PhD Position in Perinatal Depression and Anxiety

Catholic University of Leuven Department of Psychiatry

This current study is situated within the center of Mind-Body research, at the Department of Psychiatry, KU Leuven, Belgium. The general aim of the group is to study the influence of acute and chronic stress on brain, body and behavior in healthy individuals and in individuals with psychiatric disorders. Within this research group prof. Hompes is leading a research line in perinatal psychiatry. Specifically, this project is a collaboration between the center of Mind-Body research, the department of Public Health and Primary Care - Academic Center for General Practice and the the Department of Public Health Psychiatry (DPHP) at KU Leuven.


The perinatal period (defined as pregnancy and the first postnatal year) is a period of important changes and great adjustments for all parents. Up to 20% of(expectant) mothers report perinatal maternal mental health problems (PMH).

Perinatal depression (PD) and Perinatal Anxiety (PA) are one of the most common complications of pregnancy. These are debilitatingconditions affecting (expectant) mothers, her (unborn) child as well as thesupporting system.

The current project is part of a larger two-part research study.

In the first part of this research study, we will conduct a longitudinal epidemiological study of PD in all (expectant) mothers referred to the outpatient clinic of the university hospital of Leuven. The main objective of the first part, and therefore the current project, is to improve the prediction and ultimately the prevention of PD, PA and other mental health and behavioral problems among perinatal women. The second part of this project focuses on the group of expectant mothers with moderate risk to develop PD. The aim of this part is to study whether early online self-help intervention, that has been developed in the context of or aFace-to-face intervention may prevent the actual onset of PD in these mothers.

The current project is part of a larger two-part research study will be initiated in a tertiary care setting. One of the goals of this project is to implement the predictive screening tool in primary care settings, the settings were prevention actually should take place. 


We are looking for a candidate with the following qualifications:

1. A master Degree  in:

    - Master of Medicine

    - Master of Social Sciences

    - Master of Psychology and Educational sciences

    - Master in Movement and Rehabilitation sciences

          The Latter is mandatory

2.       Experience in one or more of the following areas is desirable:

    - Clinical skills and patient or client/care seeker contact in health or welfare

    - Strong communication and social skills:

      * team player

      * able in making good professional contact with: patients/clients/care seeker, medical doctors, other caregivers and the caregiving environment

    - Large interest in research

    - Following attitude and characteristics are necessary to finish a PhD trajectory successfully: Perseverance,  easygoing, being a team player, a good stress resistance,, being accurate, having Analytical skills, being well organized and able to work independently.

    - Speaking Dutch (Level C1) is mandatory

The candidate will have following assignments:

    - Follow the doctoral program within the faculty of medicine

    - Perform a systematic literature review

    - Follow training programs to improve specific knowledge and skills in specific methodologies

    - Perform data collection, field work (good communications with other primary caregivers)

    - Perform analysis, processing, interpretation and reporting of research results

    - Deliver publications in international peer-reviewed scientific journals

    - Present at national and international meetings

    - Complete Assignments of organizational nature

    - Complete Assignments of administrative nature (reporting, documenting, archiving, ...)


The successful candidate will be awarded a full-time (100%), 4 year PhD fellowshipat KU Leuven and will be embedded in a multidisciplinary research group.

    - You will have the unique opportunity to beinvolved in innovative research within the field of perinatal mental health andrisk stratification in which the bridge is built to primary caregiving settings.

    - You will have the opportunity tocollaborate in research with a high social impact.

    - You will work in a dynamic and multidisciplinary research team

    - You will work in an inspiring and  pleasant environment

    - We offer you a very diverse assignment: from literature research to interaction with stakeholders involved (primarycaregivers), to redaction of PhD and field work

    - You will be awarded a full-time (100%), 4year PhD fellowship with the aim to achieve a PhD in biomedical sciences


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Titia Hompes, mail: or Prof. dr. Birgitte Schoenmakers, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than December 12, 2022 via the
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  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: December 12, 2022
  • Tags: Geneeskunde
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