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Supporting return-to-work and stay-at-work for people with mental health problems: a mixed methods study

   Management School

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  Prof K Nielsen, Dr Cristian Vasquez, Dr Susan Peters  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Project description

Poor mental health resulting in long-term sick leave is an increasing problem and is costly to individuals, their families, the organizations they are employed in, and society as a whole. The aim of the PhD project is to understand how working conditions, organizational policies, programs, and practices support (or hinder) return to work (for workers who have had time off work to recover) and stay-at-work for workers with mental health problems. 

The project will build on an existing collaboration with a large healthcare organization, based in the Boston area and will consist of two parts. The first part of the project will use longitudinal survey data and administrative data from the healthcare organization to develop our understanding of the relationship between working conditions and other organizational contextual mechanisms and their role in supporting mental health stay-at-work and return-to-work for those who have had a mental-health-related work absence.

In the second part of the project, the aim is to develop a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the complex nature of stay-to-work and return-to-work for healthcare workers with mental health problems. Using a subsample of workers identified as having been on sick leave through company records, interviews will be conducted to understand topics such as decision making around return-to-work, experiences of return-to-work and stay at work, stigma, and supportive conditions facilitating a sustained outcome. 

Key skills required are knowledge of qualitative methods and advanced knowledge of quantitative research methods and experience of work psychology.

International collaborator(s)

The successful candidate is offered a unique opportunity to work on a fully funded PhD project in collaboration with Harvard University, the Center for Work, Health and Well-being, one of ten US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health® and Sheffield University Management School. 

The PhD student will gain experience conducting statistical analyses using an existing dataset and conduct all phases of a qualitative study (recruitment, data collection and interview techniques, qualitative analytic methods, and analyses, as well as using theoretical framework for mixed methods approaches) collaboratively with the Harvard Center’s team and Sheffield.

This proposed study will use a mixed methods design and be part of an existing collaboration (since 2007) between the Harvard Center and a large Boston-based healthcare organization. 

During the duration of the project, the successful candidate will spend up to 12 months at Harvard University. The candidate will be part of the Harvard PhD community along with the Center’s own students. They will participate in the Center’s activities, have access to the existing quantitative data sets administrative data, and be supported for fieldwork for the qualitative part of the study. 

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