Athena Science Shop

Athena Science Shop supports non-profit organisations in all countries over the world by implementing research projects with a potential societal impact within the four research themes of Athena:


Athena coordinates research projects for individuals, civil society organizations (CSO) and communities who aim to address real world problems or explore opportunities for a more sustainable future. In order to address the incoming questions, the research will be conducted by students supervised by Athena staff members. Below you can find examples of internship subjects (MPA and GH) and associated scientific posters.

In most cases the research includes active participation with the commissioner and various stakeholders, including communities. We offer projects for bachelor, master and research master students in the Netherlands as well as abroad. If you are an organization that would like to pose a research question, or you are a student interested in conducting your thesis or internship in this field, please contact our Science Shop coordinator on scienceshop.athena@vu.nl

The Athena Science Shop is supported by the InSPIRES project and the Living Knowledge Network. This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the grant agreement No. 741677.

Athena Science Shop logo's

2019 MPA Internship Reports

Merijn van Leeuwen
Internship at Nictiz
Track: CHT

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in medicine (AIME) may ameliorate the issues which healthcare is facing by “transforming healthcare from art to science”. Central to the insurgence of AIME is the usage of self-learning Machine Learning (ML) or Deep Learning (DL) algorithms, applicable to many purposes within healthcare. Within the AIME, the field of radiology is a frontrunner, with novel computer aided diagnosis systems showing much potential. Despite these conceivable benefits of ML-based Software as a Medical Device (ML-based SaMD), there is a lack of knowledge regarding the risks and how these risks are being controlled by governance or regulation. Therefore, this study explores the risks, governance and regulation in Europe, aiming to provide relevant information for the establishment of suitable governance.

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Lisa Augustijn
Internship at Athena Instituut, Vrije Universiteit
Track: Major Sis

Concerns and beliefs in climate change vary greatly around the world, despite the global consensus in the scientific community about the causal relationship between human activities and climate change. The debate surrounding human-driven climate change takes place in the public, political and scientific spheres, which all influence and interact with each other. The complex relations between science, politics, media and the public and their quality are of importance for this debate as a constructive debate is at the basis of finding suitable solutions. Currently it is seen that scientific facts are more often under scrutiny in the public debate, which can be explained by two trends: digitalization and the blurring of boundaries between science and society. The aim of this study is to contribute to understanding the societal debate regarding relevant and urgent societal issues in an increasingly fragmented science communication landscape. This is done by exploring the usefulness of the sense-making framework of Dervin for analyzing the sense-making processes of citizens in the societal debate surrounding climate change. 

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Wieneke Bastet
Internship at Health and Youth Care Inspectorate
Track: Major Sis

In the Netherlands, the Health and Youth Care Inspectorate (IGJ) supervises clinical research by inspecting compliance with applicable (inter)national legislation. Thereby, IGJ ensures the wellbeing, rights, and safety of participants, and the quality of data during the conduct and after completion of clinical trials. The inspectorate inspects all clinical trial phases that are subject to the Medical Research Involving Human Subjects Act (WMO). Due to the amount of studies that are submitted for ethical review at the competent authorities every year, IGJ must develop an effective and convenient routine inspection approach to prioritise visits. In clinical trials, a sponsor is defined as “an individual, company, institution, or organization which takes responsibility for the initiation, management, and/or financing of a clinical trial.” The inspectorate aims to use a risk-driven approach based on risks for non-compliance with applicable legislation associated with the sponsor type. However, IGJ lacks insight in the current sponsor classification located in the Netherlands and the risks for non-compliance with applicable legislation associated with these sponsors.  

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Sander Brus
Internship at myTomorrows
Track: M&E

Sickle cell disease (SCD) patients have limited treatment options. However, last year, oral-based L-Glutamine (L-GLN) was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for SCD patients older than five years living in the United States. In the French West Indies (FWI), which is part of Europe, SCD patients are exclusively granted access to this treatment via the Early Access Program (EAP) facilitated by myTomorrows. However, it is unknown how patients in a real-life setting are affected by this treatment, especially regarding domains of quality of life (QoL). Therefore, the goal of this research was to augment knowledge about LGLN as a treatment for SCD patients or gather so-called real-world data (RWD). More specifically, objectives were (1) assess QoL of SCD patients receiving L-GLN treatment compared to patients not receiving this treatment; (2) explore perceptions and experiences of physicians prescribing L-GLN for SCD patients. Lastly, an observational registry was set-up in two hospitals in the FWI to prospectively assess the effectiveness and safety of L-GLN.

