Ute Bültmann | UMCG


Portrait photo of Ute Bültmann

Professor Community & Occupational Medicine

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0.4 fte/year for 10 years

Ute Bültmann (German background, 1968, PhD) is an internationally recognized researcher in the field of Work and Health. She is a health scientist, epidemiologist, and full professor of work and health from a life course perspective at the Department of Health Sciences, Community and Occupational Medicine, at the University Medical Center Groningen. Her research focuses on the (psychosocial) epidemiology of work and health, in particular mental health problems, the prevention of work-related illness, sickness absence, and work disability, the identification of labour market trajectories, the measurement of psychosocial factors at work and innovative health-related work outcomes.

Bültmann has developed an extensive knowledge base in the field of “Mental health and Work” that was translated to the occupational health care field. To enhance sustainable return to work and work participation of employees with mental health problems, she directed the development and testing of new measurement tools and interventions, in collaboration with the occupational health care setting. For the new concept of ‘health-related work functioning’, she initiated the cross-cultural translation and adaption of a measurement tool, in collaboration with researchers and practitioners, and facilitated the translation into over 10 languages worldwide.

More recently, she introduced a life course perspective to Work and Health research as a fruitful avenue to understand work not only as an exposure that increases or lessens health risk but also as a life course experience that is dependent on place and time. The application of a life course lens led to new research questions investigating characteristics of labour markets and health trajectories that can lead to positive health outcomes over the life course. In 2017, Bültmann received the prestigious NWO VICI grant “Today’s youth is tomorrow’s workforce: Generation Y at work” to examine the relationship between mental health and work-life trajectories of young adults. She conducts her research in collaboration with partners in occupational and youth health care, enhancing the implementation of her findings.

In terms of research leadership, Bültmann is co-leader of Public Health Research Programme, based at the Department of Health Sciences, and part of the Research Institute SHARE of the Graduate School of Medical Sciences. She was involved in management and teaching activities in the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) strategic training programme on “Work Disability Prevention” at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, Canada. As member of the Programme Executive Committee and mentor (2008-2015), she was one of three Europeans who trained around 120 PhD students and postdocs participating in this global, transdisciplinary programme. In 2016, she brought the 3-year training programme “Work Disability Prevention 2.0 – Research and Practice” to Europe in the Nordic Institute for Advanced Education in Occupational Health (funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers) in Helsinki, Finland.

  • Bültmann has published extensively in flagship journals of the public and occupational health domain, such as the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, American Journal of Public Health, and the European Journal of Public Health.
  • She co-edited with Professor Johannes Siegrist the new Springer Nature “Handbook of Disability, Work and Health” that is among the top used publications on SpringerLink that concern one or more of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Bültmann & Siegrist, 2020)
  • Bültmann has a strong national and international academic network, as shown by collaborations with researchers from the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, the USA and Canada. She is affiliated with the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI-KNAW; since 2016), Visiting Professor at the National Research Centre for the Working Environment in Copenhagen, Denmark (since 2014); Guest Researcher at the Karolinska Institutet, Division of Insurance Medicine, Department of Clinical Neuroscience in Stockholm, Sweden (since 2012), and Adjunct Scientist at the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) in Toronto, Canada (since 2007; on hold since 2017 due to appointment in IWH’s Scientific Advisory Committee).
  • She serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation (Q1), has hosted the 2nd International Scientific Conference on Work Disability Prevention and Integration (ICOH-WDPI) with >200 attendants in 2012, and has organized/chaired >20 symposia on work and health at international conferences.
  • Bültmann has been keynote/invitational speaker at many international scientific meetings and for public and governmental bodies, including: two opening keynote lectures in 2019 on “Work and Health from a lifecourse perspective” (5th ICOH Work Disability Prevention and Integration) and “Occupational factors in Healthy Ageing” (Dutch Epidemiology Conference); the 8th European Congress of Epidemiology (2015), the 11th Stress Research Conference (2013), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Employment Labour and Social Affairs (OECD, Paris, 2014), and the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA, Berlin, 2013).
  • She is Vice-President of the section “Social Security, Work and Health” of the European Public Health Association (since 2016); appointed member of the Scientific Committee of the Work Environment Research Fund of the Danish Ministry of Employment (since 2018), from 2016-2018 she served on the Health Council of the Netherlands, committee “Health and working longer”.
  • Bültmann obtained a Rosalind Franklin Fellowship for talented international researchers at the University of Groningen (2007) for research on mental health and work, and a Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies International Visiting Research Scholar Fellowship (2016) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada to advance research on work and mental health by integrating a life course perspective.
  1. Riethmeister V, Bültmann U, Gordijn M, Brouwer S, de Boer M. Investigating daily fatigue scores during two-week offshore day shifts. Applied Ergonomics 2018;71:87-94.
  2. Pedersen, J., Thorsen, S.V., Andersen, M.F., Hanvold, T.N., Schlünssen, V., Bültmann, U. Impact of depressive symptoms on work life expectancy: a longitudinal study on Danish employees. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2019;76:838-844.
  3. Veldman K, Reijneveld SA, Verhulst FC, Ortiz JA, Bültmann U. A life course perspective on mental health problems, employment and work outcomes. Scandinavian Journal of Work Environment and Health 2017;43: 316-325.
  4. Nigatu YT, Reijneveld SA, Penninx BW, Schoevers RA, Bültmann, U. The longitudinal joint effect of obesity and major depression on work performance impairment. American Journal of Public Health 2015;105:e80-86.
  5. Arends I, van der Klink JJ, van Rhenen W, de Boer MR, Bültmann U. Prevention of recurrent sickness absence in workers with common mental disorders: Results of a cluster-randomised controlled trial. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2014;71:21-29.