Last week, the SRNT Europe conference was held in Oslo which is about research on nicotine and tobacco. I really enjoyed and learned from the presentations and interactions at the conference and on Twitter. Here, I give a brief overview of my takeaways from the conference.

2019-09-12 09.04.07.jpgA large part of the conference was dedicated to e-cigarettes. Two keynote speakers (Lynne Dawkins and Robert West) focused on this topic and several of the sessions had this focus. Although the media were talking about the recent deaths that may have been caused by e-cigarettes, most of the speakers at the conference talked mainly about the benefits of e-cigarettes for people who want to quit smoking tobacco. Speakers at the conference worried about the lack of knowledge among the public about nicotine. Many people incorrectly believe that nicotine is the ingredient in tobacco that is causing most of the harms of smoking. This belief makes people assume that e-cigarettes are equally or more harmful than tobacco, which is not true and makes it less likely that people will benefit from the harm reduction potential of e-cigarettes. The other side of the coin was also highlighted in a meta-analysis on e-cigarettes as a possible gateway to smoking among youth. There was a strong association found between e-cigarette use among youth and later tobacco use, but conclusions about causality cannot be made.

NicotineAnother interesting theme at the conference was preference-based treatment for smoking cessation. Instead of only following evidence-based guidelines for the best aids and ways to quit smoking, we should also listen more to how people want to quit smoking themselves. If adherence to a certain treatment is low this might mean that we need better treatment rather than better adherence, said Peter Hajek. Although e-cigarettes are not that different from other nicotine replacement therapies, some people have a clear preference for one aid over the other. Also, some people may want to quit gradually by reducing the number of cigarettes they smoke per day instead of quitting abruptly. An updated Cochrane review presented at the conference showed that quitting abruptly does not result in superior quit rates than gradual quitting and thus both can be advised, depending on peoples’ preferences. How all this will work in practice remains the question, as preference-based treatment on top of evidence-based treatment asks more from health professionals.

SESThere were not a lot of sessions and only one keynote presentation (by Niamh Shortt) about inequalities in smoking. However, although it was not an important theme of the sessions, the topic did come up a lot during questions to speakers. Many conference delegates asked the presenters how their research relates to the group of smokers with a lower socioeconomic position. This is becoming the most relevant target group in many countries as smoking rates are mainly dropping among people with a higher socioeconomic position. For example, gradually reducing the number of cigarettes per day until you have quit smoking may be more feasible for people with a lower socioeconomic position (who are often more addicted to smoking) than abrupt quitting. In the keynote speech about inequalities, the importance of the environment was stressed and the potential of policies reducing the number of tobacco outlets for decreasing inequalities in smoking.

With the latest Tobacco Products Directive, all EU countries now have pictorial warning labels and many move to the implementation of plain packaging. The research presented at the conference covered these policies and several studies also went a step further by examining new possible packaging policies such as dissuasive cigarettes, efficacy labels (instead of health warning labels), or cigarette pack inserts. First results of studies about these new policies are promising and could be the way forward for a new European Tobacco Products Directive.

Finally, it was nice to see all the activity on the conference hashtag #SRNTE2019 on Twitter. More than 30 delegates were actively tweeting what they heard and learned at the conference. You can see a selection of those tweets below.

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Were you also present at the conference? Feel free to add your takeaways from the conference in the comments section below!


Since I started my research career twelve years ago, I have been combining two research jobs. Since the start, I have worked as a researcher at a university. Additionally, I have been a research & policy advisor at an expert centre for tobacco control, a research methodology teacher at a university of applied sciences, and currently Chief Science Officer of a research institute. I started with a combination of jobs because I wanted to work fulltime and couldn’t do that at the university at that time. Eventually, I got used to the nice variety of tasks, places, and people. Most of the time, I enjoy the combination of my two jobs, but at times it has also been stressful. These three things help me to keep enjoying the combination of two research jobs:

Seek synergy
Ideally your two research jobs together are more than the sum of its parts. In the past, I have worked on knowledge dissemination of the research themes and research projects that I did at my other job. Also, I have had students from one job work as internship on projects from the other job. And currently, I am doing research projects and writing research grant applications together with colleagues from both institutes where I work. It gives me positive energy when I know that there is an added value of having these two jobs.

