'The meaning of symptoms'

On September 22-23, 2017, the 2nd multidisciplinary symposium on Symptom Research in Primary Care took take place at "Kontakt der Kontinenten" in Soesterberg (near Amsterdam) in the Netherlands.

We look back at a very succesful and inspirational symposium. If you are interested, you are welcome to take a look at our retrospect page.

We will keep this website online a little longer for future purposes. Hopefully we'll meet again in one or two years in....?

Original invitation:

Symptoms cut through, determine and guide interaction, communication and medical decisions in primary care. Most patients seek health care because they experience (bothersome) symptoms, doctors and patients negotiate symptoms, symptoms may lead to a specific diagnosis and knowledge of symptoms and their prognosis and impact is crucial for treatment plans. This is part of a well-known although scattered research area that we wish to build on during the symposium. We invite you to reflect on contemporary challenges in this field, addressing questions like:

  • How do changing health systems and routines affect symptom interpretations?
  • What is the impact of bodily monitoring and symptom awareness? 
  • Are symptom presentations cultural expressions of changed sensibilities? 
  • How do doctors and patients together make sense of symptoms?
  • How do uncertain symptoms configure certain diagnoses? 
  • How does 'treating' patients with symptoms differ from 'treating' patients with diseases? 

We look forward to discussing these issues with researchers from various academic disciplines, such as primary care, general medicine, psychiatry, psychology, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, and linguistics. We hope to present state-of-the-art research: questioning symptoms, defining symptoms,  understanding symptoms, symptoms and healthcare seeking, making sense of symptoms, managing symptoms....

You are welcome to join us! Please be aware however, that to ensure fruitful group discussions, the number of participants is limited to about 60. For more information, questions or remarks, please contact our secretariat at

On behalf of the organizing committee:

- Prof. Henriette van der Horst, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam
- Dr. Peter Lucassen, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen
- Dr. Tim olde Hartman, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen
- Dr. Marianne Rosendal, University of Southern Denmark, Odense
- Dr. Rikke Sand Andersen, Aarhus University, Aarhus
- Dr. Mette Bech Risør, UiT The Arctic University of Tromsø, Tromsø

In 2015 a first symposium on Symptom Research was organized in Vejle, Denmark (link), by the Danish Symptom Research Network (Aarhus University, Copenhagen University and University of Southern Denmark) and colleagues from the Arctic University of Norway. It turned out to be very fruitful symposium, where many international contacts were made and/or refreshed. The idea to organize a follow-up symposium arose direct after, and we are happy that, together with the expertise of our Danish/Norwegian colleagues, we are now organizing Sympca 2017!