dr. S.L. (Sanne) Nijhof

dr. S.L. (Sanne) Nijhof

Associate Professor - medical
dr. S.L. (Sanne) Nijhof
  • Social Pediatrics patient care

Research Programs

Child Health



Sanne was trained as a medical doctor (2006), pediatrician (2015) and pediatrician social pediatrics (2020) at the UMC Utrecht. In 2013 she obtained her PhD on her thesis entitled: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in Adolescents – treatment, features and epidemiology.

She adapted an existing face-to-face cognitive behavioral therapy into a novel e-health application under supervison of Dr. van de Putte and Prof. Bleijenberg, which led to the Fatigue In Teenagers on the interNET (FITNET) trial discussed in her thesis in 2013.

In 2013 she received a two-year fellowship for clinical research by the UMC Utrecht, which enabled her to expand her research and to focus on fatigue in other childhood conditions: rheumatology, pulmonology, and oncology. She probed the severity and impact of fatigue and pain, and translated these insights into tailored e-health interventions.

From January 2016 onwards she works as a post-doc, and from October 2019 as associate professor, appointed by the Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital to develop these innovative web-based platforms, and to empower personalized care and clinical research for patients/families with a pediatric chronic of life-threatening disease.

Her research is driven by the hypothesis that (chronic) childhood diseases influence many, if not all, aspects of a child’s life - not only physical, but also social, emotional, educational and economical. This proved an important driver in her professional career as a clinician-researcher. 

Her most recent project is an interdisciplinary project within the UU Dynamics of Youth strategic theme, which focusses on play (‘Healthy play, better coping’). Play is an important part of behavior and is thought to be vital for the healthy development of children. Chronic illnesses, such as cystic fibrosis, juvenile arthritis and cancer can negatively impact children’s physical, social-emotional and cognitive development, beyond the actual illness itself.
This project aims to build a strong network of scholars from various disciplines across the UU campus to help answer our main question on different levels: what is the adaptive functionality of play in children with chronic diseases?
In this consortium there is argued and worked on stimulating or modifying play behavior, either through preventive programs, (applied) games or interactive technology which could enhance adaptation of the child to the stress of a chronic illness to promote short- and long-term cognitive, social-emotional and psychomotor development. They strive for systematic research focusing on healthy play which will help young patients to better cope with the negative consequences of their illness and stimulate healthy development.

Specifically, the relationship of (impaired) play behaviour with psychological functioning of chronically ill children is further assessed in the national interdisciplinary eHealth Junior consortium (awarded with an NWA-ORC grant of 4.9 million, Sanne is one of the three core applicants), in order to provide a solid foundation of knowledge that aid in designing transdiagnostic and personalized eHealth interventions for chronically ill children. Targeted play- and game-interventions will be developed and evaluated to improve resilience in diseased children.

The future goal of Sanne Nijhof is to make evidence based e-health platforms available to all children, treating their fatigue and pain and daily consequences associated with various somatic conditions.

Side Activities

Member of Cyberpoli; giving medical advice to fatigued children and their parents (2014 – onwards)

postgraduate TULIPS  MD PhD curriculum, masterclasses in Paediatric Science organized by the Dutch Pediatric Society (NVK)

Fellowship and Awards

2018   Selected for the Elisabeth Steyn Parvé Program for talented female researcher.

2017   Co-applicant of HUB grant from Dynamics of Youth for the development of our project proposal ‘Healthy play, better coping’ into a position paper within an interdisciplinary team. €75.000. See: Unrestricted grant from patient association ‘Doorgaan met CVID’ and ‘Stichting Koen’ for further development FitNet-plus portal and research. (€18.000) 

2017     Citrienfonds NFU e-Health ‘Digital interaction’, ZonMW: Ecological Momentary Assessments in fatigued children with chronic of life-threatening diseases. (€30.000)

2016     Personal grant 'WKZ Fund': grant application for the conduction of the PRO-active study investigating patient reported outcomes in chronically diseased children. (€150.000)

2015     Personal 'unrestricted grant' from CSL Behring for the development of a FitNet+ portal (€25.000)

2015     International collaboration towards translating and adopting FitNet in English and to facilitate international research on chronic fatigue. Collaborators: Dr. E. Crawley, University of Bristol, UK. Co-applicant of HTA grant Investigating the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of using FitNet to treat paediatric CFS/ME in children in the UK (£999,977.80)

2014     Personal grant for the postgraduate course in translational medicine ‘6th Eureka Annual International Certificate Programme’ organized by Prof. Dr. B Prakken. Siracusa, Sicily, Italy

2013     Personal grant for the two year postgraduate MD PhD course ‘Training Upcoming Leaders In Pediatric Science (TULIPS)’  organized by the Dutch Pediatric Society (NVK)

2013     Personal grant 'UMC Utrecht Fellowship Klinisch Onderzoekstalent' (€60.000): two-year fellowship for clinical research issued by the Board of the UMC Utrecht

In 2013, Dr. Nijhof received a two-year fellowship for clinical research to continue the research on fatigue in combination with her residencies in general pediatrics. This grant was issued by the board of the UMC Utrecht. Aim: to explore the benefits of web-based fatigue treatment in pediatric auto-immune diseases and cancer survivors. International collaboration towards translating and adopting FitNet in English and to facilitate future international research on chronic fatigue.


