Digital engagement to enhance social inclusion and reduce stigma in dementia

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NetherlandsMaastricht University Netherlands
Early Stage Researcher (ESR10)


Hannah Christie

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Prof. Frans Verhey

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Prof. Marjolein de Vugt 

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Dr. Huibert Tange

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Hannah Christie will be carrying out the project ‘Digital engagement to enhance social inclusion and reduce stigma in dementia’ under the supervision of Professor Frans Verhey and Dr Marjolein de Vugt at Maastricht University.

She attained a Bachelor’s degree (Cum Laude) in Psychology and graduated Magna Cum Laude with an MSc in Clinical and Health Psychology, both from the KU Leuven. Additionally, she completed an Erasmus exchange to the University of Glasgow.

Previously she gained clinical and research experience as an intern at the University Psychiatric Center KU Leuven. Her research interests include dementia, assistive technology, psychosocial interventions and neuropsychological assessment.

Start date September 2016
Duration 36 months


The current project aims to: 1. Study the factors that influence digital engagement of people with signs of dementia and family caregivers to foster social relationships and to be actively engaged in their community. 2. Develop and evaluate a training program to improve the use of technology-based social support tools that fit the needs of the target group, such as Inlife (a social platform designed with and for people with dementia and their caregivers). A current large-scale EU project on access to timely formal care (ACTIFcare; led by the proposed supervisors de Vugt/Verhey/Orrell) shows barriers to accessing formal care in dementia increases burden for family carers. Communication technology has great potential to help people with dementia and carers to develop or strengthen their social network and to keep actively engaged in the community, increasing the social support they urgently need to maintain or improve their quality of life. Many barriers reduce their access to using technology for social interaction. This study will provide the evidence to show how the capacities, interests, and needs of people with dementia and their families can be enhanced to enable them to have better access to and improve interactions with social network technology. It also requires training and support for them to understand what technology can offer and to with the technology.

Expected Results

The project identifies the most effective methods to increase social inclusion by digital engagement of people with very early dementia and family caregivers. A comprehensive training program will facilitate access to social support applications to enhance and strengthen their personal social network and facilitate use of support resources.

Planned secondment(s)

This ESR needs a 3 months secondment M12-M15 to EUmedianet a technology partner with experience of social support applications tools, a development company that is specialized in innovative projects in the media industry. Then for M24-27 with UoN/IMH to work with MindTech to understand practical applications to improve mental health.



Dam, A. E., Christie, H. L., Smeets, C. M., van Boxtel, M. P., Verhey, F. R., & de Vugt, M. E. (2018). Process evaluation of a social support platform ‘Inlife’ for caregivers of people with dementia. Internet Interventions.

Christie, H. L., Bartels, S. L., Boots L.M.M., Tange, H. J., Verhey, F.J. J., de Vugt, M.E. (2018) A systematic review on the implementation of eHealth interventions for informal caregivers of people with dementia. Internet Interventions, Vol. 13, Sept 2018, 51-59, DOI:


Oral presentations

  • Christie, H.L., Bartels, S.L., Boots, L. M., Tange, H. J., Verhey, F. J., & de Vugt, M. E. (2018). “Implementation determinants of eHealth interventions for caregivers of people with dementia: A systematic review.” Oral presentation at Alzheimer’s Disease International Conference, Chicago, U.S.A., 2018.
  • Christie, H.L., Boots, L. M., Tange, H. J., Verhey, F. J., & de Vugt, M. E. (2018). “The importance of organizational and contextual determinants in the implementation of eHealth interventions for caregivers of people with dementia.” Oral presentation at Alzheimer Europe, Barcelona, Spain, 2018. 
  • Christie, H (2017, April) – INDUCT: Interdisciplinary Network for Dementia Using Current Technology. In WYLD Network Symposium – Interdisciplinary Perspectives: Young Investigators on the Road to a Holistic Approach to Dementia Prevention and Care. Symposium conducted at the 32nd International Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International, Kyoto, JP

Poster presentations