Urban environment features facilitating patients’ healthy lifestyles

Urban environment features facilitating patients’ healthy lifestyles

Published Deadline Location
18 May 1 Jun Rotterdam

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Healthcare will face major challenges in the coming years. Prevention and a healthy lifestyle are becoming increasingly important.

Job description

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:
  1. What urban environment features influence lifestyle intervention uptake among cardiovascular patients?
  2. Are differences in the urban environment features (as emerging from RQ1) associated with healthy lifestyles among cardiovascular patients?
  3. 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.


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)


You are an exceptionally motivated candidate with a Master's degree in health sciences, environmental or spatial epidemiology, geographic information science or geomatics, design studies, health services research, or social sciences, and preferably a research Master's degree. Excellent quantitative and qualitative research skills, as well as academic writing and presentation in English, are required. Good communication skills are required as you will be part of a multidisciplinary team. You are eager to learn and at ease working in a multidisciplinary setting.

Conditions of employment

An internationally oriented and varied job in an enthusiastic team, with good working conditions in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU).

We offer a full-time position as PhD student at Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR). The PhD candidate will be based at the Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM). We offer a 1.5-year position with the possibility of extension by 2.5 years based on performance. The start date of this position is 1 September 2023 and you will be based at the Campus Woudestein - Rotterdam, located at Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM).

Remuneration will be according to the PhD scales set by the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) and will range from € 2.541 per month in the first year to € 3.247 per month in the fourth year (gross amounts, in case of fulltime employment). Fulltime is considered to be 38 hours per week.

In addition, we offer an 8% holiday allowance, an end-of-year payment of 8.3%, and a very generous paid leave scheme. Furthermore, EUR is affiliated with ABP for the pension provision, and we offer partially paid parental leave, fully paid extended birth leave for partners, a personal career budget, work-life balance coaches, discounted collective health insurance, and more. As an employee, you can also use EUR facilities such as the University library and receive a discount on subscriptions for the Erasmus sports center.

Erasmus University Rotterdam aspires to be an equitable and inclusive community. We nurture an open culture, where everyone is supported to fulfill their full potential. We see inclusivity of talent as the basis of our successes, and the diversity of perspectives and people as a highly valued outcome. EUR provides equal opportunities to all employees and applicants regardless of gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, age, neurodiversity, functional impairment, citizenship, or any other aspect which makes them unique. We look forward to welcoming you to our community.


Erasmus University Rotterdam

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) is an internationally oriented university with a strong social orientation in its education and research, as expressed in our mission 'Creating positive societal impact'. EUR is home to 3.700 academics and professionals and almost 33.000 students from more than 140 countries. Everything we do, we do under the credo The Erasmian Way - Making Minds Matter. We're global citizens, connecting, entrepreneurial, open-minded, and socially involved. These Erasmian Values function as our internal compass and create EUR's distinctive and recognizable profile. From these values, with a broad perspective and with an eye for diversity, different backgrounds and opinions, our employees work closely together to solve societal challenges from the dynamic and cosmopolitan city of Rotterdam. Thanks to the high quality and positive societal impact of our research and education, EUR can compete with the top European universities. www.eur.nl.

Faculty / Institute / Central service
The Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM) is part of Erasmus University Rotterdam and is responsible for a bachelor and four master programs on policy and management in healthcare, which serve 1300 students. ESHPM has about 175 employees. The position offered is within the department of Socio-Medical Sciences. The department of Socio-Medical Sciences within ESHPM addresses socio-medical themes such as patients' experiences, quality of care, and the accessibility and use of (health) care services. Other topics addressed include the consequences of care provision and care reforms for health and well-being of vulnerable groups (including vulnerable older people, older migrants, youth with chronic conditions, people with an intellectual disability, chronically ill people, and low socioeconomic status groups).

About Healthy Society

The Healthy Society program provides unique opportunities to identify how environmental factors facilitate lifestyle intervention implementation among cardiovascular patients and their families, and what types of environmental information may help to improve lifestyle intervention effectiveness, filling an important gap in knowledge on healthy society development. The consortium consists of key leaders in Healthy Society from the Medical Delta Healthy Society Program with excellent track records in different areas of expertise, such as behaviour change methods, use of technologies and design aspects, cardiovascular diseases, computational modelling and artificial intelligence. The consortium leaders already established successful collaborations in previous interdisciplinary projects with each other.

Read more https://www.healthy-society.nl/home

About Medical Delta

Medical Delta is an interdisciplinary collaboration of more than 360 researchers from Erasmus University, Erasmus MC, TU Delft, LUMC, Leiden University and four universities of applied sciences in the province of Zuid-Holland. Together with companies, healthcare organizations and governments, they work on technological solutions for sustainable healthcare. Medical Delta does this through sixteen interdisciplinary scientific programs and practice-oriented field and living labs. In doing so, Medical Delta gives an enormous boost to the life sciences & health sector in the Zuid-Holland region and beyond. More information: www.medicaldelta.nl/en


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3599


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

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Burgemeester Oudlaan 50, 3062PA, Rotterdam

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