-         Collin SM, Nijhof SL, van de Putte EM, Crawley E. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or myalgic encephalitis (ME) is different in children compared to adults: a study of UK and Dutch clinical cohorts.  BMJ Open. 2015 Oct;5(10):e008830

 -         Nijhof LN, Wulffraat N, van de Putte EM, Nijhof SL. Prevalence of debilitating fatigue in adolescents with pediatric rheumatic diseases. Arthritis Care and Research. 2015 Aug 28. doi: 10.1002/acr.22710

-         Nijhof LN, Nijhof SL, van de Putte EM. Capita Selecta Kinderarts en   Wetenschap:  summary of article in Dutch. Kinderarts en Wetenschap 16 (2015), 33

2012     Maarten Kapelle Tweeling publication award (€1250) for best clinical research by Dutch Pediatric Society (NVK) 

Research Output (70)

The RISE study protocol:resilience impacted by positive stressful events for people with cystic fibrosis

van der Heijden Els, van den Bor Rutger M, van der Ent Cornelis K, Nijhof Sanne L, van der Laan Sabine E I 1 May 2023, In: ERJ Open Research. 9 11 p.

Self-reported quantity and quality of sleep in children and adolescents with a chronic condition compared to healthy controls

Biemans Camille F M, Nijhof Sanne L, Gorter Jan Willem, Stevens Gonneke J W M, van de Putte Elise, Hoefnagels Johanna W, van den Berg Anemone, van der Ent Cornelis K, Dudink Jeroen, Verschuren Olaf W 26 Apr 2023, In: European Journal of Pediatrics. 182 , p. 3139-3146 8 p.

A cross-sectional study on gaming intensity and social vulnerability in adolescents that have a chronic condition

Alexandridis Dionysis, Nijhof Sanne L, van der Rijst Vincent G, van der Neut Damian Y, Spijkerman Renske, Stevens Gonneke W J M, Bakkes Sander C J, Lesscher Heidi M B, van den Eijnden Regina J J M, van der Ent Cornelis K, van den Berg Gerrit, Peeters Margot 17 Apr 2023, In: Frontiers in Public Health. 11 10 p.

First Experiments with an Applied Gaming Intervention for reducing Loneliness of Children with Chronic Illness:Lessons Learned

Alexandridis Dionysis, Bakkes Sander C.J., Nijhof Sanne L., Van De Putte Elise, Veltkamp Remco C. 12 Apr 2023, p. 1-11 11 p.

Defining and Measuring Resilience in Children with a Chronic Disease:a Scoping Review

van der Laan Sabine E I, Berkelbach van der Sprenkel Emma E, Lenters Virissa C, Finkenauer Catrin, van der Ent Cornelis K, Nijhof Sanne L 10 Apr 2023, In: Adversity and resilience science. 4 , p. 105-123 19 p.

Internet-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy for chronic fatigue among adolescents with a chronic medical condition:a single case study

Nijhof Linde N, Nijhof Sanne L, van de Putte Elise M, Houtveen Jan, van Montfrans Joris M, Knoop Hans 15 Feb 2023, In: Behavioural and cognitive psychotherapy. 51 , p. 259-264 6 p.

Dynamic modeling of experience sampling methodology data reveals large heterogeneity in biopsychosocial factors associated with persistent fatigue in young people living with a chronic condition:Dynamic biopsychosocial associations with fatigue

Vroegindeweij Anouk, Levelt Lisa, Houtveen Jan, Van de Putte Elise M, Wulffraat Nico M, Swart Joost F, Nijhof Sanne L 13 Feb 2023, In: Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 167

Paediatric short fatigue questionnaire, a 4-item fatigue questionnaire for children

Nap-van der Vlist Merel M., Vroegindeweij Anouk, Hoefnagels Johanna W., van der Ent Cornelis K., Swart Joost F., van de Putte Elise M., Nijhof Sanne L. Feb 2023, In: Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 165

Fatigue mediates the relationship between emotional and cognitive functioning in children post-cancer treatment

Greidanus-Jongejan Juliette E M, van Gorp Marloes, van Litsenburg Raphaele R L, Aarsen Femke K, van der Vlist Merel M Nap-, Nijhof Sanne, Grootenhuis Martha A 2023, In: Pediatric Blood & Cancer. 70 7 p.

Longitudinal development of fatigue after treatment for childhood cancer:a national cohort study

Irestorm Elin, van Gorp Marloes, Twisk Jos, Nijhof Sanne, de Bont Judith, Grootenhuis Martha, van Litsenburg Raphaele 2023, In: Acta Oncologica. 62 , p. 1309-1321 13 p.

All research output

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