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PhD scholarship in Designing Sustainable Behaviour Change to Prevent Spread of Infections in Nursing Homes

Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (DTU)

Frist 15. juni 2020

The Department of Technology, Management and Economics at DTU-Technical University of Denmark invites applications for a 3-year position in Designing sustainable behaviour change to prevent spread of infections in nursing homes, starting ideally in September 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter. The PhD candidate will be working at the intersection of design, behaviour, and health and elderly care.

The PhD position will be based in the Innovation Division in the research group Engineering Systems Design. The group is characterised by a vibrant and supportive research environment with engaged staff and strong research collaborations with leading universities and industry worldwide. Our research focuses on understanding and improving the ways in which complex socio-technical engineering systems, including healthcare systems, are designed and managed throughout their life cycles. We have a number of healthcare innovation research projects and are members of the Copenhagen Center for Health Technology (CACHET), which this project is co-funded by.

Within systems- and behavioural design, the focus of this PhD will be on preventing infections and contagious diseases in the nursing home context. This is a challenge as it is well-known that staff, resident and visitor behaviour form an important part of the causal paths of infection and little is known about how to design for sustainable behavioural changes tied to risks of infection. Moreover, the challenge is exacerbated because nursing homes serve both as a private home and an institutional facility, and a purely “institutional” approach may violate the elderly residents’ need for social interaction and their privacy. The private home/care facility dilemma therefore complicates the design of solutions that achieve long-lasting, efficacious behavioural change, and that positively affect staff satisfaction and resident well-being. Interventions include exploration of the use of personalised healthcare technologies.

The current Corona pandemic has unambiguously shown the importance of this topic and the urgency of devising solutions to benefit nursing home residents, staff and families.

The project addresses gaps in our knowledge about how to design environments and behaviour changes that are efficient, respectful and well-liked by both the elderly and the staff, in other words, solutions that succeed in balancing the psycho-social needs of the elderly residents against the need for infection controls.

The project will seek to demonstrate that by applying (behavioural) design methods and user empowerment approaches, we can create sustainable change in behaviours known to affect infection risks. The aims of the project are, to:

  • Study how behavioural routes and potential changes in behaviour are linked to staff satisfaction and resident well-being through qualitative, ethnographic research.
  • Design interventions that break behavioural paths that are associated with risk of contagious diseases (potentially also in collaboration with our Design and Innovation students).
  • Implement and test interventions at two care homes/wards (plus one as control)

The project is a collaboration between DTU, the Municipality of Copenhagen, Statens Serum Institute, and the Copenhagen Center for Health Technology (Cachet). Project supervision includes close collaboration with the University of Copenhagen and Delft University of Technology.

Responsibilities and tasks
You will become part of a multidisciplinary research team with expertise in design for behavioural change, systems design, infection prevention, elderly care and health innovation.

The candidate’s responsibilities will include:

  • You will be responsible for ethnographic research into the nursing home context and behaviours related the risk of contagion.
  • You will contribute to the advanced research conducted in our group on behavioural design, systems design and health innovation.
  • Your research includes exploring and measuring wellbeing of residents (and potentially their informal caregivers and loved-ones) as well as staff satisfaction through qualitative methods as well as established scales.
  • You will engage in iterative design on basis of behavioural design and testing. This can potentially involve supervising student projects aimed aimed at contributing to these tasks.
  • You have the ability to work focused and to achieve ambitious goals
  • You will be collaborating closely with leading our research partners and international collaborators and relevant care organisations.
  • You have a strong interest in the quality of elderly care in a broad sense and would like to contribute to improve this through your project.
  • You will engage in teaching as part of the Design and Innovation programme at DTU