Be flexible
When you have demanding research jobs with a lot of time pressure and deadlines, you need flexibility. If you have an important deadline for one of your jobs, maybe you can work fulltime on that for one or two weeks and catch up with your other job later that month. Or if you have a conference or a meeting on Thursday while your workday for that job is on Wednesday, you can change your workdays for that week. If your employer or the type of work does not allow you any flexibility, combining this job with another demanding job may be difficult.

Be where you are
Having two research jobs can be stressful, especially when deadlines or other pressures from both jobs keep fighting for attention in your head. If I need the flexibility, I have workdays with meetings for both jobs or when I answer emails from both jobs. But if its not needed, I like to keep my two jobs at separate days. On those days, I try to really ‘be where I am’ and not think about all the things I need to do at my other job. This ‘mindfulness’ can be practiced and helps to keep the stress away.


If you have any other thoughts on how to handle two research jobs, leave them below in the comments section.

Six months ago, I published a blog about how to be the best PhD supervisor you can be. Although this blog was about good PhD supervision practices, I got quite a few responses on that blog about bad PhD supervision practices and how it affected the PhD students who had to deal with that. Through these responses, I discovered that bad PhD supervision practices come in different forms and all seem to have negative effects on PhD students.


I read several recent scientific papers on this subject and came up with four different types of bad PhD supervision practices:


1) Abusive supervision

A PhD supervisor with an abusive supervision style may respond in a rude way, may humiliate people, blame other people for their own mistakes, and/or break promises. This may sound extreme, but it is something that has been reported in several studies. It can be illustrated with a quote from a qualitative study from Finland1: “The supervisor first used a significant part of the seminar yelling at me about how I cannot make decisions about the seminar, that it’s none of my business, that it’s against all principles, that something terrible has now happened, and what do I think I’m doing with my priorities anyway. (…) Then another senior researcher said – and I will always remember this – that my research is trivial, that what I had prepared for my presentation was nothing.” As can be expected, a quantitative study showed that abusive supervision is associated with more anxiety, less psychological well-being, and lower self-esteem among students2.


2) Controlling supervision

PhD students with a controlling supervisor report that they are not allowed to make any research choices on their own1,3. They cannot chose their own topic for their next paper, the methodology or theoretical perspective that they will use, or how they manage their project. This is either because they are told explicitly that they are not allowed to make their own choices, because they are told what to do without opportunity for negotiation, or because their own ideas are torpedoed until the supervisors’ ways are ‘chosen’ by the PhD student. One PhD student explained: “It would be great to be able to truly have a discussion with my supervisor. But it isn’t like that. My supervisor will say: No, no, no, that is not how it goes!1. A large risk of controlling supervision is that it can lower intrinsic motivation and creativity of PhD students4.


3) Passive supervision

A supervision style that may be seen as the opposite of controlling supervision is passive supervision. Supervision may not even be the appropriate term here, because it is characterized by an absence of leadership and avoidance of intervention5. A passive supervisor doesn’t like to make decisions and only intervenes when serious or chronic problems occur. They just let the PhD students do their research and only respond to specific questions without raising issues themselves. Sometimes, passive supervision is not a trait of the supervisor, but a phase in which the supervisor loses interest in the project of the particular student. As one PhD student put it: “Students change and projects change, and supervisors lose interest and move on to new projects in which they have doctoral students, and you are left hanging out there on your own1. Passive supervision may also occur because of time constraints: when supervisors have too many PhD students or are too busy with other tasks1,6. Passive supervision is associated with more psychological distress among PhD students7.


