The need for research into effective prevention and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle, smart technology that matches the home situation of citizens and the prevention of the risk of chronic diseases is increasing. These developments come together in the Healthy Society program.
The aim of the Healthy Society program is the development, evaluation, and implementation of citizen-based, personalized, and preventative digital health solutions to optimize health and well-being and reduce disparities in health status. For this goal, we will, for the first time, focus on both behavioural changes of individual patients, as well as on behavioural changes in their context: family - and other close household members. Additionally, we will incorporate the role of the wider environmental context. We will address these issues in two related projects using small- and large-data approaches with the objectives of (1) achieving sustainable changes in the health behaviours of cardiovascular patients and their family members, and (2) identifying how environmental factors may facilitate the effectiveness and uptake of lifestyle interventions among cardiovascular patients and their families. The PhD position for the first project has already been filled. This PhD trajectory is aimed at the second project.
Project 2 aims to identify how targeted urban environment features facilitate cardiovascular patients' healthy lifestyle intervention uptake and explore what motivates patients to engage in healthier behaviours (e.g., physical activity through walking). Ultimately, we aim to suggest specific target values for each environmental feature as benchmarks for evidence-informed health-promoting policies and associated interventions. We will address the following key research questions:
- What urban environment features influence lifestyle intervention uptake among cardiovascular patients?
- Are differences in the urban environment features (as emerging from RQ1) associated with healthy lifestyles among cardiovascular patients?
- What urban environment features associated with healthy lifestyles can be incorporated to improve lifestyle intervention effectiveness?
As a PhD student, you will perform mixed-methods research and use qualitative and quantitative (GIS) data to answer the research questions, where each research question will be answered by a study. You will start by using qualitative methods to assess how environmental factors influence cardiovascular patients' healthy lifestyles (Study 1). Then, using existing quantitative data, you will assess the extent to which environmental factor differences are associated with healthy lifestyles, among the general population and cardiovascular patients while accounting for individual resource diversity (Study 2). Next, open access registry data describing variations in neighbourhood spatial configurations, amenities and services distributions, social inequality, (perceived) safety, nuisance, and neighbourhood socioeconomic status will be extracted and linked to patient data to assess the influence of context on the healthy behaviours of cardiovascular patients in different neighbourhoods. Existing data on cardiovascular patient cohorts' health behaviours (i.g., physical activity) will be analysed in combination with large-scale publicly available environmental data (e.g., from CBS, OpenStreetMap, and street-level Google view imagery) to determine how neighbourhood-level factors such as green spaces and perceived safety associate with healthy lifestyle behaviours of cardiovascular patients. Finally, you will determine evidence-informed benchmarks for progression towards health-promoting environments for cardiovascular patients (Study 3). This will be an initial evaluation of environmental information incorporation (e.g., noise, healthy food access, access to green spaces and perceived safety) that could be incorporated to improve lifestyle intervention effectiveness.Job description
As a PhD student, you are part of a research team. You will be guided by Prof. dr. Anna Petra Nieboer (First promotor, Erasmus University Rotterdam) and Prof. dr. Alessandro Bozzon (Second promotor, Delft University) as part of the Healthy Society team, together with the other principal investigators of the program. In addition, you will be involved in teaching activities within the Bachelor of Health Sciences and in the Master of Healthcare Management. You will be appointed at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management, department of Socio-Medical Sciences.