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Smoking is one of the most important preventable risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes and, yet, it is common among women with a low socio-economic status (SES). In 2018, 16% of low-educated women in the Netherlands smoked during pregnancy compared to o
Smoking is one of the most important preventable risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes and, yet, it is common among women with a low socio-economic status (SES). In 2018, 16% of low-educated women in the Netherlands smoked during pregnancy compared to only 3% of high-educated women. As high-income countries start to reach the tobacco 'endgame', it is important to find ways to reach the most persistent smokers especially considering pregnant smokers.
Two promising areas of inquiry can be identified to better understand barriers to smoking cessation in this target group. First, to substantially reduce smoking in the low SES group, a broad perspective might be necessary. The current prenatal healthcare guidelines recommend smoking cessation support based on the individual behaviour of the pregnant woman. Considering the addictive and social nature of smoking, this might be insufficient. Indeed, having another smoker (especially the partner) in the household is a major risk factor for continuing smoking during pregnancy. In turn, this raises questions about the impact of the wider social network among the neighborhood of smoking pregnant women, including family members (e.g. parents, siblings)as well as other social contacts. Second, guided by strong international evidence of the detrimental short‐ and long‐term health effects of smoking, local and national governments have passed legislation aimed at discouraging smoking initiation, reducing consumption among smokers, and reducing exposure to tobacco smoke. The policy mechanisms include taxation, restrictions on advertising and distribution, educational programs, and bans on smoking in public places. However, the effectiveness of the existing policies is not clear. Moreover, such policies do not always reach the intended goals.
The interdisciplinary PhD student will carry out a research project with the goal to (i) explore the impact of the social network (partner, family, neighbourhood) on smoking during pregnancy and smoking cessation and (ii) evaluate the importance of local smoking policies on the smoking behaviour and identify the good practices (including care pathways, and implementation of guidelines), laws, policies and approaches that lead to lower rates of smoking during pregnancy exploring an alternative endgame for smoking pregnant women. The PhD-project will consist mainly of quantitative analysis using data from the Lifelines cohort study, administrative data (CBS, Perined) and other secondary data sources.
The supervision team consists of Prof. Viola Angelini and Dr Laura Viluma from the Department of Economics, Econometrics and Finance (Faculty of Economics and Business), and epidemiologist Dr. Lilian Peters from the Department of General Practice & Elderly Medicine (UMCG), section Midwifery Science. The PhD student will be enrolled in the Graduate School of Economics & Business and will attending at research meetings and other activities at both faculties.
University of Groningen
The PhD student is expected to:
• have a relevant master degree in the social or health sciences (economics, sociology, epidemiology, bioinformatics, statistics or a comparable discipline)
• have strong quantitative research skills
• have an interdisciplinary background, or affinity with working in an interdisciplinary team
• be able to show perseverance, flexibility, project management and collaboration skills
• be fluent in English (both oral and written)
• be able to finish the PhD thesis in four years
• enjoy planning and taking initiatives
• enjoy academic writing and have the desire to publish
• be able and willing to work in Groningen, in an international and interdisciplinary environment.
Conditions of employment
Fixed-term contract: 48 months.
The University of Groningen offers scholarships for PhD students for a period of 4 years under the condition of a positive assessment at the end of the first year. The successful candidate will receive a gross scholarship of € 2,249 per month, of which wage tax and social insurance premiums will be deducted. For more information on the RUG PhD scholarship programme and its benefits please check the website at:
An assessment will be part of the procedure, consisting of psychological tests and an interview.
Starting date: 1 September 2022
Faculty of Economics and Business
Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has enjoyed an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative centre of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Balanced study and career paths in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the approximately 36,000 students and researchers to develop their own individual talents. Belonging to the best research universities in Europe and joining forces with prestigious partner universities and networks, the University of Groningen is truly an international place of knowledge.
Faculty of Economics and Business
The Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB) has an inspiring study and working environment for students and employees. International accreditation enables the Faculty to assess performance against the highest international standards. It also creates an exciting environment of continuous improvement. FEB's programmes, academic staff and research do well on various excellence ranking lists.
Faculty of Medical Sciences
The Faculty of Medical Sciences is located at the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG). The UMCG is one of the Netherlands’ eight university medical centers and the largest employer in the Northern Netherlands. It has an ambitious, dynamic, international environment with state of the art facilities. More than 13.000 employees provide patient care, are involved in medical education and perform cutting edge scientific research with focus on healthy ageing.
The Department of General Practice & Elderly Care Medicine of the UMCG has various tasks for which more than 200 enthusiastic and committed employees work together. They provide student education and the three year training to become a general practitioner. The department also conducts scientific research in general practice, elderly care medicine and midwifery, and provides patient care in the Academic General Practice Groningen.