4) Apathetic supervision

A PhD supervisor with an apathetic supervision style lacks commitment or passion for the supervision, the research, and/or the student. This type of supervisor may use ‘short-cuts’ in research or may not be interested in following the latest developments in the research discipline8. An apathetic supervisor may also not really care about PhD students’ well-being as long as the research work is done1. A real risk of apathetic supervision is that PhD students become apathetic as well. A PhD student interviewed for a qualitative study performed in the United States described that “The department became cold, calculating, and lost that humanity9. Students who were once committed and enthusiastic can become frustrated and discouraged8.


The four types that I described above are probably not a full typology of bad PhD supervision practices, but these four types stood out in the literature that I read about bad PhD supervision. Also, I recognized the types from the experiences of PhD students that responded to my previous blog. Hopefully, this blog provides some insight for PhD students who have to deal with bad PhD supervision practices. I don’t have the illusion that supervisors with extremely bad supervision practices read this blog; and if they do read this blog they will probably not change their practices. However, every PhD supervisor may have their own negative tendencies (e.g. being a bit too controlling or a bit too passive) and my hope is that these supervisors are encouraged by this blog to think about how they can improve their supervision.

I would like to hear what you think about this blog and whether you have any other experiences or suggestions. Please respond in the comments section below, on twitter, or send me a message.


1. Löfström, E. & Pyhältö (2014). Ethical issues in doctoral supervision: The perspectives of PhD students in the natural and behavioral sciences. Ethics & Behavior, 24, 195-214.
2. Hobman, E. V., Restubog, S. L. D., Bordia, P., & Tang, R. L. (2009). Abusive supervision in advising relationships: Investigating the role of social support. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 58, 233-256.
3. Gunnarsson, R., Jonasson, G., & Billhult, A. (2013). The experience of disagreement between students and supervisors in PhD education: A qualitative study. BMC Medical Education, 13, 134.
4. Oldham, G. R., & Cummings, A. (1996). Employee creativity: Personal and contextual factors at work. Academy of Management Journal, 39, 607-634.
5. De Hoogh, A. H., Den Hartog, D. N., & Koopman, P. L. (2004). De ontwikkeling van de CLIO: Een vragenlijst voor charismatisch leiderschap in organisaties. Gedrag en Organisatie, 17, 254-281.
6. Bazrafkan, L., Shokrpour, N., Yousefi, A., & Yamani, N. (2016). Management of stress and anxiety among PhD students during thesis writing: A qualitative study. The Health Care Manager, 35, 231-240.
7. Levecque, K., Anseel, F., De Beuckelaer, A., Van der Heyden, J., & Gisle, L. (2017). Work organization and mental health problems in PhD students. Research Policy, 46, 868-879.
8. Aasheim, L. (2011). Practical clinical supervision for counselors: An experiential guide. New York: Springer Publishing Company.
9. Jairam, D. & Kahl, D. H. (2012). Navigating the doctoral experience: The role of social support in successful degree completion. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 7, 311-329.

Dear Dr.

Greetings for the day!!!

Are you also annoyed by the numerous academic spam emails you receive “cordially inviting you to publish your eminent research (a book, follow-up research article, or mini-review)”, asking you to join the editorial board of some obscure open access journal, or welcoming your “gracious presence” at a conference that is not related to your research field? You are not alone.

No spam

What to do about this annoying academic spam? Andrew Grey and colleagues published an intervention study in BMJ’s 2016 Christmas edition examining whether unsubscribing from the sender’s distribution lists led to fewer spam messages. Unsubscribing reduced the frequency of spam messages at first, but hardly changed the frequency on the long term, thus not being worth the effort. The authors concluded that “academic spam is common, repetitive, often irrelevant, and difficult to avoid or prevent.”

Luckily, I have devised the solution to this problem and am happy to share this with the academic research community. I have created a spam filter that works for more than 90% of the academic spam I receive and it rarely identifies a ‘normal email’ as spam. In the past 14 days, I received 57 academic spam emails of which 53 ended up in my spam folder due to my customized spam filter. Below you can see which phrases are in my spam filter. If you want to use an academic spam filter too, you may want to tweak the phrases for the specific spam messages that you receive yourself.

