Julia van Weert researches health communication, focusing specifically on communication with vulnerable groups, especially the elderly. The elderly are particularly prone to a range of diseases, such as cancer. Moreover, communication with vulnerable elderly people is often more complex than with other groups owing to factors such as poorer sight or hearing, but also because many elderly people suffer from multiple diseases and conditions, possess fewer health skills and have greater difficulty processing information. Effective communication and information provision can positively impact the quality of life and the course of illnesses.
Van Weert's research focuses both on offline communication (in the consultation room) and online communication (via the internet etc.). The aim of her research in the next few years is to identify how offline and online communication can be mutually reinforcing, and it will centre on matching information and communication requirements (tailored communication), promoting optimum information processing and facilitating positive emotional and cognitive communication effects. Van Weert will pay specific attention to the added value of new communication strategies, such as eHealth, mHealth and Entertainment Education, and the mechanisms at the core of their efficacy.
Van Weert has been affiliated with the UvA since 2007; since 2011 as a associate professor in Health Communication. She is also leader of the Persuasive Communication programme group. Van Weert previously worked as a researcher affiliated with the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL). She heads the OncoCommunicAging line of research into communication with elderly cancer patients, developed with the support of the Dutch Cancer Society. Her work has been recognised with a number of awards, including the Volksgezondheidsprijs, the Prof. Dr. Schreuder Prijs and the Jozien Bensing Award for outstanding research into communication in healthcare. Results of her research have been published in Patient Education and Counseling, Journal of Medical Internet Research, Journal of Health Communication and Psycho-Oncology, amongst others.