dr. S.L. (Sanne) Nijhof

dr. S.L. (Sanne) Nijhof

Associate Professor - medical
dr. S.L. (Sanne) Nijhof
  • Integral pediatrics patient care

Research Programs

Child Health



Sanne was trained as a medical doctor (2006) and pediatrician (2015) 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. As of then she also works a a general pediatrician with a focus on social pediatrics and rheumatology/immunology.

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.

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 (38)

Recruiting Adolescents With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis to Internet-Delivered Therapy:Internal Pilot Within a Randomized Controlled Trial

Anderson Emma, Parslow Roxanne, Hollingworth William, Mills Nicola, Beasant Lucy, Gaunt Daisy, Metcalfe Chris, Kessler David, Macleod John, Pywell Susan, Pitts Kieren, Price Simon, Stallard Paul, Knoop Hans, Van de Putte Elise, Nijhof Sanne, Bleijenberg Gijs, Crawley Esther 12 aug 2020, In: Journal of Medical Internet Research. 22

Daily life participation in childhood chronic disease:a qualitative study

Nap-van der Vlist Merel M, Kars Marijke C, Berkelbach van der Sprenkel Emma E, Nijhof Linde N, Grootenhuis Martha A, van Geelen Stefan M, van der Ent Cornelis K, Swart Joost F, van Royen-Kerkhof Annet, van Grotel Martine, van de Putte Elise M, Nijhof Sanne L 1 mei 2020, In: Archives of Disease in Childhood. 105 , p. 463-469 7 p.

Coping with paediatric illness:Child's play? Exploring the effectiveness of a play- and sports-based cognitive behavioural programme for children with chronic health conditions

de Jong Nynke Boukje, Elzinga-Plomp Alda, Hulzebos Erik Hj, Poppe Ronald, Nijhof Sanne L, van Geelen Stefan 1 jan 2020, In: Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 25 , p. 565-578 14 p.

Investigating the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of FITNET-NHS (Fatigue in Teenagers on the interNET in the NHS) compared to activity management to treat paediatric chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)/myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME):Amendment to the published protocol

Anderson Emma, Gaunt Daisy, Metcalfe Chris, Rai Manmita, Hollingworth William, Mills Nicola, Beasant Lucy, Parslow Roxanne, Kessler David, Macleod John, Stallard Paul, Knoop Hans, Van De Putte Elise, Nijhof Sanne, Bleijenberg Gijs, Crawley Esther 19 dec 2019, In: Trials. 20

Fatigue in Children Post-Cancer Treatment and Other Long-Term Diseases

Nap-Van der Vlist M., Dalmeijer G., Grootenhuis M., van der Ent C., van den Heuvel-Eibrink M., Wulffraat N., Swart J., van Litsenburg R., van de Putte E., Nijhof S. dec 2019, In: Pediatric Blood & Cancer. 66 , p. S150-S151

Review about the impact of growing up with a chronic disease showed delays achieving psychosocial milestones

Maurice-Stam Heleen, Nijhof Sanne L., Monninkhof Anneke S., Heymans Hugo S.A., Grootenhuis Martha A. 27 jun 2019, In: Acta Paediatrica. 108 , p. 2157-2169 13 p.

Fatigue in childhood chronic disease

Nap-Van Der Vlist Merel M., Dalmeijer Geertje W., Grootenhuis Martha A., Van Der Ent Cornelis K., Van Den Heuvel-Eibrink Marry M., Wulffraat Nico M., Swart Joost F., Van Litsenburg Raphaële R.L., Van De Putte Elise M., Nijhof Sanne L. 7 jun 2019, In: Archives of Disease in Childhood. 104 , p. 1090-1095 6 p.

Healthy play, better coping:The importance of play for the development of children in health and disease

Nijhof Sanne L., Vinkers Christiaan H., van Geelen Stefan M., Duijff Sasja N., Achterberg E. J.Marijke, van der Net Janjaap, Veltkamp Remco C., Grootenhuis Martha A., van de Putte Elise M., Hillegers Manon H.J., van der Brug Anneke W., Wierenga Corette J., Benders Manon J.N.L., Engels Rutger C.M.E., van der Ent C. Kors, Vanderschuren Louk J.M.J., Lesscher Heidi M.B. 1 dec 2018, In: Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 95 , p. 421-429 9 p.

Non-pharmacological options for managing chronic musculoskeletal pain in children with pediatric rheumatic disease:a systematic review

Nijhof Linde N., Nap-van der Vlist Merel M., van de Putte Elise M., van Royen-Kerkhof Annet, Nijhof Sanne L. 1 nov 2018, In: Rheumatology International. 38 , p. 2015-2025 11 p.

No evidence found for an increased risk of long-term fatigue following human papillomavirus vaccination of adolescent girls

Schurink-Van't Klooster T. M., Kemmeren J. M., van der Maas N. A.T., van de Putte E. M., Ter Wolbeek M., Nijhof S. L., Vanrolleghem A. M., van Vliet J. A., Sturkenboom M., de Melker H. E. 19 sep 2018, In: Vaccine. 36 , p. 6796-6802 7 p.

All research output

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