Short history of Nivel Research Institute

Nivel Institute conducts research in the broad field of health and healthcare, deploying an enormous research infrastructure and a great diversity of research expertise. How did this development took place?

From 1965 until 2005, the research institute housed at several locations throughout the city centre of Utrecht. You could say we performed a 'dance around the Dom', the iconic tower in the historical city center, before we ended up, in 2005, in a the newly built office building at the Otterstaat, our current location in Utrecht.

LinksNivel's timeline

We started off in 1965, with about 50 employees, as the scientific institute of the Dutch College of General Practitioners. Through the years Nivel's domain expanded gradually to primary care, secondary care and hospital care. Nowadays, there are about 170 employees working at Nivel. Together we make an continuous effort to conduct all our scientific research, which covers the entire 'somatic' healthcare. How did this development took place?

1965 - Start of the scientific branch of the Dutch College of General Practitioners

The organisation started off with a team of 40 to 50 people forming the scientific branch of the Dutch College of General Practitioners (Nederlands Huisartsengenootschap; NHG).

1970 - First Monitoring Stations of the Dutch College of General Practitioners

The College (NHG) was the first in the Netherlands to start collecting and comparing patient data in 1970. Fifty GP practices were affiliated with this. These so-called Monitoring Stations (Peilstations) took note of conspicuous illnesses and especially flu signals. The College collected and processed the data. Many of the fifty practices that participated in that first phase are still a Monitoring Station today. Next to the 50 Monitoring Stations about 500 other GP practices took part in the polls. Those first polls grew into the care registries as we know them today, in which some 500 practices still participate.

1971 - Establishment of the Netherlands General Practitioners Institute (NHI) from the NHG

In 1971, the Netherlands General Practitioners Institute (Nederlands Huisartsen Instituut; NHI) was born from the need for more independent research. The NHI focused on research, training, development and support of the general practice.

1985 - Establishment of NIVEL, Netherlands Institute for Research in Primary Healthcare

In 1985 the NHI was split into two separate institutes, one for research and one for other activities. The research branch continued independently under the name 'Netherlands Institute for Primary Healthcare Research' (Nederlands Instituut Voor EersteLijnszorg; NIVEL). At this time we wrote the name NIVEL in capital letters. Since the establishment of NIVEL, the research focused no longer only on general practitioner care, but on the entire primary care and developments related to it.

1988 - Establishment of Dutch Healthcare Consumer Panel

NIVEL was not only concerned with collecting healthcare data via healthcare professionals. It was also the first research institute to collect the experiences and opinions of patients and consumers. In 1988 Nivel started doing research with the Dutch Healthcare Consumer Panel, which was run together with the Dutch Consumers' Association (ANWB). Soon other panels followed. Nowadays Nivel features four 'patient panels'.

  • Nivel Dutch Healthcaare Consumer Panel
  • Nivel National Panel of the Chronically ill and Disabled
  • Nivel Panel of People with Lung Disease
  • Nivel Panel of People with Intellectual Disabilities

1995 - Expansion of research into the entire field of healthcare, also internationally

In 1995 we broadened our field of research again, now from primary care to the entire healthcare system. The developments at NIVEL followed the social developments. There was an increasing need for reliable and independent information about the effects of policy implemented and the opinions on and experiences with healthcare of the consumers. At that time the first international comparisons of healthcare systems started, first between the Netherlands and Belgium, followed by comparisons with France and Germany and later on to comparitive research throughout the EU.

2018 - Adjustment of the institute's spelling to 'Nivel'

Since 2018 we have been writing 'Nivel'; with one uppercase letter followed by lowercase letters. This change in the institute's spelling was part of the implementation of a new house style, one that was more in line with the renewed mission and growing self-awareness of the institute.

Nivel now – a national research institute with a giant research infrastructure combined with a vast research expertise

At Nivel we now feature a total of nine panels and (national) registrations. By using this research infrastructure, we have access to a large amount of data, often collected over many years. In using these valid data we make an important contribution to scientific research in health and healthcare. In addition, we conduct tailor-made research, using our research expertise, in many areas in healthcare. You will find more about this at our running research programs.

Meer wetenWant to know more? Contact us

For more information about Nivel, please feel free to contact us:

  • Our executive director Cordula Wagner will tell you more about Nivel as national scientific research institute.
  • Our head of research unit Primary Care and of Support International Research Jeroen Hasselaar will tell you more about out ongoing international projects and about cooperating with Nivel as partner in health services research.


Zenderen, I. van (Nivel Research Communication Center). Short history of Nivel Research Institute. From: [Last update 05-February-2024; consulted on 24-May-2024]. URL: