Stefaan Van Damme

Stefaan Van Damme is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Experimental-Clinical and Health Psychology at Ghent University, Belgium, where he got his PhD in 2004.

His main area of research is the psychology of physical health, with a particular focus on pain. Within this domain, he has developed two research programs.

A first program is on the role of cognitive-affective and motivational mechanisms in the perception of pain and bodily sensations. For example, Stefaan supervises several research projects focusing on the fascinating interplay between attention (hypervigilance) and somatosensory processing.

The second program is on the self-regulation of bodily symptoms and (chronic) illness. For example, current research projects focus on how patients with a chronic disease cope with challenges to personal goals and how this may affect quality of life and functioning.

Stefaan has extensive expertise in the development of experimental research paradigms to measure cognitive processes and somatosensory attention, and in somatosensory stimulation equipment for both experimental and clinical research purposes. He has been involved in a number of (inter)national collaborations with, amongst others, Charles Spence (Oxford, UK), Johan Vlaeyen (Leuven, Belgium), Alberto Gallace (Milan, Italy), Madelon Peters (Maastricht, Netherlands), and Jörg Trojan (Mannheim, Germany). He is a member of the board of the Association for Researchers in Psychology & Health (ARPH), and of the Vlaamse Pijn Liga.

He has received several awards for his work, such as the EFIC-Grünenthal-Grant (2004), the Belgian Pain Institute Prize (2007), and the Early Career Research Grant by the International Association for the Study of Pain (2008).

Research Interests

  • Cognitive-affective and motivational mechanisms in pain and physical illness
  • Attention, hypervigilance, and somatosensory perception
  • Self-regulation of bodily symptoms and (chronic) illness
  • Coping and health-related quality of life