Is health-related behavior an individual choice, an outcome of socially constructed practices, or something in-between? How can we bridge perspectives in sociology, (health) psychology, behavioral economics and public health to better understand health behavior practices? And how do we use these transdisciplinary insights to inform sustainable behavioral interventions? If you get excited about these questions, we are looking for you: an ambitious PhD candidate to join our multidisciplinary project team.
Combining strengths across disciplines will allow us to better understand health-related behavior. For example, psychological theories of behavior, such as dual process theories, are often focused on individual-level characteristics. These theories are well suited to inform individually-tailored interventions, but often neglect the wider context in which behavior takes place, and lack sustained effects. This makes it unclear if and how such interventions can be scaled up to have a long-term impact at the population level. On the other hand, sociological theories, such as social practice theories, de-center the individual and look at behaviors from the perspective of the social practices being performed, the meanings they hold, and the contexts that shape them. From this viewpoint, a sustainable health behavior intervention would optimize the healthiness of various (combinations of) practices that people engage in, and thereby influence individual behavior in the long-term. However, the suitability of social practice theories to be used as the basis of health-related interventions is yet to be demonstrated. Our ambition is to integrate these different perspectives to develop more effective, sustainable and equitable health-related interventions.
This project aims to gain theory- and evidence-based insight into the design of impactful and sustainable behavioral interventions by taking an interdisciplinary perspective. Specifically, we will (1) integrate health psychology and behavioral economics frameworks of behavior with sociological theories, 2) empirically test how relevant needs and contexts affect (an individual's likelihood to engage in) specific health-related practices, and 3) use evidence-based insights to (re-)design interventions that increase the healthiness of (an individual's) behavioral practices.
The project will be conducted at the Department of Public Health
, Erasmus MC under the supervision of dr. Joost Oude Groeniger, Lili Kókai, MSc., and prof. dr. Frank van Lenthe, in close collaboration with colleagues from EUR and various stakeholders (e.g., clinical departments, policymakers, municipal health services).Erasmus initiative 'Smarter Choices for Better Health'
The project is embedded within the interdisciplinary Erasmus initiative 'Smarter Choices for Better Health'
. You will join the action line Prevention: an active collaboration between the Department of Public Health (Erasmus MC), Erasmus School of Economics (EUR) and Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (EUR). The project team is diverse and includes experts with backgrounds in public health, sociology, health psychology and behavioral economics. The project takes a holistic approach, and utilizes a wide range of methodologies:
- Sociological, psychological, economic, and public health theories to assess needs and contexts
- Quantitative and qualitative studies to understand how people with different needs and contexts formulate possibly competing intentions
- Surveys and observational field studies to identify the barriers between intentions and desired behavior • Laboratory and field experiments to test the effectiveness of interventions