More specifically, you will have the opportunity to be

  • Reviewing known behavioural routes and barriers/interventions related to contagious diseases, particularly focused on the recent surge in research emerging from the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Designing and executing ethnographic research studies in context (to the extent that this will be possible, e.g. given COVID-19, GDPR) to identify critical behaviours and relevant contextual factors (e.g. room layout, protocols, local practices) that contribute to causal paths of contagion.
  • Becoming proficient in the application of the vision in design methodology (Hekkert, P., & Van Dijk, 2011; Tromp & Hekkert, 2016, 2018). Use the methodology for development of an intervention design framework and envisioned integrated care/home experience for elderly in care homes (potentially impacted by comorbidities, including dementia).
  • Applying of the framework and creating and comprehensive overview of the relevant care system elements and sub-systems and guide decision-making as to where and how in the system interventions have the opportunity to have maximum effect with minimum means.
  • Designing interventions that break or re-route behavioural paths that are associated with risk of infectious and contagious diseases. Co-creative development of interventions with relevant stakeholders in at least 2 care homes and relevant experts in The Municipality of Copenhagen (Københavns Kommune) and Statens Serum institute.
  • Delivering a concrete design brief and requirements.
  • Design, plan, implement and evaluate the most appropriate interventions at two nursing homes.
  • Leading these activities in a co-creative manner, i.e. by involving nursing home staff, infection prevention experts, residents and potentially their loved-ones and/or informal caregivers, and stakeholders at the Municipality of Copenhagen (Københavns Kommune).
  • Engaging in research dissemination, including in peer-reviewed international conference proceedings, - journals. The candidate will therefore need to have or be open to acquiring cross-disciplinary knowledge at the intersection of elderly care, infection prevention and behavioural design.

Keywords: Behavioural design, systems design, design methodology, health, health behaviour, intervention design, care homes, hygiene, healthy ageing and wellbeing.

Candidates should have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree. The interdisciplinary nature of the project means that applicants from a broad range of backgrounds within the technical and social sciences will be considered. Preferably, candidates should hold a master’s degree in design, behavioural psychology, health sciences, nursing or a degree in other areas with additional qualifications relevant for the responsibilities and tasks.

Preference will be given to those candidates with a high level of Danish and English who can demonstrate an aptitude for empirical, ethnographic research, conceptual work, and have the confidence to network within academic, clinical and public organisations.

Further qualifications include:

  • Interest in engineering- and service design.
  • Empathic interactions with various stakeholders in healthcare, including care-seeking individuals.
  • Excellent collaboration skills.
  • Excellent communication skills, fluent written and oral English, Danish language capability is a plus.
  • Ability to work under deadlines with a result-driven attitude.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide.

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

The workplace is DTU Lynbgy Campus.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Principal Supervisor Associate Professor Jaap Daalhuizen, jaada@dtu.dk, +45 4525 1542 and Head of Group Professor Anja Maier, amai@dtu.dk, +45 4525 6045.

You can read more about the Engineering Systems Design research group at www.es.man.dtu.dk and about Cachet at www.cachet.dk. The PhD project will also be co-supervised by researchers from The University of Copenhagen and Delft University of Technology.

Please submit your online application no later than 15 June 2020 (23:59 local time). Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application, including your research activities and ideas for the research project (cover letter, max 3-pages)
  • Curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Grade transcripts and copies of your original BSc/MSc diploma, certificates, and lists of subjects with your results as well as their preferably official translation into English.
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)
  • Two reference contacts who may be contacted by the assessment committee

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

DTU Management conducts high-level research and teaching with a focus on sustainability, transport, innovation, and management science. Our goal is to create knowledge on the societal aspects of technology. We explore and create value in the areas of management science, innovation and design thinking, business analytics, systems and risk analyses, human behavior, regulation, and policy analysis. The department offers teaching from introductory to advanced courses/projects at BSc, MSc, and PhD level. The Department has a staff of approximately 350. Read more here.

Technology for people
DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 11,500 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. Our main campus is in Kgs. Lyngby north of Copenhagen and we have campuses in Roskilde and Ballerup and in Sisimiut in Greenland.

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Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (DTU)
Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (DTU)
DTU er et teknisk eliteuniversitet med international rækkevidde og standard. Vores mission er at udvikle og nyttiggøre naturvidenskab og teknisk videnskab til gavn for samfundet. 11.200 studerende uddanner sig her til fremtiden, og 6.000 medarbejdere har hver dag fokus på uddannelse, forskning, myndighedsrådgivning og innovation, som bidrager til øget vækst og velfærd.

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