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Josefien van Olmen

Research expertise

How to improve health and access to health care for poor people, is a research domain that spans both public and clinical health. My research interests include the evaluation of the capacity and organization of health systems and health services to deal with quality of care and self-management of people, especially those with chronic diseases, and to develop and evaluate  strategies to address these issues. I am also interested in health system analysis, implementation of health policy at global and national levels and governance of mixed local health systems and innovative approaches to health care delivery.

I am skilled in qualitative and quantitative research methods. I work in East and Central Africa, in Asia and in West and Eastern Europe, in clinical and in public health.


MPH, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp


Research outputs

Testing a self-determination theory model of healthy eating in a South African township

De Man, J., Wouters, E., Delobelle, P., Puoane, T., Daivadanam, M., Absetz, P., Remmen, R. & van Olmen, J., 2020, In : Frontiers in Psychology. 11, 9 p., 2181.

Diabetes self-management in three different income settings: cross-learning of barriers and opportunities

De Man, J., Aweko, J., Daivadanam, M., Alvesson, H. M., Delobelle, P., Mayega, R. W., Östenson, C-G., Kirunda, B., Kasujja, F. X., Guwattude, D., Puoane, T., Sanders, D., Peterson, S., Tomson, G., Sundberg, C. J., Absetz, P. & Van Olmen, J., 2019, In : PLoS ONE. 14, 3, 22 p., 0213530.

Dietary patterns and practices in rural eastern Uganda: implications for prevention and management of type 2 diabetes

Kiguli, J., Alvesson, H. M., Mayega, R. W., Kasujja, F. X., Muyingo, A., Kirunda, B., Ekirapa, E., Nalwadda, C., Naggayi, G., Peterson, S., van Olmen, J. & Daivadanam, M., 2019, In : Appetite. 143, p. 104409

Process evaluation in the field: global learnings from seven implementation research hypertension projects in low-and middle-income countries

Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases, Process Evaluation Working Group, 2019, In : BMC Public Health. 19, 1, p. 953

The need for a dynamic approach to health system-centered innovations comment on "What health system challenges should responsible innovation in health address? Insights from an international scoping review"

van Olmen, J., Marchal, B., Ricarte, B., Van Damme, W. & Van Belle, S., 2019, In : International Journal of Health Policy and Management. 8, 7, p. 444-446 3 p.

The role of context in implementation research for non-communicable diseases: Answering the 'how-to' dilemma

GACD Concepts and Contexts working group, 2019, In : PLoS ONE. 14, 4, p. e0214454 22 p., 0214454.

Study protocol for the SMART2D adaptive implementation trial: a cluster randomised trial comparing facility-only care with integrated facility and community care to improve type-2 diabetes outcomes in Uganda, South Africa and Sweden

SMART2D Consortium, 2018, In : BMJ Open. 8, 3, 11 p., 019881.

Using a cross-contextual reciprocal learning approach in a multisite implementation research project to improve self-management for type 2 diabetes

van Olmen, J., Delobelle, P., Guwatudde, D., Absetz, P., Sanders, D., Mölsted Alvesson, H., Puoane, T., Ostenson, C-G., Tomson, G., Mayega, R. W., Sundberg, C. J., Peterson, S. & Daivadanam, M., 2018, In : BMJ Global Health . 3, 6, 9 p., e001068.

'What kind of life is this?' Diabetes related notions of wellbeing among adults in eastern Uganda and implications for mitigating future chronic disease risk

Mayega, R. W., Ekirapa, E., Kirunda, B., Nalwadda, C., Aweko, J., Tomson, G., Ostenson, C. G., Van Olmen, J., Daivadanam, M. & Kiguli, J., 2018, In : BMC Public Health. 18, 13 p., 1409.

Diabetes bij Sub-Sahara-Afrikanen

Van Offel, J. F. S. C., Van Olmen, J., De Block, C. & Rottiers, R., 2017, In : Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde. 73, 7, p. 423-428

Process evaluation of a mobile health intervention for people with diabetes in low income countries - the implementation of the TEXT4DSM study

Van Olmen, J., Van Pelt, M., Ku, G. M., Kanda, D., Heang, H., Darras, C., Kegels, G. & Schellevis, F., 2017, In : Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare. 23, 1, p. 96-105 10 p.

The effect of text message support on diabetes self-management in developing countries - A randomised trial

Van Olmen, J., Kegels, G., Korachais, C., de Man, J., Van Acker, K., Kalobu, J. C., van Pelt, M., Ku, G. M., Hen, H., Kanda, D., Malombo, B., Darras, C. & Schellevis, F., 2017, In : Journal of Clinical and Translational Endocrinology. 7, 7, p. 33-41 9 p.

Patient-centered care and people-centered health systems in Sub-Saharan Africa: why so little of something so badly needed?

De Man, J., Mayega, R., Sarkar, N., Waweru, E., Leys, M., Van Olmen, J. & Criel, B., 2016, In : International Journal of Person Centered Medicine. 6, 3, p. 162-173

Patient-centred innovation to ensure access to diabetes care in Cambodia: the case of MoPoTsyo

Van Olmen, J., Eggermont, N., Van Pelt, M., Hen, H., De Man, J., Schellevis, F., Peters, D. H. & Bigdeli, M., 2016, In : Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice. 9, p. 1 11 p.

