Professor Hendriek Boshuizen (1957) is a senior statistician at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) who is working on modelling effects of prevention (including nutrition) on chronic illnesses. In addition to her position at RIVM, she has been professor by special appointment for Biostatistic modelling in Nutrition research at Wageningen University, partly at Human Nutrition and partly at Biometris, since 2011.
Quantitative information is indispensable for substantiating policy choices. Whether negative effects of eating fish (because of the presence of mercury and other toxic substances) outweigh the positive effects (less cardiovascular diseases) can only be determined by quantifying these two effects and subtracting them from each other. It is important to take uncertainty into account when doing this. For example, when working with small samples, it might appear that unhealthy behaviour is increasing in young people. In reality, it is quite possible that these are fluctuations, caused by limited sample size. It is not good to use such weak data as a basis for policies. Statistics is important because it allows us to distinguish between reasonable certainties and random findings.
Hendriek Boshuizen studied physical biology at Utrecht University. She then worked at Delft University of Technology and the University of Amsterdam, where she conducted research into the health effects of occupational exposure to whole-body vibrations. In 1990, she was awarded her PhD based on this work.
Hendriek Boshuizen worked from 1991 to 1999 at NIPG-TNO and TNO Prevention and Health, on subjects such as indicators for public health including healthy life expectancy and social economic health inequalities.
Hendriek Boshuizen works at RIVM since 1999. She was one of the creators of the DYNAMO-HIA programme (Dynamic Modelling for Health Impact Assessment), which can be used to calculate effects of policy on diseases, and she also was a project leader for the RIVM chronic diseases model for several years.
Areas of expertise
- Quantitative knowledge integration
- Mathematical models for public health and integrated measures for public health
- Modelling of food intake and effects of measurement errors
- Nutritional epidemiology