Dr. Sanne Nijhof


Kinderarts en (postdoc) onderzoeker | UMC Utrecht

Sanne Nijhof

The research of dr. Sanne Nijhof is driven by the hypothesis that (chronic) childhood diseases influence many, if not all, aspect of a child’s life - not only physical, but also social, emotional, educational and economical. Ever since the final stage of her medical study she got inspired by the social aspects of pediatrics. She adapted an existing face-to-face cognitive behavioral therapy into a novel web-based therapeutic modality, which led to the Fatigue In Teenagers on the interNET (FITNET) trial discussed in her thesis in 2013. The PhD focused on adolescent chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and was a success owing to the collaboration with many disciplines in the development of the FITNET web-portal; both medical and non-medical (psychologists, ICT, basic researchers, patients). The cornerstone of the thesis was a randomized clinical trial to investigate the effectiveness of FITNET, of which the results were published in the Lancet (2012). Web-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) proved to be effective, and significantly more successful than usual care. Furthermore, these outcomes proved sustainable at long term follow-up. The relatively quick recovery is crucial during adolescence, when school attendance and social contacts are important for social and academic development.

Over the past two years, she focused on fatigue in other childhood conditions. Currently, she supervises two PhD’s (appointed through a fellowship clinical research (2014) and a personal grant (WKZ fonds, 2016) who focus on the intriguing relationship between fatigue, pain, societal participation and inflammation in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, cystic fibrosis and childhood cancer (on-going studies). The future goal of Sanne Nijhof is to make evidence based e-health platforms available to all children, treating their fatigue and pain associated with various somatic conditions. From January 2016 onwards she works as a post-doc appointed by the Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital to develop these innovative web-based platforms, and to empower personalized care and clinical research for patients/families with a pediatric chronic of life-threatening disease. As of then she also works as a general pediatrician with a focus on social pediatrics and rheumatology/immunology.