prof. dr. Theo van Tilburg

prof. dr.

  • De Boelelaan 1105, Vrije Universiteit, Main Building, 2A68

    1081HV Amsterdam


1984 …2020
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Personal profile

Personal information

Theo van Tilburg (PhD in Social Sciences in 1988) is professor of Sociology and Social Gerontology at the Department of Sociology, academic director of the Graduate School Social Sciences, director of the research program ‘Participation in Society (PARIS): Social Context of Aging’, and board member and senior researcher of the ‘Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam’, an ongoing interdisciplinary study into aspects of aging since 1991.


His research focuses on the social functioning of older adults, in particular the family; the personal network; social support, and informal help and care; and loneliness. These topics are studied from the perspectives of individual change trajectories and societal change across birth cohorts. He also studies interventions to improve one’s social living conditions.

Van Tilburg published more than 250 scientific articles, book chapters, professional publications and publications aimed at the general public. His work is widely cited (H = 36 in ISI and 56 in Google Scholar). He supervised PhD theses (twenty completed and seven in progress). He received a five-year fellowship of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (1989), and various large grants from NWO and ZonMw. In that research he collaborates with researchers from various other faculties of Vrije Universiteit (e.g. epidemiology, psychiatry, health sciences) and with researchers from universities of applied sciences (HvA, HAN).


He taught various courses, both at the bachelor and master level, and post graduate, and both in sociology and in research methods. Currently he teaches Introduction to sociology: Modern Societies, and a course on multivariate methods.

Ancillary activities

Academic service

He was multiple times member of the faculty board and served as vice-dean and in the portfolio research and portfolio education. He was external member of the approval panel of a MSc program in the UK. For research he had a variety of functions, such as: associate editor and board member of various international journals; advisor in various research projects; chair of the VENI Selection Committee MaGW; chair of the Open competition Selection Committee MaGW; chair of the Academy of Finland’s review panel Social Sciences; member of the Appeal Committee NWO/ZonMw.

Other service

He is member of the approval committee Interventions in the domain of Societal Support, Participation and Safety. He is Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America. He advised the national Coalition against loneliness, the municipality of Amsterdam, and the Minister of Health on strategies against loneliness.

Ancillary activities

  • Ministerie van Volksgezondheid, Welzijn en Sport | Den Haag | Adviseur | 2018-09-01 - present
  • Movisie, deelcommissie Maatschappelijke ondersteuning, parti | Utrecht | Adviseur | 2018-11-01 - present

Ancillary activities are updated daily

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Theo van Tilburg is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 4 Similar Profiles
Loneliness Medicine & Life Sciences
Longitudinal Studies Medicine & Life Sciences
Netherlands Medicine & Life Sciences
Social Support Medicine & Life Sciences
Depression Medicine & Life Sciences
Widowhood Medicine & Life Sciences
Retirement Medicine & Life Sciences
Regression Analysis Medicine & Life Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 1984 2020

Ageing in a migration context: Resilience in Turkish and Moroccan immigrants

Klokgieters, S. S., 2020, 184 p.

Research output: PhD ThesisPhD Thesis - Research VU, graduation VUAcademic

Open Access

A unified approach to loneliness

Fried, L., Prohaska, T., Burholt, V., Burns, A., Golden, J., Hawkley, L., Lawlor, B., Leavey, G., Lubben, J., O'Sullivan, R., Perissinotto, C., van Tilburg, T. G., Tully, M. & Victor, C., 2020, In : The Lancet. 395, p. 114

Research output: Contribution to JournalComment / Letter to the editorAcademic

Government Programs

Attrition in an online loneliness intervention for adults aged 50 years and older: Survival analysis

Bouwman, T., Van Tilburg, T. & Aartsen, M., 24 Jul 2019, In : JMIR Aging. 2, 2, 10 p., e13638.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
Survival Analysis

Balance in social support exchange and discontinuation of young-old’s personal relationships in three birth cohorts

Suanet, B. & van Tilburg, T. G., 2019, In : Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. 36, 11-12, p. 3371–3388 18 p.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
Social Support
social support
Aging of materials
Longitudinal Studies

Changes in working life expectancy with disability in the Netherlands, 1992–2016

van der Noordt, M., van der Pas, S., van Tilburg, T. G., van den Hout, A. & Deeg, D. J. H., 2019, In : Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health. 45, 1, p. 73-81

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Open Access
Life Expectancy
Longitudinal Studies

Activities 2012 2018

  • 4 Lecture / Presentation
  • 1 Expert meeting
  • 1 Membership

Kunnen we er over praten; verdiepingsconferentie eenzaamheid

Theo van Tilburg (Speaker)
2 Oct 2018

Activity: Lecture / PresentationProfessional


Waarom helpt een potje bingo niet tegen eenzaamheid?

Theo van Tilburg (Speaker)
11 Sep 2018

Activity: Lecture / PresentationPopular

Inleiding strategiebijeenkomst

T.G. van Tilburg (Speaker)
10 Jan 2014

Activity: Lecture / PresentationProfessional

keynote thema dag 'Eenzaamheid bij ouderen'

T.G. van Tilburg (Speaker)
10 Apr 2014

Activity: Lecture / PresentationProfessional

Expertbijeenkomst Participatie & Sociale uitsluiting - VTV-2014, TNO

T.G. van Tilburg (Participant)
7 Mar 2014

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventExpert meetingSocietal

Press / Media

Oudere minder eenzaam dan twintig jaar geleden

Bianca Suanet & Theo van Tilburg


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Expert Comment

Oudere minder eenzaam dan twintig jaar geleden

Theo van Tilburg


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Expert Comment