dr. Eline Smit (co-director & secretary)

  • Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
    CW : Persuasive Communication
  • Nieuwe Achtergracht  166
    1018 WV  Amsterdam
  • E.S.Smit@uva.nl

Name: Dr. Eline S. Smit (secretary)
PhD: 2012, Maastricht University
Promotor: Prof. Hein de Vries
Co-promotor(s): Dr. Ciska Hoving
MSc: 2007, Maastricht University
Research: My PhD research concerned the development, effectiveness and feasibility of a web-based computer-tailored smoking cessation program and its integration in the primary care setting (www.phdthesis.nl/eline). After obtaining my PhD in 2012, I continued to work at Maastricht University as a postdoctoral researcher, a function for which I received a personal grant from research institute CAPHRI. In 2014, I started working as an Assistant Professor in Health Communication at the University of Amsterdam. In this position, my main research interests continue to concern digital health communication, including but not limited to online computer-tailored health communication. Specifically, my research focuses on the integration of innovative digital health communication strategies – such as eHealth and mHealth interventions – into the healthcare setting and the exploration of novel computer-tailoring strategies, such as mode and message frame tailoring. I have obtained multiple grants for research projects in the digital health communication field, among which a VENI grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).
Specialties: web-based, lifestyle, intervention, computer-tailoring, primary care, motivation

Projects: Below is a list of the research projects I am (or was) involved in as a researcher and/or supervisor:

  • Tailoring message frames in online health communication (personal VENI grant)

An unhealthy lifestyle is the main cause of chronic diseases, resulting in reduced quality of life and preventable healthcare costs. As budgets for healthcare become increasingly limited, low-cost lifestyle improvement strategies are needed. A strategy proven to be (cost-)effective is online individually tailored health communication. To date, tailoring entailed adjusting what information was provided, but overall effects remain small. This project will therefore venture in a new direction by moving towards tailoring how information is provided.

Specifically, this project will investigate effects of message frame tailoring based on need for autonomy, a theoretical construct derived from Self-Determination Theory. Individual differences in need for autonomy are profound when it concerns health decisions: while some people prefer to choose their own path towards lifestyle improvement, others prefer to be guided by clear-cut expert advice. To be able to tailor message frames based on these differences, I will conduct several studies within this project focusing both on decreasing unhealthy behaviour and increasing healthy behaviour.

  • Principal Investigator: Dr. Eline Smit
  • Status: ongoing since Spring 2016
  • Funding agency: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
  • Total amount of grant money: €250.000


  • Developing and testing of a decision aid to improve evidence-based smoking cessation support tool uptake and quit rates in smokers intending to quit (PhD research project)

Tobacco smoking is the most prevalent cause of preventable non communicable diseases, like cancer. Many Dutch smokers therefore attempt to quit smoking, but only 4-10% of these quit attempts are successful. Evidence-based smoking cessation support tools, such as pharmacotherapy, counseling and online interventions, have been shown to double the chance of successful quitting. However, Dutch smokers’ use of evidence-based cessation support tools is low, as many of them are unaware of the existence of or hold incorrect beliefs regarding evidence-based cessation support tools.

Furthermore, even after smokers become motivated to use evidence-based support tools, they will still need to select tools that best suit their individual preferences. Therefore, the aim of this PhD Project is to develop a web-based decision aid that 1) motivates smokers to apply evidence-based cessation support tools when quitting and 2) helps smokers to choose smoking cessation support tools that are in line with their personal preferences.

  • PhD student: Thomas Gültzow
  • Principal Investigator: Dr. Ciska Hoving
  • Promotor: Prof. Carmen Dirksen
  • Co-promotor(s): Dr. Ciska Hoving & Dr. Eline Smit
  • Status: ongoing since fall 2016
  • Funding agency: Dutch Cancer Society
  • Total amount of grant money: €405.600


  • Good Better Best; Inventory of active elements in smoking cessation programs in primary health care to support Decisions in Primary Care Stop Smoking Support (postdoc project)

 The National Prevention Agreement strives for a Smoke-Free Generation by 2040. Primary care providers, such as GPs and midwives, can help with this by guiding their smoking clients to quit smoking. Several effective programs have been developed, but it is not clear why these programs work and under what conditions.

