Vacancies 70542-PhD-candidate-Social-Health-Games
  • 36 hours a week
  • Temporary
  • 4 years
  • Date of publication: 8 August 2019
  • Deadline: 2 September 2019
  • Scale 10A: max € 43305 gross per year at full employment (incl. vacation bonus and end of year payments)
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Job description

Are you looking for an interesting job to combine your creativity, gaming expertise, and complexity research interest in solving a huge societal problem?

In that case you can become the PhD candidate in our ambitious 4 years interdisciplinary project that aims to get grip on the huge societal problem of loneliness among older persons. You challenge is to create synergy between scientists, creative experts in digitalized social health games, older and younger persons, and a big private partner (DELA) with social interest.
Using an interdisciplinary approach we want to get grip on this complex societal challenge by developing appealing new intergenerational digital games that promote interaction between different age-groups. We want to optimize feasibility for use, and conduct studies to test the effects of social health games on senior’s loneliness and social networks. For this 4-years NWO funded project we have room for two full time innovative PhDs.

Project description
Our aim is to combine the strengths of complexity science, social science, and the creative gaming industry to provide better understanding of the dynamics of social connections and exploring new options for improving connectedness in our aging society. Currently over one million Dutch seniors complain of loneliness. This negatively interacts with psychological and physical health, and has huge impact on our health and social care system. Using an interdisciplinary approach we want to get grip on this complex societal challenge by realizing four specific aims:
I. Design and develop appealing new intergenerational digital games that promote interaction between different age-groups, optimize feasibility and test proof of concept for measuring and improving social interaction over time.
II. Conduct a randomized trial to test the effects of social health games on senior’s loneliness and social networks. In a linked larger observational study we will follow time series of gaming efforts on the new social games platform to analyze the dynamics in these seniors’ social networks. This includes resilience to natural stressors of social connectedness, such as holiday periods. We will validate dynamic indicators of resilience based on the slowing down of recovery concept as predictors for tipping points in social network structure and psychosocial functioning.
III. Combine these data to develop computational multiscale models to simulate the future of social connectedness with and without widespread use of the socializing games.
IV. Synthesize experimental and modeling results into tools for policy makers and creative professionals to improve seniors’ social health at system level.


We offer an interesting individualized PhD training and project guidance through a highly qualified team collaboration of  Utrecht University (Social Sciences), the University of Amsterdam (Computational Sciences) and Radboud University (Medical Sciences). The studies will take place in the abovementioned network with a creative industry partner (Games Solutions Lab), a market party (Dela), and a network of older persons (Network “100”). The PhD projects will start autumn 2019. You will also exchange experiences and learn from the other awarded NOW projects in this grant.

Relevant master’s degree of one of the following disciplines: computational sciences, engineering design/games development, biomedical or social sciences. However also other backgrounds may have stimulated the necessary skills for you, and enabled you to flourish in:
  • Passion for developing and testing innovations, specifically connected with games or IT interventions.
  • Affinity with, and if possible experience in, applied clinical or social research.
  • Skills and personality fitting the tasks of recruitment, selection and motivation of Dutch older and younger participants.
  • Well-developed social skills and team-spirit: strong ability to connect with other research groups.
  • Skilled in writing academic English, best if evidenced by having published a scientific article(s). Being able to speak Dutch is necessary for at least one PhD because of contacts with the end-users , the other PhD should be able or willing to understand Dutch.
The PhD candidate selected is ambitious and passionate to meet our project goals by methods of complexity sciences combined with creativity and team work. He/she enjoys working on the project deliverables, and at the same time develops him/herself by acquiring new (research) skills, thereby growing to an excellent researcher with a complexity science expertise and an innovative methodological portfolio.


The Radboud university medical center advances knowledge by conducting biomedical, translational and clinical research in order to improve wellbeing. Our key strength is medical life-sciences and clinical practice, with an impressive infrastructure comprising state-of-the-art technology platforms and (translational) research facilities.

Radboudumc strives to be a leading developer of sustainable, innovative and affordable healthcare to improve the health and wellbeing of people and society in the Netherlands and beyond. This is the core of our mission: To have a significant impact on healthcare. To get a better picture of what this entails, check out our strategy.

Read more about what it means to work at Radboudumc and how you can do your part.

Employment conditions

The project will appoint a PhD candidate for 4 years in total, primarily based in the Radboudumc, but who may also partly work at other project sites. Your performance will be evaluated after 1 years according to the Donders PhD track. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by another 3 years. You will be ranked in the Dutch university job-ranking system (UFO) as a PhD-student (promovendus).

Upon commencement of employment we require a certificate of conduct (Verklaring Omtrent het Gedrag, VOG) and there will be, depending on the type of job, a screening based on the provided cv. Radboud university medical center’s HR Department will apply for this certificate on your behalf.

Read more about the Radboudumc employment conditions and what our International Office can do for you when moving to the Netherlands.

Comments and contact information

Additional information
If this seems to be the ultimate challenge for you and you are keen on contributing and developing your innovation and scientific talents, you can get more information from Prof. Marcel Olde Rikkert, geriatrician and co-leaders Dr. Rense Corten or Dr. Rick Quax

You should submit a motivation letter (max. 1 page), a CV (including a list of grades obtained during your MSc study), and the names of two persons who can provide references. We will probably start the selection process with short (15 min) interviews.

Please apply before September 2, 2019.
Recruitment agencies are asked not to respond to this job posting.

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