Research project description

PhD will investigate the trends in the onset of mental health disorders and the associated multimorbidity and mortality dynamics in Catalonia.  

This project aims at documenting with unprecedented detail the trends in the onset of mental health disorders and the associated multimorbidity and mortality dynamics in Catalonia, a region in Spain with 7.5 Million inhabitants. To do so, we plan to take advantage of a huge and largely underexplored database: the health registers for the entire population in Catalonia — the “Public Data Analysis for Health Research and Innovation Program” (PADRIS). The large number of cases included in the registers and their longitudinal nature (i.e., the evolution of patients in the system can be tracked over time since the year 2005) offers a unique opportunity to observe the health trajectories of individuals and measure the evolution of true comorbidity patterns.  

Another very unusual and highly attractive characteristic of the dataset is that it links mortality with morbidity information, thus allowing the possibility of studying these two demographic phenomena as a coherent whole – rather than as separate compartments as is usually the case because of data constraints. With this novel information, it will be possible to compare the health trajectories of individuals diagnosed with mental health disorders against those individuals without such diagnoses. 

Another of the main goals of the project is to develop new population health indicators to obtain a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of contemporary population health dynamics in Catalonia. The richness of the PADRIS dataset cannot be fully described with standard population health measures (like life expectancy or healthy life expectancy), so the design and implementation of new indicators that go beyond population-level averages and explain the heterogeneity of the corresponding health distribution is among the project key objectives.

Academic background / Skills

Candidates must hold a degree that allows admission to the official doctoral programme at UAB.  

Additional requirements for a stronger application are: 

  • Applicants should be able to demonstrate a vocation for research and interest in demographic challenges.  
  • They are required to comply with the academic requirements to access the PhD in Demography program of the UAB which, among others, requires accreditation of 300 ECTS credits, and a good level of speaking and writing English.  

Particularly well-valued will be if the applicant is in the possession of the following: 

  • Previous studies in the area of Demography or related disciplines such as Political Sciences, Sociology, Geography, History, Economics, Mathematics or Statistics. 
  • Experience in the treatment and analysis of quantitative data and standard demographic methods (e.g., life tables, work with cross-sectional and/or longitudinal survey or register data). 
  • Experience or previous work on the proposed subject of study. 
  • Strong quantitative skills 
  • Good writing skills  

Research group/s description

The “Health and Ageing”group that aims at producing scientific knowledge on some of the most pressing issues in contemporary health dynamics, with the ultimate goal of guiding the design and implementation of public policies to promote healthier and fairer societies. The main research lines of the unit revolve around the following topics: Ageing and Society; Health, Mortality and Causes of Death; Health Inequalities; and Elderly Care. The group members have participated in 29 research projects during the period July 2017-April 2022, either as principal investigators, as co-PIs or as team members. Overall, 27 of these projects have been awarded through public and competitive calls from European, American, Spanish and Catalan institutions, and the remaining 2 come from private contracts.  

The group has a high level of internationalization and excels in its research. It is led by Dr. Iñaki Permanyer, an ICREA Research Professor who has been awarded two consecutives ERC grants. 

Health and Ageing research group