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Oscar Klein
Internship at EY
Track: M&E

Hospitals are experiencing an increased burden due to ageing societies and demanding patients, which requires enhanced efficiency in inpatient services, resource utilization, and clinical outcomes. Digitization in healthcare has been proven to have positive effects on alleviating the pressure on hospitals, reinforced by the Electronic Health Record (EHR) and medical apps that have created a new wave of data. With the use of emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, and robotics, the current trend of Industry 4.0 builds on digitization with cyber-physical systems (CPS) to leverage connectivity between and integration of processes. Industry 4.0 originated in the manufacturing industry in order to improve production processes and create smart factories. Its value in such industries is well understood; however, to date, the Industry 4.0 environment in hospitals remains underexplored. Therefore, in order to examine the value of Industry 4.0 for hospitals, this study aims to explore how hospitals can use Industry 4.0 to become a smart hospital, and reap the benefits of this transformation.

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Marthe Luijtens
Internship at Healthy Entrepreneurs
Track: IPH

Pneumonia is the leading cause of mortality of children under the age of five. In Uganda the mortality burden under five year is 16.2%. Pneumonia is easily treatable with antibiotics and can be prevented with low-cost medication and care (WHO, 2011). In Uganda, Village Health Team members provide healthcare at the community level. VHTs are able to diagnose and treat mild pneumonia by counting the respiratory rate per minute of a child using an ‘Acute Respiratory Infection’ timer. However, low accuracy of this method is encountered due to difficulties, such as losing count, multiple actions at once, and a noisy environment. A probable consequence is misdiagnosis which could result in under- or overtreatment. Therefore, the need for the development of simpleto-use and standardized technologies in pneumonia diagnostics arose. 

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Rianne Koeling
Internship at Amref Flying Doctors
Track: IPH

Underserved countries continue to face development challenges such as healthcare. Despite the major progress made with regard to global health during the Millennium Development Goals, 400 million people still lack access to essential and good quality healthcare services. This was one of the reasons why the United Nations (UN) released the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. In this, the UN stress the importance of partnerships such as NGO-business partnerships (NBPs) to achieve these goals. Previous research emphasized NBPs, having a strategic collaboration, to accelerate the successes in sustainable development projects. Although there is a lack of insights into the transformative potential of NBPs and its underlying factors. Success factors are abundantly provided but have a relatively narrow focus on contextual influences of other actors. Notwithstanding that literature has shown the many interactions NGOs and business have in a multi-stakeholder context. The current trends in international development combined with the poor insight into factors influencing an NBP, makes it valuable to explore the facilitators and barriers influencing the potential of these partnerships from a broader perspective. 

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Galoeh Adrian-Noviar
Internship at Athena Instituut, Vrije Universiteit
Track: Policy

The purpose of this study was to provide recommendations to the city district of Amsterdam Nieuw-West on how to stimulate and facilitate the development of a sustainable Resident Leadership Programme, designed to combat loneliness by empowering its residents.

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Ky-Lie Tan
Internship at Louise Bolk Instituut
Track: Policy

The multicultural society in the Amsterdam Southeast district brings with it a lot of complex health issues. To address these multicultural issues, an integrative approach has been introduced based on the Positive Health concept (PH). However, this concept has yet been investigated in a multicultural context. The purpose of this research is to investigate the applicability of PH in Southeast. Research Question: In which way can the PH-model be applied for culture-sensitive care?

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2019 MPA posters

Koen Langeslag
Internship at Hogeschool van Amsterdam
Track: CHT 

The research question of this study is: What are the views of adolescents, aged 12 to 18, regarding Physical Activity and (Serious) gaming behaviour?

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Devie-Luna Arts
Internship at Student Medical Service of the University of Amsterdam
Track: CHT

The aim of this study is to develop and evaluate a web-based eHealth tool to address attention problems among high educated students by analysing, mapping, and incorporating the perceived user experiences of students.  

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Sem Barendse
Internship at NeMo Science Museum & Athena Instituut, Vrije Universiteit
Track: Communication

The research question of this study is: What is the perceived educational value of popular (Dutch-spoken) science videos among children 10-12 years?

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Emma Dierickx
Internship at Next Nature Network
Track: Communication

The aim of this study is to contribute to the inclusive and reflective qualities of Next Nature Network's interactive Reprodutopia expo by investigatin public perspectives on future reproductive technologies in lay ethics discussions. 

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Jillian Omara
Internship at Amsterdam UMC
Track: IPH

The aim of this study was to understand the relationship between the food environment and food procurement behaviors in the process of dietary acculturaiton by investigating how people of Moroccan origin interact with their food environment in two different neighborhoods in Amsterdam.

