Methodological aspects of research and societal outreach in public health and primary care


Research and Valorization

Target group

PhD candidates (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Sciences, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Faculty of Political and Social Sciences)

Organizing Committee

Prof. Ann Van Hecke (Public Health and Primary care)

Prof. Stefaan De Henauw  (Public Health and Primary care)

Laurence Hendrickx  (Public Health and Primary care)


In this course, PhD students will learn to look at the broader methodological and societal context in which their research project takes place: they will learn to look for connections with other disciplines, to apply participatory research and other qualitative research methods, complex adaptive systems, to be involved in research projects from colleagues from other research domains (but always related to public health and primary care), but also how to reach out to and involve different categories of societal stakeholders in their research, and how to translate their research results to a broader public, with special emphasis on the framework of evidence informed policy making and how to interact with policy makers at different levels.


PhD students will learn to take other disciplines and other stakeholders (more) into account in all aspects of and at all times in the trajectory of their research: from the design phase, in co-creating the research project together with researchers from other disciplines and with societal stakeholders, during implementation, through regular revision of project design, data collection and analysis methods, not only with supervisors but also with peers, till disseminating the research results to the general public, policy makers, fellow researchers and civil society organizations.  


In order to complete the transferable skills course, students require a total of 6 contact hours, from the following list of activities:  

Procedure for submitting your research proposal to the Ethics Committee

Many PhD students are not familiar with the correct procedure to be followed when submitting a research proposal to the Ethics Committee. Sara De Smet and Gertjan De Kezel from the UZ Gent Ethics Committee will present the procedure to be followed, based on a number of concrete cases, and answer questions from students.

  • Date: 3/10/23, 12:00-13:30
  • Location: Leslokaal 5.2, B3, Campus UZ Gent
  • Click here to register

How to find your way in the political structures and decision making processes involved in health policy making

Belgium has an extremely complex political system. The first step in the process of the translation of  research into policy making, is to identify the right person to reach out to. In this seminar, Prof. Tom Goffin will provide the knowledge around the competencies of the Ministers involved at the different levels (regional, federal) and understand the organization of the health care system in Belgium.

  • Date: 7/11/23, 11:00-12:30
  • Location: Aud C, Campus UZ
  • Click here to register

PhD café

In a PhD café, PhD students get an opportunity to present their research to their peers (other PhD students but also postdocs and ZAP) in an informal setting. The aim is to improve presentation skills, while at the same time getting feedback on their research itself, from colleagues from the same and different disciplines. Students can participate in the PhD café by giving a presentation, ranging from an elevator pitch to a 10-minute presentation, or by giving tips to their colleagues, and interacting with the presenters (option to be indicated when registering). Those wishing to present will be requested to provide an abstract of maximum 300 words.

  • Date: 5/12/23, 12:00-13:30
  • Location: AUD I, Campus UZ
  • Click here to register

Research methodology: How to Make Decisions in Complex Health Systems Research - The Usefulness of Multi-Criteria Decision Support

Prof. Keune and Prof. Springael (University of Antwerp) will first give an introduction to Multi-Criteria Decision Support (MCDS), which will provide you with an understanding of the utility and characteristics of MCDS in navigating complex health systems research. You will learn how to address the challenges and opportunities that arise when dealing with diverse information, opinions, actor perspectives, and decision-making criteria. They then will share insights from their extensive collaboration and experiences in applying MCDS in various environmental health contexts, by exploring key methodological choices that shape MCDS, including diversity tolerance, handling uncertainty and differences of opinion, and addressing the epistemological divide, and showing you that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to complex issues; instead, methods are chosen and tailored based on practical considerations.

  • Date: 9/01/24, 12:00-13:30
  • Speaker: Prof. Hans Keune: Political scientist, Ph.D. in environmental sciences, coordinates the Chair Care and the Natural Living Environment (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Antwerp), with extensive expertise in critical complexity, inter- and transdisciplinarity, action-research, expert elicitation, and decision support within the realms of environment, nature, and health & Prof. Johan Springael: expert with a long track record at the Department of Engineering Management (Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Antwerp), specializes in operations research and decision support systems, including Multi-Criteria Decision Support (MCDS).
  • Location: Aud E, Campus UZ
  • Click here to register

Research integrity & data - Data custodianship and the role of the researcher

Researchers work with data. Data about phenomena, data about evolutions and often data about individuals. You may be collecting data directly from research participants; perhaps you are collecting data from existing data sets, and the identity of the research participants is trivial to you. You may be adopting hypothesis-driven methodologies, or you may be exploring a discovery-driven method. You may be working with data collected in a trial setting; perhaps you are working with data already collected in the real world. In every situation, you are the custodian of the data whilst they are used for your research. You will need to acknowledge the regulatory framework that applies to data. This session focuses on the regulatory and policy requirements for working with data in a research context. We explain your responsibility as custodian of the dataset you are working with. We train your skills to distinguish personal data from non-personal data. And last but not least, we zoom in on particular requirements for using big data.

  • Date: 8/02/24, 12:00-13:30
  • Speaker: Prof. Griet Verhenneman, Assistant Professor, Institute for International Research on Criminal Policy & METAMEDICA platform, Faculty of Law and Criminology, Ghent University
  • Location: Aud C, Campus UZ
  • Click here to register 

What do academics have to offer to health policy making?

Sound health policy making necessitates an evidence base to ensure effectiveness. But too often scientists and politicians speak a different language, making effective collaboration difficult. This leads to misunderstanding and even mistrust. In this workshop, Ms. Emilie Peeters, coordinator of the Academic Network on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights  Policy (ANSER) network will focus on why it is so important to recognize that both politicians and academics have a different but equally important role to play and that collaboration between all stakeholders is crucial to move effectively from evidence to policy and ensure impact.

  • Date: 7/03/24, 12:00-13:30
  • Location: Aud C, Campus UZ
  • Click here to register

Disparities in access to preventive healthcare across migrant backgrounds

An expanding body of research documents inequalities in access to and quality of healthcare between individuals with and without a migrant background in developed countries. This seminar will discuss mechanisms underlying these disparities with a focus on cancer prevention. Prof. Sara Macdonald (School of Health & Wellbeing, University of Glasgow) will provide the keynote, after which a discussion will take place.

  • Date: 15/04/24, 12:00-13:30
  • Location: Meeting room 6.1, Campus UZ
  • Click here to register

Translation from research results: popular scientific writing, production of policy briefs and podcasts to reach the general public

All PhD students are already required to produce a PhD leaflet in a language that is accessible for a broader public. In this interactive workshop, you will learn how to write a popular summary of your research. Those students that are interested to go a step further, can be supported to produce either a policy brief or a podcast episode.

  • Tentative date: 7/05/24, 12:00-13:30
  • Location: Aud E, Campus UZ
  • Click here to register

Being a scientist in public space: how to share your expertise?

What is the importance of reaching out to society from your position as a researcher? And in which way can you intervene in the public space? What can you do, and what should you not do?  In this workshop, Prof. Ignaas Devisch will teach you how you can share your expertise, how you should adapt your message to your public, and offer practical do’s and don’ts.

  • Date: 4/06/24, 16:30-18:00
  • Location: Zaal De Blauwe Vogel, De Krook
  • Click here to register

    Registration fee

    Free of charge for members of the Doctoral Schools of Ghent University. The no show policy applies.



    Evaluation criteria (doctoral training programme)

    Attendance of minimum of 3 activities with active participation + writing a reflection document on all activities

    After successful participation, the Doctoral Schools will add this course to your curriculum of the Doctoral Training Programme in Oasis. Please note that this takes up to one to two months after completion of the course.