Van Ittersum joins MT of Healthwise

As of November 1 2015, Koert van Ittersum, Professor of Marketing and Consumer Well-Being joined the Management Team of Centre of Expertise Healthwise. Within Healthwise, Van Ittersum will pay specific attention to the role of business in the self-management process of individual’s personal health.


Over the last half century the relationship between an individual’s health and the economic environment has developed dramatically. Starting from a static relationship between a patient and a physician, a shift toward a complex network of actors that influence the ability of individuals to self-manage their physical, emotional and social well-being has been observed. Indeed, individuals currently have ever growing opportunities to monitor their health, customize their diets and employers and schools are offering ever more opportunities to promote healthy life-styles. The shift in thinking about health has contributed to a new, more dynamic, definition of health: “the ability to adapt and to self-manage given the physical, emotional and social challenges in daily life” (Huber et al., 2011).


During his inaugural speech “Marketing and Consumer Well-Being”, Van Ittersum argued that those marketers who do take consumers’ well-being at heart can improve their own bottom-line and financial well-being as well as consumers’ waistline and personal well-being.


Along those same lines, it is proposed that with the shift in thinking about health, significant opportunities arise for business to help individuals in their health self-management process. Firms may contribute in different ways: food manufacturers by producing healthier foods; retailers by offering healthier assortments and facilitating healthier choices; technology firms by developing tools to track and inform individuals; schools and employers by altering their cafeteria to facilitate healthy choices and for instance by endorsing physical exercise, and pharmaceuticals and health insurance firms by introducing goods and services that endorse and facilitate healthy lifestyles.



As such, the potential role of businesses in the self-management process of individual’s personal health will complement the Centre’s research themes “management of care processes” and “economics of public health and healthcare”. So, to date, the focus has been more strongly on the healthcare sector (e.g., hospitals, care homes and other long term care and mental healthcare organizations). The added research theme will focus more on whether and how businesses may help individuals actively prevent needing professional care and as such it replaces the more narrowly defined research theme “Prevention”.