Unraveling information processing for risky and uncertain decisions in health

Unraveling information processing for risky and uncertain decisions in health

Published Deadline Location
8 Apr 1 May Rotterdam

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Job description

The assessment of the effectiveness and side-effects of medical products remains focused on each medical product in isolation. Given the aging of the population and the growing number of people diagnosed with a chronic disease and/or co-morbidities, treatment decisions cannot always be evaluated as independent decisions for each separate medical product. While each medical product has its own associated risks (in terms of side effects), patients with co-morbidities may be confronted with a portfolio of risks. Currently, it is unclear how people respond to multiple risks, how they process information when confronted with multiple risks and how this impacts their treatment decision-making.

When we properly account for the risk portfolio of a patient during the evaluation of risks, we can more accurately predict the reasons why a patient uses a certain medical product (or not), or why patients are non-adherent or discontinue the use of a medical product. Such insights are needed to increase proper use of medical products, prevent misuse, and ensure adequate education and expectations before the start of treatment. This in turn will boost cost-effectiveness of these products and reduce waste of resources.

Job description
The PhD candidate will conduct a mixed-method study. It will start with a literature review, to set up a theoretical framework for decision-making under risk and uncertainty from different research fields (e.g., risk communication, psychology, health economics and behavioral economics). Next, a series of experiments will be conducted, using methods such as eye-tracking to investigate what people focus on when confronted with multi-risk and uncertain decision situations. Results will be used to design a series of qualitative interviews using vignettes to investigate when people decide a treatment choice is risky or uncertain, and how they make decisions in such situations. Finally, by means of a preference survey, relevant personal characteristics such as health literacy, numeracy, and decision-making style will be measured to determine to what extent this impacts how people respond to multiple risks and uncertainty in treatment decision-making. The remaining steps of the trajectory will be determined based on the outcomes of the earlier research steps, urgency, and relevance, as well as on personal interest of the candidate in collaboration with the research team.


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)


The successful applicant for this position is expected to have a recent or almost completed MSc degree in e.g., health sciences, psychology, health economics, sociology, behavioral economics. The ideal candidate has a qualitative background, experience with quantitative research methods and a motivation for methodological studies in the field of healthcare. Applicants must have excellent communication and writing skills in Dutch and English and are able to collaborate closely in a multidisciplinary group of researchers from different departments of the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Computer skills should at least include Microsoft office, SPSS, ATLAS.ti, STATA or similar statistical software.

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 1 July 2024 and you will be based at the Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM). This position is for 1 fte. We offer a 1,5-year position which will be extended to 4 years based on performance. The salary 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. The contract is entered into for the duration of the contract.

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. www.eur.nl.

Faculty / Institute / Central service
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 1000 students. In addition, research is being done on three major research themes: ‘competition and regulation in healthcare’, ‘quality and efficiency in healthcare’ and ‘healthcare management’. ESHPM has about 175 employees. The position offered is within the department of Health Technology Assessment (HTA).


The Health Technology Assessment (HTA) department within ESHPM, and its linked contract research institute iMTA, are distinguished by and internationally renowned for independent and excellent research in HTA, health economics and health outcomes research. The HTA department contributes to important and influential methodological innovations in these areas. It is dedicated to stimulating the use of cost-effectiveness information in healthcare decision making. The department is responsible for teaching HTA in several courses of the bachelor Health Policy and Management, the master programmes Health Economics Policy and Law (HEPL), and Health Economics (HE), and the European master programme Health Economics and Management (EUHEM).


  • PhD
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 4191


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

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Burgemeester Oudlaan 50, 3062PA, Rotterdam

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