PhD ‘Improving health through choice: choice-driven behavioural interventions

PhD ‘Improving health through choice: choice-driven behavioural interventions

Published Deadline Location
27 Nov 7 Jan Rotterdam

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PhD - Gezondheid verbeteren door middel van keuze: keuzegestuurde gedragsinterventieseuzes

Job description

Did you (almost) complete Master's degree in behavioral sciences (e.g. psychology or economics) and are you intrigued by the application of behavioral interventions to promote health? The Health Economics research group at the Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM) is seeking a motivated PhD student to explore the decision-making process behind selecting and implementing interventions for health behavior change. Your research project will focus specifically on personalized behavioral interventions.

Job description
Personalized interventions promote healthier and more sustainable behaviour by customizing interventions to meet the unique needs, characteristics or preferences of individuals or groups. Hence, personalized interventions can, in theory, improve (cost-)effectiveness of interventions. Furthermore, by personalizing interventions it may be possible to target specific subgroups that are particularly vulnerable or in need of help. It is, however, not immediately clear how to personalize interventions, i.e., how to fit interventions to individuals’ needs, characteristics or preferences.

In this PhD project, we investigate the potential benefits and limitations of choice-driven personalization, meaning that individuals themselves are involved in designing and/or selecting the type of intervention they receive directly. Rather than relying heavily on data and algorithms, choice-driven personalization enables individuals to autonomously design and/or select (into) interventions that fit them. Existing work has shown that choice-driven personalization may be promising in specific contexts (e.g., for different types of financial incentives), but it remains unclear who benefits from getting to choose in behavioural interventions and who doesn’t (or perhaps is even disadvantaged by it).

In particular, a key insight motivating behavioural interventions is that many individuals, when left to their own devices, are often unable to act in line with their (self-expressed) best interests. Choice as a personalization tool, in this sense can be a double-edged sword. It offers individuals a chance to commit themselves to a course of action that will help them change their behaviour, but at the same time it may be that those individuals needing most help with realizing behaviour change will also have difficulties choosing the interventions that will help them.

In this project, we aim to understand how letting people choose their interventions has been used before to encourage healthier behavior. We'll figure out for whom and in what situations this choice-based approach improves intervention effectiveness. Then, we'll create and test a framework for making personalized interventions that let people choose, using experiments in both controlled environments and real-world settings.


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)


  • You hold a Master’s degree in psychology, (health or behavioural) economics, health sciences, or other behavioural science disciplines studying behaviour change.
  • You have a good understanding of experimental and quantitative research methods and have an affinity with the design and implementation of health interventions.
  • You are highly analytical and have some knowledge of theories of behaviour (change) in the social sciences.
  • You have excellent communication and (academic) writing skills in English
  • You are excited about working on the intersection between different scientific fields, e.g. psychology, behavioural and health economics.
  • You are excited to become part of the vibrant Ph.D. community in your department.

As a PhD student affiliated with ESHPM’s HE department, your primary duty will be to conduct research. In total, up to 25% of your hours in a given academic year is reserved for other teaching and personal development (attending courses and conferences)

Conditions of employment

We offer you an internationally oriented and varied job in an enthusiastic team, with excellent working conditions in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU).

The start date of this position is 5 February 2024 and you will be based at in Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM). This position is for 0.9 fte - 1 fte FTE. The salary is dependent on your experience and knowledge and ranges from a minimum of € 2.770 to a maximum of € 3.539 gross per month Scale PhD on a fulltime basis (38 hours), in accordance with the CAO-NU.

Everything else we offer you, you can find below!


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.

Faculty / Institute / Central service
Thanks to its degree programmes and research activities, which focus on policy- and management-related topics in healthcare, ESHPM is a leading institute in the Netherlands. ESHPM combines various academic disciplines, such as economics, law, socio-medical sciences, organisation science and public administration. This multidisciplinary approach to teaching and research is unique, as are our close ties to policymakers and people working in the healthcare industry.

ESHPM is situated in the Bayle Building on Erasmus University Rotterdam’s Woudestein Campus, and has close ties with Erasmus Medical Centre. Some 1,600 students attend ESHPM, and the faculty has some 200 employees. ESHPM is very much in favour of internationalisation.


The Health Economics (HE) department employs approximately 40 persons who hail from various social science disciplines, such as (health) economics, health sciences, psychology, and sociology. The department conducts research and teaches courses on several prominent themes in which this research group is nationally and internationally leading. The themes include: behavioural and experimental health economics (your position is based in this theme), Global Health Economics, Health Equity, Health and Labor Economics, methodology of health economic evaluations, priority setting in the distribution of health and healthcare and long-term care.


  • PhD
  • Economics
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3894


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

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Burgemeester Oudlaan 50, 3062PA, Rotterdam

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