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Noëlle Valkenburg
Internship at Cardiologie Centra Nederland
Track: M&E

The aim of this study is to provide insight into the feasibility of an eHealth platform in integrated care for Diabetes Mellitus 2 and COPD/asthma in the Netherlands, by examining the general practitioner user demands via interviews  

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Victor Bakker
Internship at Tradewinds Operations
Track: M&E

The aim of this study is to develop actionable insights on the implementation of Personalised Oncology in Dutch healthcare by analysing value assessments of stakeholders following allocative decision-making criteria for implementation.

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Galoeh Adrian-Noviar
Internship at GGD Amsterdam
Track: Policy

The aim of this study is to provide recommendations to the city district of Amsterdam Nieuw-West on how to stimulate and facilitate the development of a sustainable community leadership programme designed to combat, by gathering information from key-figure residents about their experiences and/or perceptions on the process of initiating a neighbourhood activity.

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Justine Gonggrijp
Internship at Tear
Track: Policy

The research question of this study is: What are the perceptions and intended actions of participants in respect of street youth after the campaign Nacht Zonder Dak?

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Emma Zieck
Internship at KIT Royal Tropical Institure
Track: Policy

The aim of this study is to investigate if and how multi-sectorial approaches are applied to prevent and respond to sexual violence against Syrian refugees in Jordan, in order to make recommendations to policy makes and practitioners dealing with sexual violence in Jordan. 

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2019 Global Health internship reports

Yannick Helms
Internship at Landelijke Coördinatie Infectieziektebestrijding (LCI), Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM)

Online respondent-driven detection (online-RDD) is a novel method of case-finding that may enhance contact tracing (CT). However, the opportunities and barriers of online-RDD for public health practice have not yet been investigated from the perspective of public health professionals (PHPs). Therefore, it is unclear what the potential strengths and limitations of online-RDD for CT are. 

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Rachel Brenner
Internship at Athena Instituut, Vrije Universiteit

Worldwide, people are experiencing increased societal and moral pressure to conform to a Western, healthy ideal. This ideal is characterized by an individual responsibility for one’s health, where healthy eating and exercise are encouraged, and unhealthy eating and lifestyle are viewed as immoral, lazy, and impure. Unfortunately, some people may take this healthy ideal to an extreme and develop pathologically obsessive and restrictive tendencies. The term “orthorexia nervosa” (ON) was created in recent years to describe those who develop an obsession with healthy eating that leads to problems with their health and daily functioning. As ON is a new and understudied concept, it is not well understood, nor are there valid and reliable tools of measurement. And, the perspective of those who may suffer from ON are often left out of discussions among the scientific community when seeking to understand, define, and treat ON. Accordingly, the present study is the first to examine how ON develops over time from the perspective of those who believe they have had ON. 

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Sophie Renckens
Internship at Athena Instituut, Vrije Universiteit

The last years a healthy diet has been put higher on the health agenda worldwide in response to the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases. However, in some cases this can lead to an unhealthy restrictive intake of only foods one considers healthy. Orthorexia Nervosa (ON) is a disordered eating pattern that is characterised by an obsession with healthy eating, leading to physical, psychological and social impairments. Increasing interconnectedness through social media has been found to be a potential contributor to the development of ON. Considering this link and the fact that more than 148,000 posts with #orthorexia have been shared on Instagram, it is important to know what is posted about ON on Instagram. A content analysis of #orthorexia posts was done before, but on a relatively small scale. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the nature of the conversation around ON on Instagram, by answering the research question: how is Orthorexia Nervosa conceptualised on Instagram? 

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2018 MPA Internship Reports

Britt Reeker
Internship at ChipSoft
Track: M&E

Many hospitals engage in active patient participation. Patients are increasingly encouraged to have an active role in their own care. To facilitate patient participation, self-service technologies have been introduced. Self-service provides patients more control over their own healthcare process. One of the self-service technologies that is increasingly getting the attention of hospitals is the self-service kiosk. ChipSoft is a Dutch software company that made the self-service kiosk available for the healthcare sector. ChipSoft recognises an increasing demand for the self-service kiosk from hospitals. The expectation is that more and more hospitals will use kiosks as it puts control into the hands of the patient. The increased demand makes that ChipSoft wants to further improve the kiosk in order to increase its effectivity. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the kiosk in order to know what aspects of the kiosk can be improved. An adjusted version of the HOT-fit evaluation framework is used as a guiding principle for the evaluation.