By performing a Realist Evaluation, we identify which (combinations of) program elements have a positive effect on A) the smoking cessation behavior of smokers B) the smoking cessation support of primary care providers. The content of existing programs is compared to a list of proven effective behavioral change strategies, as described by Susan Michie and colleagues.

In this way we develop a program theory about the effective elements of smoking cessation programs and which conditions are necessary for a positive effect. This information can be used to select or develop appropriate programs for smokers and health care providers.

  • Postdoctoral researchers: Dennis de Ruijter & Enrique Mergelsberg
  • Principal Investigator (PI): Dr. Ciska Hoving
  • Co-PIs: Dr. Matty Crone & Dr. Eline Smit
  • Status: completed
  • Funding agency: ZonMw
  • Total amount of grant money: €49.525
  • Taking online computer-tailoring forward: The effectiveness of message frame tailoring in online smoking cessation communication (PhD research project)

Tobacco smoking is the most prevalent cause of preventable non communicable diseases, like cancer. Online computer-tailored interventions have already shown to be (cost-)effective in improving smoking cessation, over and above more static health communication, but effect sizes remain small. The large majority of the tailored interventions developed and tested so far only tailor the content of the advice (what information should be provided), but not the presentation or framing of that advice (how should the information be communicated).

As shown in previous research, individuals differ substantially in terms of information processing preferences as their need for autonomy. By applying message frame tailoring based on this need for autonomy – in addition to content tailoring – information can be presented in an even more personalised way, taking information processing preferences into account and yielding more positive effects on health behaviour. This project therefore aims to develop and test an online tailoring program including both content tailoring and message frame tailoring.

See also: www.persoonlijkstopdavies.nl

  • PhD student: Maria Altendorf, MSc.
  • Principal Investigator: Dr. Eline Smit
  • Promotor: Prof. Julia van Weert
  • Co-promotor(s): Dr. Eline Smit & Dr. Ciska Hoving
  • Status: completed
  • Funding agency: Dutch Cancer Society
  • Total amount of grant money: €236.600


  • Adherence makes perfect: Improving practice nurses’ adherence to smoking cessation guidelines (PhD research project)

To aid smokers to quit, effective smoking cessation interventions such as the provision of smoking cessation advice by general practice staff, are essential. Within the general practice, preventive tasks are often delegated to practice nurses (PNs). PNs increase the quality of care and relieve general practitioners from their excessive workload. Yet, adherence to smoking cessation guidelines is often suboptimal. As intervention impact can be defined as Effect x Reach x Implementation, this results in restrictive effects on public health.

Guideline adherence can be predicted by environmental, organizational and innovation factors, as well as individual PN characteristics. Computer tailoring is effective in influencing such characteristics, providing respondents with personalized feedback adjusted to their individual situation and beliefs. Additionally, the delivery of interventions through the Internet enables a large reach against low cost, and the possibility for respondents to use the intervention at times that are convenient to them. Therefore, this project aims to develop and test a CT intervention aimed to improve PNs’ rates of adherence to the STIMEDIC guideline, a recently disseminated evidence-based Dutch smoking cessation guideline for health professionals

See also: www.sterstudie.nl

  • PhD student: Dennis de Ruijter, MSc.
  • Principal Investigator: Dr. Ciska Hoving
  • Promotor: Prof. Hein de Vries
  • Co-promotor(s): Dr. Ciska Hoving & Dr. Eline Smit
  • Status: completed
  • Funding agency: Dutch Cancer Society
  • Total amount of grant money: €400.000


  • From extrinsic to intrinsic motivation to quit smoking’ (personal grant)

Worldwide, the smoking of tobacco is the most preventable cause of illness and premature death. As smokers intrinsically motivated to quit smoking are more successful in quitting than extrinsically motivated smokers, knowledge of the determinants of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to quit is essential to increase cessation rates.

Therefore, the goal of this project was to identify the determinants of both types of motivation and to use the findings to inform the improvement of existing (web-based) smoking cessation interventions and the development of new interventions.

  • Principal Investigator: Dr. Eline Smit
  • Status: completed
  • Funding agency: School for Public Health and Primary Care CAPHRI
  • Total amount of grant money: €100.000