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  2. Universiteit Utrecht (UU)
  3. Two PhD candidates for the Vidi project “Socioeconomic inequalities in health and health-behaviours – a systems approach” (0.8 – 1.0 FTE)

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Two PhD candidates for the Vidi project “Socioeconomic inequalities in health and health-behaviours – a systems approach” (0.8 – 1.0 FTE)

Utrecht University's Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences is looking for a PhD candidate to research socioeconomic inequalities in health and health behaviours. Are you interested? Then please read the full profile and apply.

10 maanden geleden


Domplein, Utrecht, Utrecht
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
30 - 32 uur
€ 2325 - € 2972 per maand


The Department of Interdisciplinary Social Science of Utrecht University offers two positions for PhD candidates (0.8 FTE, five years) as part of the research project “Socioeconomic inequalities in health & health behaviours – a systems approach”. The project is supported by an NWO Vidi Grant and will be conducted by Carlijn Kamphuis, two PhD students and a postdoc (who will be hired when the project is a few years on its way).

Socioeconomic inequalities in health represent a major scientific and societal challenge. In the Netherlands, low socioeconomic groups die on average five years earlier, and live fourteen more years with diseases and disabilities, than high socioeconomic groups. Also, unhealthy behaviours (like smoking and physical inactivity) are more prevalent among low socioeconomic groups. The overall aim of the project is to understand how multiple, time-varying, interlinked environmental conditions, in interaction with individual factors, contribute to socioeconomic inequalities in health and health -behaviours, by applying an interdisciplinary systems approach.

PhD project 1: Conceptualisations of socioeconomic position and health, and the importance of health compared to other life priorities

Most studies in the field of socioeconomic inequalities in health have used indicators like education and income to measure ‘socioeconomic position’ (SEP). Are these indicators sufficient to capture SEP in contemporary Dutch society, or do we actually miss out on important heterogeneity within low and within high SEP groups? This project uses a Delphi-study to investigate this question. Further, qualitative interviews, analysis of panel data, and a discrete choice experiment are applied to investigate how perceptions of what ‘good’ health is differ between socioeconomic groups, to explore whether socioeconomic groups differ in life priorities, and how possible differences can be explained.

PhD project 2: Explaining socioeconomic inequalities in health by longitudinal analysis of time-varying environmental conditions, and agent-based modelling

Studies seeking explanations for the relation between SEP and health, and between SEP and health behaviours have shown that material conditions (e.g. financial problems, poor housing conditions) and psychosocial conditions (negative life events, stress) are important. The importance of the cultural environment (cultural capital) has largely been neglected, and will be explored in this project. Further, due to a lack of data, most studies took a linear instead of dynamic approach to explain health inequalities, i.e. neglecting interlinkages between multiple environmental conditions, changes in these conditions over time, and interactions with individual factors. In our project, we analyse data from an existing cohort (which has been followed up regularly since 1991), and which will be enriched with a new follow-up.

New insight as acquired in both PhD projects are used to build an agent-based model, used to calculate the potential impact of specific policies on socioeconomic health inequalities in The Netherlands. This will be done by a second PhD student and the postdoc who will be hired later on in the project.


For the first PhD position, we are looking for a candidate with a Master’s degree in health sciences, psychology, sociology, or other relevant discipline; who preferably has experience with qualitative research (semi-structured interviews) as well as quantitative methods (psychological experiment, discrete choice experiment, statistical data analysis). An excellent command of the Dutch language is required in order to conduct the qualitative interviews.

For the second PhD position, we are looking for a candidate with a Master’s degree in sociology, health science, health economics, econometry, or other relevant discipline; who has strong analytic/computational skills (preferably experience with longitudinal data analysis), and preferably experience in agent-based modelling or a willingness to acquire agent-based modelling skills.

For both positions, candidates should:
  • Have good written and oral communication skills in English;
  • Be reliable, punctual and be able to work and deliver timely, both independently and in a team;
  • Be willing to conduct empirical research
  • Be able to engage with members of academic, as well as other stakeholders (e.g. policy makers, professionals working with low socioeconomic groups).

The candidates will carry out doctoral research of which the results will be disseminated via international peer-reviewed journals, national journals, and presentations at meetings and conferences. The international publications will form the basis for a PhD thesis.

When applying please indicate in which position(s) you are interested; if you have the required background, you can apply for both positions. The candidates will also be involved in the teaching activities of the department. 

Tasks of the PhD candidates consist of (but are not limited to):

  • Searching and reading relevant literature;
  • Practical organisation of several sub-studies, which for instance involves the recruitment of participants, and distribution of surveys;
  • Publishing results in international and national journals;
  • Organising meetings;
  • Presenting study findings at international conferences and national meetings.


We offer a position for 5 years (0.8 FTE). For the first PhD project, a position of 4 years (1.0 FTE) is a possible option.The gross salary - depending on previous qualifications and experience - starts at €2,325 and increases to €2,972 (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month in the fifth year of the appointment for a full-time employment.

Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year. In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). Here you'll find more information about working at Utrecht University.

Additional information

Additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from Dr Carlijn Kamphuis (c.b.m.kamphuis@uu.nl)