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Sascha van der Vliet
Internship at Women on Web
Track: IPH

In 1973 abortion was legalized in the United States (US). Nevertheless, the number of legal restrictions increased with 34% since 2011. Based on the legal restrictions, states can be divided into hostile, middleground and supportive states. On the other hand, legal restrictions are only some of the many barriers that women can face during their search for abortion information and services. The aim of this study is to fill in the research gap on the barriers that women, who cannot find a clinic themselves, experience. Many of these women approach Women on Web (WoW), which is a non‐profit online abortion platform that provides medical abortion pills and corresponding information to women in need of an abortion. This leads to the following research question: “What are the reasons women in supportive and middle‐ground states in the US search for a medication‐induced abortion at home through Women on Web?”

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Mariska Scheffer
Internship at Edinburgh Napier University & Oregon Health & Science University
Track: IPH

Given the link between poverty and health, nurses deal with health consequences of social inequity across the United Kingdom (U.K.) and United States (U.S.) every day. In both countries, nurses are placed in the position which enables them to impact population health. However, little is known about the attitude of student nurses to social justice and poverty and about the impact of current pedagogical strategies teaching about health inequalities. The aim of the study was to assess and compare the attitude of Scottish and American nursing students to social justice and poverty before and after teaching about health inequalities.

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Zahra Khazai
Internship at Leprosy Research Initiative
Track: Policy

Leprosy is a neglected tropical disease and although there is a cure available, there are still many people in endemic countries infected by the disease or suffering from long-term complications, such as disabilities. In order to eliminate leprosy worldwide, health research is needed. In order for health research to be effective, the strengthening of health research systems is needed. A way of doing this is by defining research priorities. Furthermore, due to the limited resources and in order to effectively target the research and maximize the impact of health investments, it is important to define research priorities. Furthermore, a participatory way in which a wide range of stakeholders is involved in the research priority setting process is essential. The LRI, a combined venture of international NGOs working in the field of leprosy control, has develop a policy with research priorities in 2013. However, the field of leprosy is developing and it is unclear whether these priorities still cover the most important research topics in the field of leprosy. Therefore, the research question addressed in this report is: “Which leprosy-related research topics are considered to be the most important and prioritized by stakeholders?”

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Crissy van Weert
Internship at Mainline
Track: Policy

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of seventeen interrelated goals and 169 corresponding targets set out by the UN at the end of 2015. The SDGs aim to promote and coordinate the implementation of internationally agreed development. Currently, the SDGs are of substantial importance in achieving sustainable development worldwide and all countries within the UN agreed on contributing towards these goals. Harm reduction for people who use drugs (PWUD) is an evidence-based approach to improve the health and quality of life of PWUD, and is a legitimate alternative to abstinence for people who are unable or not willing to abstain from drug use. 

Contrary to drug abstinence, harm reduction focuses on the prevention of harm, rather than on the prevention of drug use itself. Harm reduction is not mentioned explicitly in the SDGs, while abstinence is. Currently, the importance of harm reduction is not always acknowledged by local governments and other funders. The aim of this study was to understand whether ‘harm reduction’ contributes to the SDGs, and if so, in which way. Therefore, this study explored perceptions about the relation between harm reduction and the SDGs, as perceived by organizations involved with harm reduction or drug policy.

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2018 MPA posters

Anouk Gaaf
Internship at Trimbos Instituut
Track: Major SiS

The aim of this study is to provide an update about the characteristics and clinical effects of GHB emergencies registered in the MDI and to investigate the role of other substances. In addition, motives of GHB combination use will be investigated.

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Nienke Koopman
Internship at Rabobank & Primary School Crescendo
Track: Major SIS

The aim of this study is to give recommendations for CSR initiatives aiming to sitmulate a healthy lifestyle at primary schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods, by providing insight in the efforts and effects of the Rabobank Program.

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Oscar Klein
Internship at Cushman & Wakefield
Track: M&E

The aim of this study is to provide Cushman & Wakefield valuable insights by explorin the expectations and requirements for public-private partnerships in the Dutch healthcare real estate market.

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Karima Hazzouti
Internship at Amsterdam Center for Health Communication
Track: M&E

The aim of this study is to enhance screening of Moroccan-Dutch pregnant women at higher risk for depression by gaining insight into the perspectives of midwives and Moroccan-Dutch pregnant women regarding the screenin process of perinantal depressive complaints.