Content, participants and outcomes of three diabetes care programmes in three low and middle income countries

Van Olmen, J., Ku, G. M., Darras, C., Kalobu, J. C., Bewa, E., Van Pelt, M., Hen, H., Van Acker, K., Eggermont, N., Schellevis, F. & Kegels, G., 2015, In : Primary Care Diabetes. 9, 3, p. 196-202 7 p.

Health systems in context: a systematic review of the integration of the social determinants of health within health systems frameworks

Russell, E., Johnson, B., Larsen, H., Novilla, M. L. B., van Olmen, J. & Swanson, R. C., 2013, In : Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública. 34, 6, p. 461-467 7 p.

The effectiveness of text messages support for diabetes self-management: protocol of the TEXT4DSM study in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cambodia and the Philippines

van Olmen, J., Ku, G. M., Van Pelt, M., Kalobu, J. C., Hen, H., Darras, C., Van Acker, K., Villaraza, B., Schellevis, F. & Kegels, G., 2013, In : BMC Public Health. 13, p. 423 9 p.

Analysing health system dynamics; a framework

van Olmen, J., Criel, B., Van Damme, W., Marchal, B., Van Belle, S., Van Dormael, M., Hoerée, T., Pirard, M. & Kegels, G., 2012, Antwerp: ITGPress. 117 p. (Studies in Health Services Organisation & Policy; 28)

Health systems frameworks in their political context: framing divergent agendas

van Olmen, J., Marchal, B., Van Damme, W., Kegels, G. & Hill, P. S., 2012, In : BMC Public Health. 12, p. 774 13 p.

Is realist evaluation keeping its promise? A review of published empirical studies in the field of health systems research

Marchal, B., Van Belle, S., van Olmen, J., Hoerée, T. & Kegels, G., 2012, In : Evaluation. 18, 2, p. 192-212 21 p.

L'approche realist à l'épreuve du réel de l'évaluation des programmes

Ridde, V., Robert, E., Guichard, A., Blaise, P. & van Olmen, J., 2012, In : Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation. 26, 3, p. 37-59 23 p.

Management of chronic diseases in sub-Saharan Africa: cross-fertilisation between HIV/AIDS and diabetes care

van Olmen, J., Schellevis, F., Van Damme, W., Kegels, G. & Rasschaert, F., 2012, In : Journal of Tropical Medicine. 349312, p. 1-10 10 p.

The health system dynamics framework: the introduction of an analytical model for health system analysis and its application to two case-studies

van Olmen, J., Criel, B., Bhojani, U., Marchal, B., Van Belle, S., Chenge, M., Hoerée, T., Pirard, M., Van Damme, W. & Kegels, G., 2012, In : Health, Culture and Society. 2, 1, p. 2-21 20 p.

How can disease control programs contribute to health systems strengthening in sub-Saharan Africa? Which health systems for disease control?

Van Damme, W., Pirard, M., Assefa, Y. & van Olmen, J., 2011, Antwerpen: ITGPress. 46 p. (Studies in Health Services Organisation & Policy Working Paper Series ; 1)

Partnerships in health markets need regulation

van Olmen, J., Abimbola, S. & Ku, GM., 2011, In : Health Affairs. 30, 6, p. 1213

Priority actions for the non-communicable disease crisis [letter]

van Olmen, J., Ku, GM. & Slama, S., 2011, In : Lancet. 378, 9791, p. 566 1 p.

Sub-Saharan Africa and the health MDGs: the need to move beyond the 'quick impact' model

Richard, F., Hercot, D., Ouédraogo, C., Delvaux, T., Samake, S., van Olmen, J., Conombo, G., Hammonds, R. & Vandemoortele, J., 2011, In : Reproductive Health Matters. 19, 38, p. 42-55 14 p.

The growing caseload of chronic life-long conditions calls for a move towards full self-management in low-income countries

van Olmen, J., Ku, GM., Bermejo, R., Kegels, G., Hermann, K. & Van Damme, W., 2011, In : Globalization and Health. 7, 38, p. 1-10 10 p.

Analysing health systems to make them stronger

van Olmen, J., Criel, B., Van Damme, W., Marchal, B., Van Belle, S., Van Dormael, M., Hoerée, T., Pirard, M. & Kegels, G., 2010, Antwerpen: ITGPress. 98 p. (Studies in Health Services Organisation & Policy; 27)

Primary Health Care in the 21st century: primary care providers and people's empowerment [editorial]

van Olmen, J., Criel, B., Devadasan, N., Pariyo, G., De Vos, P., Van Damme, W., Van Dormael, M., Marchal, B. & Kegels, G., 2010, In : Tropical Medicine and International Health. 15, 4, p. 386-390 5 p.


SMART2D: A people-centred approach through Self-Management and Reciprocal learning for the prevention and management of Type-2-Diabetes

Marchal, B., Van Damme, W., van Olmen, J., De Man, J. & Everaert, R.

European Commission


Care for chronic diseases in low income countries. The health system perspective and self-management of diabetes

van Olmen, J., Kegels, G. & Schellevis, F.


Scale-Up an integrated care package for diaBetes and hYpertension for vulnerable people in Cambodia, Slovenia and Belgium

Danhieux, K., Van Damme, W., van Olmen, J., van Olmen, J., Remmen, R. & Wouters, E.

3/07/19 → …

SCUBY: Scaling-up of evidence-based health interventions at population level for the prevention and management of hypertension and/or diabetes

van Olmen, J., Van Damme, W. & Van Aerde, K.

European Commission



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