public health

Focus of research

Karien Stronks, who graduated as a health scientist and political scientist, seeks to generate evidence on how the position of an individual in society impacts his/her health and – at the population level – leads to inequalities in health. More specifically, she has focused on understanding why health inequalities arise and how to effectively combat them. Since 2006, she has undertaken this task as Professor of Public Health at the Academic Medical Centre/University of Amsterdam/Amsterdam UMC.

Stronks has completed observational studies using a wide range of study designs (cross-sectional and prospective cohort studies, international comparative studies, questionnaire validation, qualitative studies) to map the mechanisms underlying socio-economic and ethnic inequalities in health, related to biomedical (e.g. cardiovascular risks) and behavioural factors (dietary habits, physical activity etc.), psychosocial factors (e.g. discrimination), and health care (e.g. adverse events). Furthermore, she has studied the effectiveness of possible strategies to prevent these inequalities from arising, through randomised controlled trials (e.g. culturally targeted behavioural intervention to prevent type 2 diabetes mellitus), natural experiments (e.g. effect of urban regeneration programme on mental health), developmental evaluations (e.g. role of a knowledge broker in development of public health policy at the local level) and process evaluations (e.g. on conditions for a successful development of intersectoral local health policy). She works with scientists from a wide range of disciplines, including social sciences (such as public administration, anthropology, sociology and ethics), epidemiology, health promotion, and clinical sciences (cardiology, psychiatry). Stronks’ training as both a social scientist and an epidemiologist enables her to cross boundaries between disciplines. Moreover, to ensure that her work is used to tackle health inequalities, she works closely with stakeholders in relevant policy sectors and public health practice, particularly at the municipal level.