Creating Innovative & Translational Research


Attention to bodily symptoms

Informed by an integrative model explicating the dynamic interactions between bottom-up and top-down features, we investigate when, why and how bodily sensations (or signals of bodily threat) receive processing priority despite being irrelevant for current activities (task interferences). Research focuses upon bottom-up features, but also on top-down settings that facilitate processing of bodily sensations. Included is research on hypervigilance to bodily sensations in contexts of bodily threat, and research on how somatosensory stimuli interact with information in the external environment (cross-modal integration within peri-personal space).

Self-regulation of bodily symptoms

We investigate when and how the saliency of bodily sensations can be diminished by top-down settings.Research focuses mainly upon directing attention away from bodily sensations (distraction), and upon an accepting attitude towards the sensations (acceptance, willingness, mindfulness).

Self-management of illness and health-related behavior

Self-management in real-life settings often requires finding an adequate balance between competing goals (continuing with valued activities versus engaging in illness-related activities. We investigate the consequences of goal conflict, and the rigid pursuit of unattainable goals (e.g., symptom relief in chronic illness). Besides experiments and questionnaires, we use diary methodologies to provide a more ecological and personalized perspective on goals and self-regulation. A goal and self-regulation perspective is also used to develop and evaluate interventions.

Interpersonal dynamics of pain and chronic illness: Stigmatization and Family Processes

Stigmatization in the Context of Chronic Pain and Opioids: The Ghent Health Psychology Lab investigates stigmatization related to chronic pain and opioid use, aiming to improve patient wellbeing and treatment outcomes. One project examines how stigmatization and invalidation in healthcare encounters, particularly mismatches between the illness models of patients and practitioners, impact patients' quality of life, stress levels, and treatment adherence. Another project focuses on opioid-related stigmatization within the broader social environment, including society and various networks. It explores how this stigmatization affects patient wellbeing and treatment efficacy. A related project studies the unintended stigmatization arising from opioid use reduction policies in the Belgian healthcare system. It examines the impact of these policies on pain management and patient outcomes, highlighting the broader implications of stigmatization in clinical settings. Family Processes in (Chronic) Illness: The Ghent Health Psychology Lab also investigates the impact of a(n) (advanced) cancer diagnosis on families, aiming to identify predictors of (mal)adaptation. This research explores the experiences and impact of a diagnosis of (advanced) cancer on the family as a whole and individual family members (children). In addition to cancer-related research, the lab studies the dynamics in families dealing with chronic illnesses such as chronic kidney disease. In this research parents’ mental health, professional outcomes and parenting behaviours are explored.