PhD position at RIVM on statistical methods to prevent information bias

Jan van de Kassteele

National Institue for Public Health and the Environment – RIVM

Bilthoven, the Netherlands

PhD student: “Statistical methods to prevent information bias”

Would you like to contribute to improving research methods in public health and to ensure that these are implemented? Are you comfortable with statistical methods? Does thinking about information bias make you enthusiastic, and even more the thought of providing solutions to it? I you answer yes, this PhD position may fit you well!

Research purpose

Misclassification of exposure or outcome status occurs frequently in surveillance and epidemiological studies and can lead to information bias. This complicates interpretation of results and can lead to incorrect conclusions. Statistical methods have been developed that can reduce information bias. However, these are poorly implemented due to lack of awareness and experience. The research project DEMISTIFY (DEbugging MIclassification: STatistical methods for correction of InFormation bias in epidemiologY) will start mid-2024. We want to study the validity and applicability of statistical methods for information bias due to misclassification in representative cases from the RIVM. We will also develop guidelines for implementation and communication strategies to improve the use of these methods. In this way, we want to improve the monitoring of public health programs and communication about results, in order to achieve larger impact on public health. The research project is funded from the Strategic Research Programme RIVM, an internal research program for research, innovation, and knowledge development. With this program, the RIVM targets subjects that deserve specific attention because they may influence public health and environment in the future.

Tasks of the PhD student

DEMISTIFY is part of the Strategic Research Program RIVM. With this project, you contribute to the RIVM’s capability to perform her public health tasks in the future. You also generate knowledge that can improve the quality of research both within and outside the RIVM. The PhD student is central to the research project. During the study, different centers and departments of the RIVM will get involved. You will collect interesting case studies from them and investigate how information bias plays a role and – more importantly – how to best solve this. During the project, you will frequently discuss interim results with them and the research team to decide together which direction the project will take. You will also develop yourself as expert on statistical methods for information bias. One of your important tasks is to ensure that knowledge that has been developed in the project is embedded in the RIVM. At the same time to ensure that this is available for researchers across the globe.

Specifically, your tasks are:

•             Coordination of the study, including to connect with the different departments involved

•             Analyzing 3-5 concrete cases, which includes validation of different existing statistical methods in the context of these cases

•             Development of practical guidelines for application of the study results

•             Giving in-house trainings about the study results for RIVM employees

•             Presenting the study results at national and international congresses

•             Publishing the study results in scientific journals

Together, this is a job with challenges and responsibilities, variety in tasks, and ample opportunity to develop yourself. The scientific papers will form the basis of your PhD thesis.

What do you bring?

You find this research important and look forward to work on this for the upcoming 4 years. You are interested in methodology of scientific research and are eager to improving it. You have a collaborative attitude. A coordinating role fits you well or you want to develop these skills.

Next to this we ask for the following:

•             You have a master’s degree in statistics, preferably including epidemiological (elective) courses. Or you have a master’s degree in epidemiology and have followed several statistical courses.

•             You are proficient in English. Proficiency in Dutch is not required but is preferred.

•             You have an affinity with issues in public health.

•             You enjoy working in a multidisciplinary team and know how to value your colleagues’ contributions.

Center for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Surveillance

At the RIVM over 2300 colleagues work together towards a healthy population living in a sustainable, safe and healthy environment. The center for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Surveillance (EPI), part of the Center for Infectious Disease Control, collects data to follow the situation regarding infectious diseases in the Dutch population. For this purpose, EPI uses data from surveillance to obtain timely insights into trends and risks related to infectious diseases. EPI conducts epidemiological research, including in case of infectious disease outbreaks. Also we assess the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of control measures. EPI focuses on the effectiveness of the National Immunisation Programma, healthcare-associated infections, antimicrobial resistance, respiratory infections, enteral and vector-born infections, and zoonotic infections. This work is supported by strong methodological expertise in the area of surveillance, biostatistics, and mathematical modelling. The results of our work are used by, amongst others, the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, the Health Council and Municipal Public Health Services, to develop policy or advice. As RIVM we also provide recommendations on potential interventions.

EPI consists of various professional teams, which is characterized by professional expertise and respect for everyone’s input.


Take the next step in your career as a researcher and apply via Address your application to Hester de Melker, head of the department of RVP. Do you have questions related to the position? Please, contact Henri van Werkhoven on +31-6-41245544 or Mirjam Knol on +31-6-31116713. You can also contact our Corporate Recruiter, Joep Staps, on +31-6-86555180 (also WhatsApp). React before May 29th, 2024. Also see