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.

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

MPA Internship Reports 2018

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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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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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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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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Britt Reeker
Internship at ChipSoft
Track: MPA

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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2018 MPA posters

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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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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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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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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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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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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2018 Global Health internship reports

Valente Martina
Internship at Athena Instituut, Vrije Universiteit
Track: GH

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
Track: GH

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
Track: GH

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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Lucille Standaar
Internship at ParnassiaGroep
Track: GH

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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