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PhD Candidate Biopsychosocial factors in chronic skin conditions

Vacancy number
Job type
PhD positions
Hours (in fte)
External/ internal
Placed on
16 April 2024
Closing date
5 May 2024 Vacancy closed

PhD Candidate Biopsychosocial factors in chronic skin conditions

In the Netherlands, over 2.5 million individuals suffer from chronic inflammatory skin diseases (e.g., psoriasis, atopic eczema). The psychological impact of these conditions is substantial, including increased risk for depression and anxiety, and a high prevalence of experienced stigmatization. In turn, psychological factors are known to influence the severity and symptoms of skin conditions (e.g., stress, feeling stigmatized, or expectancies that itch symptoms may get worse), and related behavior (e.g. excessive scratching behaviour, treatment non-adherence). However, this field remains underexplored, resulting in suboptimal treatment outcomes and high socio-economic costs. More knowledge on the relationship between psychological factors and severity as well as symptoms of skin conditions could help predict which patients will benefit from which treatments. In this PhD project, you will focus on examining the biopsychosocial impact of six chronic skin conditions, and the influence of this biopsychosocial impact on disease outcomes and treatment outcomes. Finding the right treatment at the right moment for the individual patient with a skin condition is the main aim of Next Generation ImmunoDermatology (NGID), a large nationwide consortium that this PhD project will be a part of.

What you will do
In this PhD project, your main focus will be to examine the influence of biopsychosocial factors such as distress, expectancies and stigmatization on disease outcomes in patients with chronic skin conditions. To this end, you will conduct prospective research in collaboration with hospitals throughout the Netherlands. Furthermore, you will conduct experimental laboratory research with behavioural tasks and/or standardized inductions of itch. Lastly, throughout your PhD, you will be involved in the assessment of patients’ needs and wishes, and in ensuring that the patient perspective is prioritized in all aspects of this nationwide project.

Key work activities

  • Contribute ideas about the design of prospective and laboratory studies to examine the influence of biopsychosocial factors on skin disease outcomes
  • Examine and safeguard the needs and preferences of patients throughout the project
  • Recruit and test participants
  • Carry out data handling and -analyses
  • Write articles which will culminate in a PhD dissertation

Where you will work
The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences consists of five institutes: Centre for Science and Technology Studies, Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, Political Science, and Psychology. The faculty has approximately 7000 students and 1000 staff members. Within the institutes, not only education is provided but also groundbreaking research is conducted that pushes the boundaries of our understanding of human behaviour and societal structures. What makes our faculty unique is the diversity of research topics, the various styles of teaching, and the way professional support is organized; this provides you with the opportunity to explore and develop your interests and expertise. Visit our website for an impression: Welcome to the Leiden Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences - Leiden University.

Institute of Psychology
The Institute of Psychology educates new generations to contribute to the challenges of our society, now and in the future, based on leading behavioral scientific research and education. This is achieved through collaboration both within and outside our institute in the field of Psychology and related research areas, both fundamental and applied. The broad bachelor's program and a wide variety of master's specializations also contribute to this goal. Within the institute and the academic community, there is a committed and passionate atmosphere. The themes of Health and Well-being, Social-Cognitive-Affective Decision Making, Development and Learning, and Advanced Behavioral Science Methods guide research and education. The institute values conducting these activities in a safe and inclusive environment and provides space for new developments such as open science, recognition and appreciation, and interdisciplinarity, which are anchored in its strategy. With approximately 5,000 students and 600 staff members, the institute includes the Institute Office, the Department of Bachelor Education, and 6 units for education and research: Health, Medical and Neuropsychology, Clinical Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Developmental and Educational Psychology, Social, Economic and Organisational Psychology, and Methodology and Statistics.

Within the department of Health, Medical and Neuropsychology, this project will fall within the hub theme ‘Diagnostics and interventions for somatic health conditions.’ You will work on this project under supervision of Dr. Sylvia van Beugen, Dr. Antoinette van Laarhoven, and Prof. dr. Andrea Evers. In addition, you will be part of the national consortium of Next Generation ImmunoDermatology (NGID), in which an enthusiastic, nationwide, interdisciplinary team works together to innovate the field of dermatology. You will collaborate with a variety of specialists and stakeholders within this consortium, including (but not limited to) dermatologists and patients with skin conditions.

