Review Article

Netherlands Heart Journal

, Volume 19, Issue 11, pp 470-476

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Clinical and scientific progress related to the interface between cardiology and psychology: lessons learned from 35 years of experience at the Thoraxcenter of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam

  • R. A. M. ErdmanAffiliated withDepartment of Cardiology, Thoraxcenter, Erasmus Medical CenterDepartment of Medical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Erasmus Medical Center Email author 
  • , S. S. PedersenAffiliated withDepartment of Cardiology, Thoraxcenter, Erasmus Medical CenterCoRPS—Center of Research on Psychology in Somatic diseases, Tilburg University


In November 1975, as the first in the Netherlands, a full-time psychologist was employed at the Department of Cardiology of the Thoraxcenter of the Erasmus Medical Center. This innovative decision was consistent with a view to treat the patient as a whole rather than the heart as a single body part in need of repair, combined with the understanding that the heart and mind interact to affect health. The present selective review addresses the broad range of contributions of 35 years of psychology to clinical cardiology and cardiovascular research with a focus on research, teaching, psychological screening and patient care. The review ends with lessons to be learned and challenges for the future with respect to improving the care and management of patients with heart disease in order to enhance secondary prevention and the role of behavioural and psychological factors in this endeavour.


Behavioural factors Cardiac psychology Heart disease Review