Prof. E.M.A. Smets PhD


Prof. E.M.A. Smets PhD

Full Professor
Main activities
Education, Research
Medical psychology
Focus of research

 The research line Medical Communication has three points of particular interest:

(1) General medical communication, with a focus on the exchange of information and decision making and a specific interest in the communication of uncertainty. In this area we particularly address communication in oncology. Relevant patient reported outcomes encompass patients' understanding and recall of information, their satisfaction with the decision making process and their trust in health care providers.

(2) Communication in the domain of clinical genetics and genomics. Again, the focus is on information exchange and decision making but these specifically relate to genetically determined health risks for the individual and/or their offspring.

(3) Training in medical communication. This research concerns the evidence based teaching and assessment of medical communication skills and professional behaviour of medical students and medical specialists.

Key publications
  • Fruijtier Agnetha D., Visser Leonie N. C., van Maurik Ingrid S., Zwan Marissa D., Bouwman Femke H., van der Flier Wiesje M., Smets Ellen M. A. ABIDE Delphi study: Topics to discuss in diagnostic consultations in memory clinics ALZHEIMERS RESEARCH & THERAPY 2019;11 (1) [PubMed]
  • Henselmans Inge, van Laarhoven Hanneke W. M., van Maarschalkerweerd Pomme, de Haes Hanneke C. J. M., Dijkgraaf Marcel G. W., Sommeijer Dirkje W., Ottevanger Petronella B., Fiebrich Helle-Brit, Dohmen Serge, Creemers Geert-Jan, de Vos Filip Y. F. L., Smets Ellen M. A. Effect of a Skills Training for Oncologists and a Patient Communication Aid on Shared Decision Making About Palliative Systemic Treatment: A Randomized Clinical Trial oncologist 2019 [PubMed]
  • Henselmans Inge, van Laarhoven Hanneke W. M., van der Vloodt Jane, de Haes Hanneke C. J. M., Smets Ellen M. A. Shared decision making about palliative chemotherapy: A qualitative observation of talk about patients' preferences Palliative medicine 2017;31 (7):625-633 [PubMed]
  • Bol Nadine, van Weert Julia C. M., de Haes Hanneke C. J. M., Loos Eugene F., Smets Ellen M. A. The effect of modality and narration style on recall of online health information: results from a Web-based experiment Journal of medical Internet research 2015;17 (4):e104 [PubMed]
  • Hillen M. A., de Haes H. C. J. M., Stalpers L. J. A., Klinkenbijl J. H. G., Eddes E. H., Butow P. N., van der Vloodt J., van Laarhoven H. W. M., Smets E. M. A. How can communication by oncologists enhance patients' trust? An experimental study Annals of oncology 2014;25 (4):896-901 [PubMed]
All Publications
Curriculum Vitae

Prof. dr.  Ellen Smets earned a masters degree (1987) as a social psychologist. Her doctorate thesis at the University of Amsterdam (1997) addressed cancer patients’ radiotherapy related fatigue. From that time, she has been active in research in the field of medical communication. As a researcher she was active in the fields of quality of life, communication, patient satisfaction, information giving and behaviour change counselling. As Principal Investigator she presently coordinates the research line Medical Communication at the department of Medical Psychology of the Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam. Her work has been laid down in numerous research papers. She received grants from, among others, the Dutch Cancer Foundation, the Dutch Heart Foundation and the Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research. Ellen Smets is currently a member of the scientific board of the Dutch Cancer Society, the sientific board of Pink Ribbon and of the board of the Association of Researchers in Psychology and Health. She is the Dutch National representative of the European Association for Communication in Healthcare (EACH). In addition to her scientific work, she teaches medical students regarding health psychology as well as communication skills.


Research programmes

Prof. E.M.A. Smets PhD (Medical Communication)

The overall goal of the Medical Communication research line is to enhance knowledge about the effectiveness of medical communication and thus to further evidence-based medical communication. We consider the following functions as pertinent to medical communication: (1) fostering the relationship, (2) gathering information, (3) providing information, (3) decision making, (5) enabling disease and treatment related behaviour and (6) responding to emotions. Communication is considered effective when it contributes to outcomes related to these functions. Therefore, the research line addresses patient-related outcomes including physical and mental health, satisfaction with health care in general and communication in particular, trust, recall of information,  informed decision making and adherence to medical and lifestyle recommendations. Relevant physician related outcomes include their communicative skills and their satisfaction with their medical performance in general and communication in particular. Increasingly, physiological measures, such as stress related and cardiologic outcomes are addressed.

R.L. Hulsman PhD

I. Henselmans PhD
M.A. Hillen PhD
V. Lehmann
N.C. Visser PhD

PhD Students
M. de Looper
F. Fruijtier

Current research funding
  • AMC
  • Crediteurenadm. VUmc, p/a Profource Service Center
  • KWF Kankerbestrijding
  • NWO (Vrijgesteld)
  • Stichting Amsterdams Universititeitsfonds
  • ZonMw