What you bring

  • Master's degree (preferably Research Master) in Health and Medical Psychology, or closely related study program;
  • Good social and communication skills and enthusiasm about closely collaborating with partners from different fields (e.g., patient organizations, health care professionals);
  • Affinity with medical field and/or interest in understanding chronic medical conditions, particularly chronic skin conditions;
  • Good analytical, methodological, and statistical skills (e.g., SPSS, R)
  • Interest in working with psychophysiological measures (e.g. standardized itch inductions such as applying histamine to the skin);
  • Fluent in spoken and written English;
  • Fluent in spoken and written Dutch (core tasks are in Dutch);
  • Leiden University expects teachers to have the University Teaching Qualification (UTQ). If you not already hold this qualification or its equivalent, you must be prepared to obtain it within two years.

If you immediately recognise yourself in this profile, or if do you not quite meet all the requirements, but you believe that this is the right job for you, we look forward to your application!

What we offer
Our goal is to work together to create a transparent and inclusive work environment in which everyone feels welcome and appreciated. Our organisation is always evolving and we need your ideas for improvement and innovation to take us further. We want to devote attention to your personal development.

You can expect an enjoyable job within the socially relevant world of education and research. The University's challenging and international work environment is located just steps away from Leiden’s lively city centre or the bustling city centre of The Hague. We also want to work with you to devote attention to your health and vitality, for example with the fun activities we organise through Healthy University.

We also offer:

  • PHD: An employment contract for (30,4-38 hours per week) as a PhD candidate, initially for a period of 1 year, with the possibility of extension for 3-4 years after a positive evaluation. This contract falls under the CLA of Dutch Universities;
  • A salary of a minimum of € 2.770,- and a maximum of € 3.539,- gross per month, based on a full-time appointment (38 hours) (scale P).
  • A holiday allowance (8%), an end-of-year bonus (8,3%), and an attractive pension scheme at ABP;
  • Flexible working hours: as a standard, you are entitled to a minimum of 29 leave days on the basis of a full-time working week of 38 hours; you can also save for extra leave, for example by working 40 hours a week, and in this way accrue an extra 96 leave hours, or exchange 96 leave hours for a 36-hour week.
  • Lots of options when it comes to secondary employment conditions; we can, for example, discuss options for a sabbatical or paid parental leave. Within our terms of employment individual choices model, you can exchange leave days and/or salary for benefits such as an advantageous sports subscription or bicycle scheme, and we also offer child-care options;
  • If your work allows it, hybrid working is possible within the Netherlands;
  • A home-working allowance (day and internet allowance) and attention for good workplaces. The University will also provide you with a laptop and a mobile telephone (if applicable for the position).

For more information about employment conditions, see https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/werken-bij/sollicitatieprocedure-en-arbeidsvoorwaarden

What we find important
Promoting an inclusive community is central to Leiden University’s values and vision. Leiden University aims to be an inclusive community in which all students and staff members feel valued and respected, and are able to develop to their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our teaching and strengthens our research. High-quality education and research means inclusive education and research.

Want to apply or find out more?
If you want to apply straight away, click the application button.
If you would like more information about what the job entails, please contact

Dr. Antoinette van Laarhoven (a.vanlaarhoven@fsw.leidenuniv.nl) and Dr. Sylvia van Beugen (s.van.beugen@fsw.leidenuniv.nl)

You can apply until May 5th; applications will be processed immediately.

To help us get to know each other better, we follow a number of steps in the application procedure. For more information, see https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/werken-bij/sollicitatieprocedure-en-arbeidsvoorwaarden

  • We believe mobility is very important. That is why we are also publishing this vacancy internally. In case of equal suitability, we will give priority to the internal candidate.
  • A pre-employment screening (references, diplomas, certificate of good conduct (VOG)) may be part of the selection procedure.
  • Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated. If you nevertheless choose to send us CVs, no rights can be derived from this. #LI-Hybrid

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