Interview Prof. Dr. Robert Schoevers
‘We do a lot of research into what cause mental disorder, how it then develops and whether we can find meaningful subtypes that would lead to better treatments. We are very interested in new ways of looking at psychopathology, and potential new interventions. We are looking at the full continuum. A lot of our clinical research focuses on the most persistent conditions and patients, whereas in research we also collaborate with many societal partners to work on better prevention. It is vital that we invest in reducing the prevalence of psychopathologic conditions at a population level. Right now, the numbers are staggering.’
Robert notes that, just as with many other conditions, for psychiatric disorders, the burden of disease is the highest for people with a lower socioeconomic status and people with a less healthy lifestyle, which often goes hand in hand. Furthermore, mood disorders, in particular depression, are twice as likely to be developed by women as men. Depression is one of the most prevalent disorders with an extremely high disease burden, especially for people with chronic depression who do not respond well to treatment. Chronic depression comprises about 80% of the disease burden for depression. ‘And that’s where you want to innovate’, says Robert.
‘To innovate, you need research, and for research, you need a steady infrastructure.'
- Prof. Dr. Robert Schoevers, Professor of Psychiatry and Head of Department Psychiatry of the University Medical Center Groningen
A steady infrastructure
‘To innovate, you need research, and for research, you need a steady infrastructure of professionals and treatment facilities. In practice, it is difficult to set up an infrastructure and find funding for it as an individual researcher or organisation; a situation that many people will recognise.’ Robert says that working within a larger network provides four driving factors for innovation: 1) sharing knowledge with patients, society and professionals; 2) educating people on new interventions; 3) a collective data infrastructure that allows us to look at problems on an aggregated level between all parties involved; 4) shared financing that will also elicit more commitment from parties that are not used to working under these circumstances. ‘These factors are crucial for the field as they allow us to boost innovation. Everyone, industrial partners, clinical partners and patients, will benefit from these developments. For that reason, we hope that our current PPS proposal will be funded as a start of such a comprehensive collaboration.’
This interview is one of many interviews in our recently published Year in Preview. Curious about the other subjects in our online magazine? Take a look now!