What knowledge have studies on the COVID-19 measures yielded?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dutch government took several measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable populations and sectors. To gain insights from the pandemic, ZonMw and the NWO have funded a large number of COVID-19-related research projects since 2020. Ecorys recently conducted an inventory of the knowledge generated from these projects.


Within our mapping study, the focus was specifically on the found effects of various measures on target groups in the healthcare sector. The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent measures taken had a major impact on the Dutch healthcare sector. In the healthcare sector, the pandemic led to, among other things, excess mortality, an increase in delayed and reduced care, and challenges to the mental health and vitality of healthcare personnel. At the same time, there was a rapid shift to digital health applications within the healthcare sector, with the aim of reducing the negative effects of COVID-19 measures. The way care was delivered and organised was adapted to the new situation during the COVID-19 pandemic. This resulted in greater use of remote care and the development of several e-learning modules.

In our inventory study, we systematically inventoried the studies funded by ZonMw and the NWO using a comprehensive codebook. We then used international literature in two ways: first, to compare the findings of the studies from the inventory with other studies, and second, to fill in gaps in the collected knowledge.

Key findings

Based on our mapping study and comparison with international literature, five knowledge gaps were found. That is, specific knowledge on COVID-19 measures in these areas is still lacking, both in ZonMw and NWO-funded research and in the international literature.

1) It is insufficiently known what effect COVID-19 measures have had on dissemination within healthcare facilities. Further research is needed to get a better picture of the effects of the various COVID-19 measures in healthcare facilities.

2) There is still a lack of knowledge on what effect COVID-19 measures have had on cost-effectiveness in healthcare settings. The evidence from the literature is diverse, focusing mainly on non-European countries and on sectors other than health care. It is possible that cost-effectiveness also varies by healthcare sector.

3) It is not clear what effect COVID-19 measures have had on the quality of care. More research is needed on the effects of the measures on quality of care and to what extent mitigation measures have been effective for various patient groups in the Netherlands.

4) The effects of the COVID-19 measures on specific target groups has not been sufficiently researched. For example, on e-health. More research on gender and intersectionality could provide valuable insights here.

5) Finally, there is a lack of knowledge on the (missed) role of prevention. More knowledge on the role and effects of prevention could be valuable to be better prepared for a pandemic. Moreover, this knowledge can contribute to sustainable and cost-effective care.

Our findings enable ZonMw and NWO to (commission) targeted research into the topics that are currently insufficiently known about (knowledge gaps).

Client review:

We enjoyed working with Ecorys and are enthusiastic about the result delivered. Ecorys was able to describe the many effects of a large number of different measures on many different target groups in a clear manner, draw conclusions from this and point out where knowledge gaps lie for future research. In turn, we can use the knowledge gaps that emerged to conduct follow-up research.

18 March 2024

3 minute read

Key Experts

Michelle Willems


Nicky Vulhop


Rana Orhan Pees

Senior Consultant