Prof. Dr. Elke Van Hoof: Biological Psychology
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Department of Psychology
Pleinlaan 2
B - 1050 Brussel
Office: 3C234
Phone: + 32 (0) 479 99 12 19
Office Phone 0032 (2) 629 25 20
Skype: profdrelkevanhoof


Masters in Psychological and Educational Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium, 1999.
Doctoral thesis in Clinical Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 2003.

Additional training:

  • Clinical psychodiagnostics in adults, KULeuven, Belgium, 2007.
  • Trauma focused Cognitive behavioral Therapy, Leuven, Belgium, 2006.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, Belgian Institute for Psychotrama and EMDR, Belgium, 2005.
  • Prevention and treatment of Psychotrauma, Belgian federation for Psychology, Belgium, 2004.


  • Health Psychology


    Identification of a vulnerability in persons when dealing with (stressful) life-events
    Offering adequate care and support to the most eligible persons at the right time in the care trajectory can enhance the efficiency of the current care models. It also could prevent psychosocial distress and even the development of psychopathology in persons confronted with (stressful) life-events. Moreover, it could offer insight into the mechanisms that lead to psychosocial distress and the development of psychopathology when confronted with (stressful) life events. Protective as well as facilitating factors may play a role. Why do some persons respond with an increased vulnerability when confronted with (stressful) life events? How can we define and identify this increased vulnerability? How do we adapt current care models in order to reduce this vulnerability or optimize early diagnosis and detection?
    Current research focuses on factors that lead to an increased vulnerability to respond with anxiety and depression when confronted with a chronic medical condition and/or life-threatening condition. One of the central goals is to define a functional approach to the underlying mechanisms, resilience and regulaton in daily life. A second reseach focus is the influence of temperament (highly sensitive processing) on adapting to (stressful) life-events.
    Stress and stress-related disorders
    Stress can be identified as a causal factor or a factor that significantly influences prognoses and progression of conditions. Research into the importance of heart-rate variability and hypervigilance of the stress-system tries to provide in-depth information on the association between the physiology of stress, chronic conditions and behaviour.
    Current research focuses on the use of EMDR as well as the importance of the recovery speed of the HPA-axis in chronic fatigue disorders (bunrout, chronic fatigue syndrome, trauma,) using validated questionnaires as well as biofeedback measures.
    A patient-centered stepped care approach in cancer through screening of distress
    More than one third of cancer survivors reported some or strong needs. Survivors’ highest needs concerned the physical and psychological functioning. Survivors’ top five care needs was completed by the topics self and body image, return to work and sexuality. The care needs of survivors and partners existed throughout the entire illness trajectory, ranging from diagnosis, over breast cancer treatment, until 6 months after completion of treatment. Characterization of survivors who are more inclined to report care needs is possible based based upon a wide range of physical and psychosocial characteristics: e.g. physical side effects, fatigue, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, self-efficacy, body image, future perspective, illness representations, social support, and coping strategies.
    Current research focuses in a step-care approach for screening of distress (assessment versus screening) in order to facilitate realy diagnosis of psychosocial distress in cancer.
  • Transmural clinical pathways for psychosocial care in oncology
    The transition from care within a hospital setting to care at home is experienced as very stressful, non-coherent and challenging for all those involved.  This research project used the already scientifically sound approach to identify and create clinical pathways in order to identify, implement and evaluate a psychosocial clinical care pathway in oncology.
    Current research focuses on the identification and implementation of a psychosocial clinical care pathway in oncology.
  • Transition from patient into survivorship in cancer
    In literature, little attention has been paid to the well-being and the care needs of rehabilitating breast cancer survivors and their intimate partners shortly after completion of primary treatment. However, the scarce studies focusing on this stage of the illness trajectory indicated that the transition into survivorship poses particular challenges to breast cancer survivors as well as their intimate partners. As a consequence, adequate psychosocial care aimed at supporting survivors and partners during this transition phase is essential.
    Current research focuses on psychosocial, rehabilitation and return to work aspects of survivorship. The first goal concernes the comprehensive identification of breast cancer survivors’ and their partners’ needs for information and support, as well as their preferences regarding post-treatment care provision. The studies aimes at identifying the sociodemographic, medical and psychosocial characteristics indicative of survivors’ and partners’ post-treatment care needs.
  • A transmural ergotherapeutic intervention to facilitate reintegration and participation in cancer
    Return to work or reintegration is regarded as a challenge for many cancer survivors.  For those people for which return to work is less relevant, the facilitation of participation (in dalily life) is an issue.
    Current research focuses on the feasibility of including an ergotherapeutic intervention to optimize reintegration and participation in cancer survivors.


List of Publications

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