Part 1: Phrases to filter out most of the spam messages about submission requests and editorial board invitations:
articles are invited
come across your recent article
contribute a manuscript
contribute any kind of article
contribute their research
contribute your research
cordially invited
cordially invite you
cordially welcome you
either a research article or a review
excellent scholar as you
followup research article
follow-up research article
glance at your previous
glance at your published
gone through your profile
greeting for the day
greetings for the day
greetings of the day
humbly request you
illustrious people like you
immense pleasure to invite you
in search of qualified researchers
in the upcoming issue
inaugural issue
invite you to contribute an article
invite you to publish with us
inviting you to publish your research
is a peer-reviewed open-access journal
is a peer reviewed open access journal
is an international peer-reviewed open-access journal
is an international peer reviewed open access journal
join as editorial board member
join the editorial board
join us as an author
join us as author
look at your previous article
mini review
now accepting research papers
now accepting submissions
our journal accepts articles
part of our editorial board
precious paper
prepare an article on a different topic
preparing an article to submit
prominent people like you
publish books
publishing a followup
publishing a follow-up
publishing enquiry
publishing in our upcoming issue
request for manuscripts
request for submission
serve the journal as editorial board member
submission request
submissions for upcoming
submit a short review
submit an article
submit your manuscript
submit your research
value your outstanding contribution
we accept original research
we have gone through your recent publication
we invite and publish original research
welcome to submit short
welcome your manuscript
with reference to your article
your gracious presence
your impressive scientific publication
your valuable article
your valuable contribution
your valuable research

Part 2: Phrases for reminder spam messages*:
have not heard back from you
not received any response from you
not yet received any response from you
we contacted you earlier but
we did not get your response
* don’t use these phrases if you don’t respond to other types of emails and do want reminder messages for that!

Part 3: Phrases for specific fields and conferences you are not interested in. These should be customized to the fields and conferences you receive spam messages about. For me they are:
conference on cancer
congress on cancer
economic and business
food technology
medical research archives
medicine conference
statin therapy

How it works? You just create a rule in your email program (find out the technical details here) and make sure that if the above (or customized) phrases are in an email they are automatically moved to your spam folder. You might want to check this folder now and then to make sure that it does not contain email that is of interest to you.

Are you going to use this life hack for researchers? Or do you have other solutions to the problem of academic spam? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.

Where I come from, PhD supervision is often done in a team with one or two professors together with a post-doctoral researcher or assistant professor who is the ‘daily supervisor’ (or co-promotor) of the PhD student. There is no manual for this daily PhD supervision task and there are few courses that tell you what you should and what you shouldn’t do. Often, PhD supervisors just do the things that they appreciated from their own PhD supervisor and try to do other things differently. However, sometimes it becomes a bit of a trial-and-error process which is not always good for the PhD student.

I started as a PhD supervisor four years ago. My first PhD student is now graduated and I am currently supervising five others. I learned a lot from these experiences, but of course I am still a relative beginner with this. Then why did I wrote a blog with such a pretentious title? First of all, it was just meant to attract your attention and make sure you clicked on the link to this blog (so far, I succeeded). Second, I think it is important that we try to be the best PhD supervisor we can be. Lately, there is a lot of media coverage on rising stress levels and mental health problems among PhD students and I also see this happening around me. This makes me worried and I think that making an effort as PhD supervisors is the most important thing we can do. Five other things that I learned in the past four years can be read below.

1. Be available, open, and reliable
To start simple, my first tip is to be available, open, and reliable. This means answering PhD students’ emails (within reasonable time) and making time for regular meetings, but it also means creating an environment in which they feel save to be open and to ask you anything that they worry about. Be honest if you don’t know the answer to one of their questions and help them with finding an answer elsewhere. Be vulnerable and do sometimes talk with them about your own struggles too.

