Obligatory courses 

Design of Persuasive Health Technology

In this course, you will gain insight into the possibilities of the latest health technologies, such as personal mobile sensors, virtual coaching applications, serious games, smart glasses and wearables. Special attention will be given to the question of how to reach ‘hard-to-reach’ populations – such as low SES groups, adolescents and illiterates – by applying the strategies of Entertainment-Education (EE). You will also apply the principles of diffusion of innovation.

In this course, you will learn how to design engaging technology for real health problems in a multidisciplinary team. You will apply persuasive design theory and entertainment education strategies to support health and well-being. The project assignments will be linked to the research projects going on at our Centre for eHealth & Wellbeing. Your team will create and evaluate a prototype and substantiate it in a (group) paper covering relevant literature on the design of persuasive system design and strategies for entertainment education. The course will culminate in a Demo Pitch. 

Public Health Psychology

Public Health Psychology (PHP) addresses the field of health promotion, with a focus on promoting a healthy lifestyle among the general public. A healthy lifestyle includes behaviours relevant to primary prevention (healthy diet, safe sex, no smoking) and secondary prevention (e.g. early detection of disease through participation in cancer screening programmes). Specific health issues – obesity, addictions, infectious diseases – as well as specific risk groups – people with lower socio-economic status, elderly, adolescents – will all be addressed in this course. 

As a student, you will learn to systematically plan and design an evidence-based health promotion intervention, using skills such as: collecting relevant evidence, identifying relevant determinants of health behaviour, selecting and implementing appropriate behaviour change techniques, and achieving successful dissemination of an intervention on a large scale. You will also get acquainted with new techniques, including innovative, web-based technology and cognitive bias modification techniques. Your examination in this course will consist of a written exam, presentations and assignments. This course also provides you with the opportunity to become familiar with the current professional field of public health psychology. You will meet an inspiring public health practitioner as guest lecturer. 

Behavioural Medicine

In this course, you will gain in-depth knowledge regarding the interaction between mental and physical processes in people with somatic disorders. Topics will be related to the patient’s ‘lllness journey’ and will include: symptom interpretation and help-seeking behaviour, coping with the stress of becoming ill, patient-provider communication, pain and pain management, adherence to treatment and self-management, informal caregiving and terminal (or palliative) care. You will learn to identify potential psychological interventions in the care process for a particular disease, examining several contemporary interventions that have been the subject of scientific study. You will also will learn about developmental stages from a life-span perspective and discover the impact illnesses have on patients in different phases of their lives. As a Behavioural Medicine specialist, you will become sensitized to age-appropriate approaches and interventions. 

In a small group, you will prepare a presentation about the psychological aspects of one particular chronic disease (e.g. diabetes, stroke, HIV, dementia, cancer) and review a recent article on a psychological intervention (e.g., self-management training, decision aid, motivational interviewing, mindfulness, music therapy). As far professional skills are concerned during this course, you will learn how to prepare and lead a discussion with fellow students about a topic in behavioural medicine. 

Advanced Research Methods for PHT

This course teaches Master students advanced skills in conducting and reporting research in technology-oriented clinical and health psychology. The course prepares for the MA thesis. Students gain insight in state-of-the art academic and applied research. The focus is on how to solve dilemmas in everyday research practice with a keen eye to the reliability, validity and implementation value of the study. The lecturers are experienced researchers who together cover a wide range of theoretical approaches and specific methods relevant to PHT research. They will share and reflect on their own research experience in order to provide students good real life examples of different aspects of the research process.  A combination of lectures, tutorials, a reader, home assignments, and online micro-lectures will provide guidance about dealing with the main issues involved in conducting research. The tutorials will offer students hands-on knowledge about a variety of advanced research methods. The final assignment consists of a research paper or proposal on the basis of one selected research method.

Elective courses 

Learning and Instruction

In this course, you will be introduced to the psychological principles of learning and instruction, ranging from basic theories of learning reading, writing, math and science to means of fostering learning by means of instruction in the widest sense of the word. Instruction includes giving feedback, design of learning activities, providing examples and supporting collaborative learning and problem solving. Finally, you will discover how these theories can be utilized in the design of learning environments. 

Risk and Leadership in Societal and Technological Contexts

Failing leadership and risk communication have recently gained much attention in popular media. An example of disputed risk communication was the low uptake of the HPV vaccine offered to 12-13 year old girls in 2009 in the Netherlands. An alleged important characteristic of the resulting controversy was neither anticipated nor adequately dealt with, viz. the online interaction through social media undermining the trust in the RIVM (health institute) experts. To be able to explain the psychological processes that might have taken place, this course will focus on the many facets of leadership, risk communication and crises against a societal and technological background. Based on a number of recent crises, you will become familiar with leadership and risk communication theories that might provide an explanation for the development of these crises. 

Cognition and Technical Systems

The Cognition and Technical Systems course focusses on the way in which insight in human cognition influences the design of technical systems. This will be elaborated for the domains of Intelligent Systems (Quartile 1A) and Traffic Psychology (Quartile 2A). In the domain of Intelligent Systems, the focus will be on how systems can be made more intelligent, based on knowledge of human cognition. This is increasingly important for the design of systems that access the web, make independent decisions, or that are creative (as is the case with gaming). With respect to Traffic Psychology, the focus will be on how the knowledge we have of cognitive processes, such as perception, attention, learning, memory, decision-making and acting, can be used for designing optimal traffic systems. You will also look at the effects on driving behaviour of telephoning, fatigue, aging and drugs. 

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