Elke was invited at the very beginning of the crisis to share her expertise on the impact of the pandemic on people’s mental well-being.
As chair of the ‘Mental impact of Covid-19’ working group in the Superior Health Council, Elke reports on the potential impact of the pandemic, based on systematic reviews of the available scientific literature. As a member of the sub-working group under the GEES – the group of experts charged with developing an exit strategy – she ensured that attention was also paid to the psychosocial aspects in the exit strategy that followed the first lockdown. Elke is also a member of the expert group that supports the Flemish Ministry of Health in developing and implementing its well-being strategy in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and is a member of the ‘Psychology and Corona’ expert group of Belgian psychology professors.
- Workable work
Based on the ‘Job demands & resources’ model, Elke Van Hoof researches how to prevent toxic stress and consequently burnout at work, with the aim to achieve ‘workability’, or workable work. ‘Are certain types of people more susceptible to certain stressors at work?’, ‘Which resources are available for dealing with this?’ and ‘How can these be transformed into a model for durable and workable work?’: these are some of the questions that she asks in her research.
Elke is involved in several research projects on this topic, such as a collaboration with Innoviris – the institute for the promotion of scientific research and innovation of the Brussels-Capital region. While some projects focus on the general working population, others focus on specific groups, such as the ‘Inspired doctors’ (Bevlogen artsen) project.
Work plays a vital role in the rehabilitation of cancer patients. Return to work after a cancer diagnosis and successful reintegration in the work setting are, given the increasing number of cancer survivors, becoming important subjects. Elke Van Hoof holds the chair in ‘Cancer and Coaching’ at the VUB and is supervising two doctoral research projects: ‘Cancer and the self-employed’ (Kanker en zelfstandigen) and ‘Returning to work, coaching cancer patients’ (Terugkeer naar werk, coaching bij kanker).
In oncology units, patients attend multidisciplinary consultations in which they are informed about their treatment. However, such consultations are generally not aligned to the information needs of the patient, which can put the patient under undue stress. Elke Van Hoof is involved in the MOC-UP project, which works with patients to develop suitable ways of providing this complex information.
- Stress, burnout and resilience
Stress has not just negative, but also positive, properties and impacts. Elke Van Hoof researches the effect of these impacts in various patient groups. She also considers the most effective interventions. She asks questions such as: ‘Why does stress cause vulnerability in some people?’ and ‘How can this vulnerability be transformed into resilience?’
Elke also explores the impact of stress on our information processing capacity. Do we understand everything that is said to us when we are under stress? If not, what do we hear? And, what do we not hear? The answers to these questions could help us to talk to people in a way that better meets their needs. This could be helpful when discussing difficult subjects such as a cancer diagnosis, for example, or when talking to someone suffering from a burnout.
Between 2012 and 2020, Elke was a member of the Belgian Commission of Psychologists. In addition to her membership of various advisory bodies relating to the coronavirus pandemic, Elke also has an advisory role in the working group for the development of electronic health records in the Commission of Psychologists and is a member of the Knowledge Centre Incapacity for Work in the NIHDI.
Elke Van Hoof’s scientific publications.