2. Learn, evaluate, and adapt
If there is a course on PhD supervision available, I would suggest to take it. I took a two-day course when I just started as a PhD supervisor and am happy I did that. You can also learn from other PhD supervisors by talking with them about how they approach things. However, the most important person that you can learn from is your PhD student. I think it is important to realize that the same approach does not work for everyone. So evaluate with your PhD students about what they think about your supervision and adapt your style accordingly. This may sound like you should do everything that your PhD students want you to do, which is obviously not the case (e.g. you do not want to write their thesis for them). But the way in which you do things can sometimes make a big difference.

3. Ask about daily worries and activities
Probably more than half of the time that I spend with my PhD students is not spend discussing the content of their PhD research. I try to focus more on their daily worries and activities and on teaching them skills instead of knowledge. Ask them how they are doing, what they are doing, and what they need help with. Not all PhD students will tell you if something is up, so try to observe too. The look on someone’s face when they walk into your door often reveals a lot. Don’t be scared to tell them what you see and ask what’s going on. Of course, you can be wrong too. I once thought that something was terribly wrong with a PhD student when he walked into my office, but it turned out that he just thought it was very cold in my office…

4. Let them make their own choices
In my opinion, a PhD thesis should really be a product of the PhD student and not of the supervisors. Therefore, I think it is important to let PhD students make their own choices in their research and writing. If they ask for advice on the content of their PhD research, ask them what they think first (I know this is annoying, but important nonetheless). Then explain their options and the consequences of different choices, but do not make the choices for them. This is not always possible when one of the choices is clearly the best choice, but try to let them draw that conclusion themselves.

5. Watch out for warning signs
No matter how good of a PhD supervisor you are, you cannot always prevent a burnout or other mental health problems from occurring. PhD students who are perfectionists and are very tough for themselves, are likely to go through something like that one day. Even though you cannot always prevent it, it is important to watch out for warning signs (like tiredness, health problems, working through the weekends, panic, and frustration). Tell them if you are worried about their mental health and be supportive. Have you experienced something like this yourself? Then open up and talk about how you’ve coped and what you’ve learned from this. Explain to them that it is important to switch off from work during evenings, weekends, and vacations.

PhD supervision

Hopefully this blog inspired you to be the best PhD supervisor you can be. I am curious to hear whether you’ve learned something from this blog and whether you have any other advice about PhD supervision. Please respond below in the comments section or send me a message on Twitter.

Earlier this week, the World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCToH) was held in Capetown, South Africa. It was a conference with long twelve-hour days filled with inspiring presentations. It was great to reconnect with researchers and advocates around the world, to see some of them in person for the first time after having worked with them through email and skype, and to make some new connections. There were many parallel sessions at the conference, so this conference report reflects only the part of the sessions that I could attend.20180307_092545

One of the things that I like about the WCToH conferences, besides the science, is hearing about the experiences, strategies, and aspirations of researchers and advocates around the world. That’s why I attended several sessions that dealt with tobacco endgames. Tobacco endgames are strategies to end tobacco use in the population or at least bring it back to negligible proportions. There are many different possible strategies that can be used and there is no agreement about the best strategy. For example, some countries choose to make use of reduced-harm products (such as e-cigarettes and potentially heat-not-burn tobacco) to achieve the endgame of a tobacco-free country, while other countries want to have a nicotine-free country. What the different endgame strategies presented at the conference do seem to have in common are that increasing tobacco taxes is at the core of the strategies to reduce tobacco use in the population, while at the same time making sure that population groups in which smoking rates are higher get the support they need to be able to quit. Endgames are a relatively new concept in tobacco control and the first conference that I heard about them was the ECToH conference in Amsterdam in 2011, while the SRNT conference in Boston in 2013 was the first conference that I attended that really started to focus on endgames. In comparison with previous conferences, it is clear that the strategies are becoming more detailed and better underpinned with research, such as simulation studies. An example is the presentation by Dr. Michael Chaiton who’s analyses of Canadian data not only predict a drop in tobacco use prevalence, but also a drop in the number of cigarettes people smoke per day, making the smokers’ population less and less dependent. Presentations by Deborah Arnott from the UK and Kylie Lindorff from Australia made clear that a tobacco-free generation could be near in these countries, where smoking rates among youth have dropped to 5%.

