ZonMw funds social science research on Pandemic Preparedness

Over one and a half million for BePrepared consortium.

A consortium (BePrepared) of twelve universities, the Pandemic and Disaster Preparedness Center (PDPC), TNO, Pharos, Trimbos Institute and RIVM has received 1.6 million euros from ZonMw for social science research to prepare ourselves for upcoming pandemics adequately. The grant provides further research opportunities for scientists who already worked together intensively during the Corona pandemic.


During the Covid-19 pandemic, governments introduced prevention measures to reduce corona transmission. Measures that were intended to help prevent the overload of health care systems and avoidable deaths. But such measures, like limiting social contacts, can also impair people’s well-being (social, mental, physical, financial) and freedom. This could cause repercussions in society through, among other things, reduced support for and compliance with implemented prevention policies and trust in the government.

Four research themes

Social science researchers in this BePrepared consortium have worked intensively together during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now they will investigate how the Netherlands can be better prepared for an outbreak of infectious diseases in the future. The research focuses on four themes:

  • What social psychological and environmental factors determine whether people support and comply with measures?
  • How to strengthen the resilience of citizens and communities, and the role of involving citizens and institutions in policy.
  • How social science advice can be more effectively formulated and used in pandemic policy formulation and government communication.
  • How research methodologies can be improved so that in the future we have better data and can include modeling the effects of different types of behavioral and social interventions.

Toolkit for policymakers

Marijn de Bruin, affiliated with Radboudumc (IQ Healthcare) and RIVM and lead applicant for the study: ‘In this social and behavioural science project, we want to learn lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic to be better prepared for a pandemic in the future. We will review the literature, analyze existing data, conduct questionnaires and experiments, as well as interview citizens and policymakers to learn how future pandemic policies can be better designed, adapted, and used in models to predict and manage a pandemic. This will advance science and should also result in a better-filled toolbox for municipalities, GGDs, RIVM, and policymakers.’

This ZonMw funding will initially run for one year.