We work to achieve good quality of life for all. This sometimes requires a different approach, because people are not all the same. That is why we are working towards a society, healthcare system and research that takes account of the differences between people.

Considering the differences between people

Every individual is unique in terms of their age, education, socioeconomic status, sex, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity and physical and mental state. If healthcare and research do not take account of these differences, people’s health will suffer. We work to reduce health disparities by funding research into diversity.

Diversity is about the biological, sociocultural and social differences between people.

Diversity in healthcare

Diversity in patients

The healthcare system was originally set up by and for white, well-educated men. It is therefore important that the system be made more inclusive, so that we can offer everyone the care that is most appropriate for them. Palliative care offers information on research and medical aids that are more broadly applicable. We have also collected knowledge to help care professionals take account of the differences between men and women.

Transgender care

As a result of an increase in the number of transgender people seeking medical care, the wait is now two to three years. Research results can help answer questions about the growing demand for transgender care. For more information on the developments, see our page on transgender care (only available in Dutch).

Diversity in healthcare workers

The healthcare system is under pressure, with staff shortages and a huge workload. We are also seeing health problems among healthcare workers, which cause absence and loss of staff. Studies have shown that poverty, racism, discrimination, gender inequality and debt are leading causes of health problems among healthcare workers. In addition, too little consideration is given to the informal care responsibilities of female healthcare workersBoth publicationsoffer paths to solutions to work towards resolving the problems.

Diversity in society

Differences between people can also play a big role in our society. Some people might feel that they do not belong, if they experience mental health problems for example, or have a disability or chronic condition. It takes a concerted effort from society to ensure that everyone finds their place and feels valued. We need to know more about how best to achieve this. By developing knowledge about inclusion we at ZonMw are helping to create an inclusive society.

Socioeconomic health disparities

Diversity is increasingly taken into account in the Netherlands. Differences in terms of education, income and labour market status create health disparities. People with low socioeconomic status are more likely to have health problems and a shorter healthy life expectancy. Research into disease prevention and health promotion helps reduce these differences. We encourage the development of local networks and effective integrated approaches to reduce health disadvantage.

Arfan Ikram
At ZonMw we are actively working to properly incorporate sex, gender and diversity into our research programming. With the experience we gain, we hope to set an example for other funding bodies.
Arfan Ikram, professor and chair of ZonMw

Diversity in research

If research takes proper account of the differences between people, the results will be more applicable to everyone. This applies particularly to people who cannot take good health for granted. But how can researchers integrate diversity into their studies? It helps to involve different people, such as people with a migrant background. We also have a frequently asked questions page with a collection of information and tools. The tools include e-books  (available in Dutch) for applicants and those assessing applications (available in Dutch), containing tips and checklists to help you give sex, gender and diversity proper consideration in research.

More information on focusing on diversity and inclusion in research.



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If you have any questions, you are able to find our contact information below.

Jacqueline Maschino
maschino [at] zonmw.nl