WCToH2018 ecigarettes and youthI also attended a few sessions about electronic cigarette use among youth, which were very interesting sessions in which high-quality research was presented. Dr. Cathy Backinger presented an overview of several longitudinal studies that have now shown that youth who start with using e-cigarettes are more likely to start using tobacco later on. There is no consensus about what this actually means. It could mean that e-cigarette use is a gateway to tobacco smoking (the catalyst hypothesis), but this is not necessarily the case. It could also mean that youth who experiment with one product are more likely to experiment with another product (the common liability hypothesis). It does not seem feasible to establish with research which explanation is right. This would require an experimental design in which children are randomized to start with e-cigarettes, which would be unethical. We can, however, examine population trends. In the UK and the US, e-cigarette use among youth is rising while tobacco use among youth is declining. Prof. Ron Borland made the point that this makes the catalyst or gateway hypothesis unlikely or at least the effect could not be very large. Another possibility is the diversion hypothesis, which states that e-cigarette use could have a preventive effect among youth because some youth may use these products instead of using tobacco. Although this hypothesis was posed during the discussion, no evidence was presented that this may be the case. Therefore, many presenters agreed that whether or not e-cigarettes are a gateway to tobacco use, it is undesirable that young non-smokers use these products that do contain harmful ingredients.

Many other important and interesting themes were discussed during the conference. For example, how to reduce tobacco use among vulnerable populations such as lower educated people, homeless people, street children, and elderly. Recent tactics of the tobacco industry were discussed, such as bribery of ministers and journalists and the tobacco-industry funded ‘Foundation for a Smokefree World’. International Women’s Day was celebrated with a speech by the first black female president of the conference, Dr. Flavia Senkugube, and keynote presentations by Dr. Judith Mackay, Dr. Lorraine Greaves, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, and Malebona Precious Matsoso.

WCToH2018 symposium early career

My own contribution to the conference was a poster about the long road to smokefree bars in the Netherlands and a symposium for early career researchers. In the symposium, I presented about writing academic papers, grant proposals, and blog posts. In this same symposium, Prof. Ruth Malone (chief-editor of the scientific journal Tobacco Control) presented about publishing academic papers. Dr. Ute Mons presented about public health advocacy, in which the main message was to be proactive, persistent and passionate about the dissemination of your research. Dr. Becky Freeman presented about the professional use of social media. She argued that it is important to consider your digital footprint when you are a researcher (so set up a Google Scholar account and join the Twitter conversation).


It has been an amazing conference and it was a great experience that it was held in Cape Town, which was a first for the WCToH conference to be held on the African continent. The next WCToH conference will be held in Dublin, Ireland, in March 2021. I am already looking forward to it!

In 2017, we performed a study to determine which preconditions and success factors should be taken into account when developing lifestyle interventions for people with a low socioeconomic status (SES). With preconditions and success factors we do not mean the behavior change methods themselves, but everything else you need to consider to make sure that people actually use your intervention. Because it is very difficult to investigate empirically which preconditions are most important (you would need an experiment with many conditions), we asked experts to reach consensus about this topic. We only asked experts from the Netherlands, because we thought that the answers may be culture-specific and because we wanted to use the results directly for the development of our own local lifestyle intervention. The academic paper about this study was published in a Dutch-language journal, but I got permission from the journal to share the results in English on my blog.

