Research project description

PhD will investigate the mental health status of people living with chronic diseases and disabilities, focusing on how living arrangements and care networks contribute to defining the mental well-being of dependent individuals.  

Having a chronic illness or a mobility restriction increases the likelihood of experiencing depression, anxiety, etc. Simultaneously, mental health issues can worsen overall health conditions and lead to chronic physical health issues. Among other factors, household composition and care network availability, as well as the level of social interactions have emerged as fundamental aspects in understanding the individual’s happiness. We anticipate that these factors also apply to people suffering from chronic conditions, also taking special interest in assessing differences in mental health according to sex, age group, socioeconomic status and place of residence (country, CCAA, rural/urban). 

To gain an in-depth understanding of the relationship between mental health and chronic diseases or disabilities, it is essential to employ appropriate methodological approaches. This is facilitated by using longitudinal surveys that track individuals over time, such as the Survey of Health and Ageing in Europe (SHARE), that has been biannually following individuals since 2004. SHARE now spans 27 European countries and Israel, with data available for 8 waves and 2 special SHARE-Corona waves (2020 and 2021), designed to investigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on (mental) health, health behaviour, changes in employment and social networks. 

In the context of the recent coronavirus pandemic, these surveys will also allow us to explore whether absolute and relative mental health differences changed during this period for dependent people. 

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: 

  • We encourage applications from students coming from Epidemiology, Public Health, Statistics, Sociology, Economics, or other fields related to Demography.  
  • Candidates are expected to have knowledge of quantitative methods.  
  • Good writing skills, basic knowledge of Spanish, experience working with demographic methods and survey data, and related experience or previous work on the proposed subject of study are considered an advantage. 
  • 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.  

Research group/s description

The PhD student will join CED’s “Health and Ageing” research group, dedicated to studying the challenges posed by population ageing to the organization of our societies and the well-being of its inhabitants. The importance is not just that people live more years, but that those extra years are lived in good health. The research group also extensively analyses the persistent gender and social inequalities.  

The CED is one of the six best population research centres in Europe. It received the “HR Excellence in Research Award” from the European Commission and forms part of the Population Europe network that brings together pioneering demographic research centres to create a lively debate on population issues and disseminate scientific findings. CED also has the highest qualification granted by the Catalan Research Centres institute CERCA.  

At CED, researchers enjoy a proactive, collaborative and international work environment, aspects that are fundamental for good research practice. 

Jeroen Spijker, Demographers