Good care is patient-centred. However, a lot still goes wrong in the mutual coordination between healthcare professional and patient. The Research Group Relational Care studies how to improve relationships in healthcare.

About the resarch group

Everyone wants good care for themselves and their loved ones. Care that meets personal needs. Care in which the patient and the healthcare professional pay attention to each other, coordinate and make an effort to understand each other. From a valuable relationship, this ‘person-centred care’ can contribute to the recovery process and good care.

Promoting person-centred care

The Research Group Relational Care is committed to promoting person-centred care. To provide person-centred care, both the relationship of the healthcare professional with the patient and their social network, as well as the relationship of the healthcare professional with other healthcare and welfare professionals are subjects of discussion. The research group wants to study how caregivers can listen to and coordinate with the patient so they can understand well what kind of support the patient needs. Coordination takes place throughout the entire care process, not just during the initial examination. Seeing the other person again and again, and coordinating again, is important in order to achieve appropriate support or treatment.

Healthcare professionals encounter many different patients, each with their own story and background. What suits this patient best? How do I find out what this patient needs? How do I want to enter into a relationship with this patient? The Research Group Relational Care will focus on these practical questions of healthcare professionals. To better understand the fundamental meaning of the relational in healthcare and to put it more broadly on the agenda, the research group collaborates with a range of healthcare professionals, care institutions, designers and companies, with a natural connection of the research group to education.

Foto team
Yvonne van Zaalen

About the professor

dr. Yvonne van Zaalen

Yvonne van Zaalen (1966) studied speech therapy at the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences and speech therapy science at Utrecht University’s Faculty of Medicine. In 2009, she received her PhD from Utrecht University’s Faculty of Humanities. Since 2006, she has been involved in developing the vision of practice-oriented research, research ethics, patient participation, research data management and the design of interprofessional education within various degree programmes in universities of applied sciences. She has extensive experience in national and international research on multidisciplinary and interprofessional collaborations in healthcare. Yvonne focuses on the full involvement of the end user/patient alongside the other stakeholders.

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From 'What can I do for you?' to 'Who can I be for you?'


Natasja van Lobenstein

Natasja van Lobenstein

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Peter Renden

Peter Renden

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Natalie Janse

Natalie Janse

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Natalie Janse

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Portretfoto Roukayya Oueslati

Roukayya Oueslati

Portretfoto Caroelien Schuurman

Caroelien Schuurman


11 February 2023

Lecturer Yvonne van Zaalen encourages a change in thinking about healthcare during inaugural lecture


Inspired, resolute and quirky. That is typical of Yvonne van Zaalen, lecturer in Relational Care. And her inaugural…
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18 January 2023

New and better relationships in healthcare


Healthcare is changing. There is less time for physical moments of contact, and digital care is becoming increasingly…
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