Poppetjes met tandwielenHow we did it
To come up with a list of Dutch experts in lifestyle change among people with a low SES, we performed a search in PubMed. Our search strategy contained MESH terms for socioeconomic status, smoking, physical activity, nutrition, and alcohol, and a search term for the Netherlands. Experts were included if they published at least five papers on these topics in the last five years. This resulted in a list of 54 experts who were invited to take part in the study. Three experts were added because they were spontaneously mentioned by other experts on the list. We performed a three-round Delphi study, which is a method to reach consensus using questionnaires. In the first round, 28 of the experts participated and they gave open answers on the question what important preconditions are for lifestyle interventions for people with a low SES. These open answers were summarized in categories and presented to the experts in the second round. In the second round, all 28 participated again and they were asked to rate all preconditions on a scale from 1 (very unimportant) to 7 (very important). In the third round, 26 of the experts participated. Experts were only presented the preconditions on which no consensus was reached during the second round and they were shown the answers from the rest of the experts during the second round before they were asked to give their rating again. In line with previous research, we decided that an interquartile deviation (IQD) of 1 or lower was seen as consensus and that a median of 6 or higher was seen as an important precondition.

What we found
In the first round, 196 open answers were given, which could be summarized in 36 categories. The most mentioned preconditions during the first round were that intervention developers should take the daily worries and domestic situation of the participants into account and that they should keep the price of participation very low or make it free. During the second and third round combined, the experts reached consensus about the importance of 22 of the 36 mentioned preconditions for a lifestyle intervention for people with a low SES. Of the 22 preconditions on which consensus was reached, 17 were rated as important. A summary of those 17 preconditions can be seen in Table 1. Interventions should be well prepared, accessible, should use easy materials, and have a large and sustainable reach. Table 2 gives all results that were obtained during the three questionnaire rounds.

Table 1: Summary of the 17 preconditions on which consensus was reached that they are important.

Table 1 TSG

Table 2: All results of the Delphi rounds 1, 2, and 3.
Table 2 TSG

What this means
The results of our study were not very surprising and very much in line with the literature, but that is of course a good sign and a logical consequence of asking experts who regularly publish on this topic what they know. What I thought was interesting, is that experts did not reach consensus about the importance of a theoretical basis for the development of an intervention. It seemed that the experts thought it is more important to listen to the target group and involve them in the development than to use theoretical insights. Another interesting result is that ten of the 28 experts mentioned during the first round that it is a good idea to work with (financial) incentives for participation or for successes. It was the third most mentioned precondition. Despite that, consensus was not reached about the importance of this precondition, implying that more research is needed on the differential effectiveness of incentives for people with a low SES (which was also concluded in a recent meta-analysis).

Some limitations
Even though this is a blog and not an academic paper, I feel compelled to point out a few limitations of our study. First, only half of the invited experts participated in our study. Second, only experts were invited who published at least five academic papers in the last five years. Therefore, only scientists could participate and we don’t know whether the same preconditions are considered important among other groups. Finally, it is possible that (some) experts have given socially desirable responses instead of their real opinion. An indication is that all preconditions scored a median of 4 on a scale from 1 (very unimportant) to 7 (very important), even though there were preconditions in the list that contradicted each other.

What we can conclude
The results of this study give some important directions for which preconditions are most important in the development of lifestyle interventions for target groups with a low SES. The 17 most important preconditions on which consensus was reached are summarized in Table 1. In short: interventions should be well prepared, accessible, should use easy materials, and have a large and sustainable reach. Future research should repeat this type of analysis in other countries and among other target groups and should also collect qualitative data to get more insight into why and how these preconditions are important, for example by performing qualitative in-depth interviews.

Where you can find more information (in Dutch)
Nagelhout, G. E., Verhagen, D., Loos, V., & De Vries, H. (2018). Belangrijke randvoorwaarden bij de ontwikkeling van leefstijlinterventies voor mensen met een lage sociaaleconomische status: Een Delphi-onderzoek. Tijdschrift voor Gezondheidswetenschappen, 96, 37-45.