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Karilyn Mujica Gastelbondo
Internship at Athena Instituut, Vrije Universiteit
Track: IPH

The aim of this study is  to give recommendations in order to maximize the future impact and sustainability of the implementation of the results of the Co-ResponsHIVility pilot project conducted by IrsiCaixa in Barcelona by analyzing the experiences of the stakeholders on the process as well as how they valued the process, their participation during the process, the results of the process and the characteristics of the process which are based on a new research approach.

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Louise de Vos Klootwijk
Internship at GGD Amsterdam
Track: Policy

The aim of this study is to evaluate the HCV testing policy by prospectively validating the HCV-MOSAIC risk score examining the HCV-MOSAIC risk score in daily practice exploring barriers and areas for improvement and make recommendation for further optimalisation.

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Floris Horst
Internship at Athena Instituut, Vrije Universiteit
Track: Policy

The aim of this study is to identify high-value cost-conscious care carriers by evaluating HVCCC-initiatives.

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Joey Woudstra
Internship at Athena Instituut, Vrije Universiteit
Track: policy

The research question of this study is: What are the perspectives and practices of e-Health developers and policy-makers in hopital healthcare in The Netherlands on inclusive patient portal design for all?

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2018 Global Health internship reports

Lucille Standaar
Internship at ParnassiaGroep

The increase of the development of technology, logistics and communication has led to an tremendous increase of human mobility worldwide. In the Netherlands, the diversification of the population in terms of cultural backgrounds is increasing. This phenomenon is demanding new approaches within the health sector as the concept of adequate health care differs among cultures. In the Netherlands, but also in other countries, populations from different cultural backgrounds often have a lower mental health outcome than the native population. This difference in mental health outcome has been assigned to social-economic factors. However, the approach of the mental health professional, in regard to the cultural difference, is also theorized to be accountable for this disparity. The role of the mental health professional suggests that there might be a lack of adequacy in the providence of mental health. As human mobility is observed globally, research to the role of mental health professional’s approaches to patients with a different cultural background and the possible effect upon mental health outcome is highly relevant. The objective of this research is to identify what cultural competencies are and whether the development of these competencies are influenced by the broader context of mental health professionals by assessing the perceptions of managers on cultural competencies and identifying the relationship between the mental health professional’s level of cultural competence (CC) and the level of treatment process in the context of the management of the mental health professional on a clinical and regional level.

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Valente Martina
Internship at Athena Instituut, Vrije Universiteit

Healthy eating is characterized by a dualism: on one hand it is promoted by governments as a mean to avoid non communicable diseases (NCDs); on the other, it may turn into obsession, with people concerned over diet till the point to develop an eating disoder (ED) called Orthorexia Nervosa (ON). in the last twenty yeras, many people have started eating healthier, with young Western women being the most conerned group. However, there has been also an increase in EDs, which are the result of a sick relationship with food and nutrition.  The purpose of this research is to investigate what are the factors that lead young women (18-35) to be obsessed with healthy eating. The research question is: “What are the factors contributing to the choice of healthy eating and how they are involved in the progression from healthy eating to the obsession, in young women (18-35)?” and the sub‐questions are: (1) “Are there eating-­‐related events experienced by women during adolescence, which may have influenced their transition to healthy eating?” (2) “What are the interactions between biological, psychological and social factors that lead young women to restrict their diet to the point that diet itself becomes an obsession?”

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Annisa Ika Putri
Internship at Athena Instituut, Vrije Universiteit

Stigma related to infectious conditions like HIV and leprosy, and non-infectious conditions like schizophrenia and diabetes are known to severely impact the lives of people affected and the management and control of their condition. In some cases, there are people who are able to overcome these unpleasant experiences of stigma and turn their condition around towards a positive direction, who are called positive deviants. This study aimed to explore the factors and strategies of positive deviance across the four stigmatized health conditions and compare the quality of life between positive and non-positive deviants.

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Emma Douma
Internship at Athena Instituut, Vrije Universiteit

Although an increased interest in health is often considered a positive development, this interest can sometimes develop into a pathological preoccupation with a healthy lifestyle: orthorexia nervosa (ON). Since Steven Bratman coined the term orthorexia in 1997, significant research efforts have been made to investigate the phenomenon. Currently, ON is not officially classified as a psychiatric disorder, as there is too little robust evidence to classify it as such. The studies investigating ON have predominantly focused on diagnostic criteria, treatment methods and prevalence of the disorder, but the development and factors contributing to the development have been sparsely researched. Thus, the current study aimed to investigate the development and factors contributing to the development of ON, hereby contributing to the evidence necessary to determine how ON should be classified. The research question that was formulated for the study is: How does orthorexia nervosa progress from a pursuit of a healthy diet to an unhealthy preoccupation with food?

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