PhD Position in Public Trust in National Electronic Health Records in Switzerland and Neighbouring Countries

University of Zurich


Digital Society Initiative

PhD Student Position in Public Trust in National Electronic Health Records in Switzerland and Neighbouring Countries

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We invite you to apply for a four-year full-time PhD position at the intersection of digital health and public health. As a PhD student you will contribute to the research project «Data handling, security and protection: reaching conceptual equivalence for the concept of public trust in national electronic health records in Switzerland and neighbouring countries» funded by the "Digitalisierungsinitiative der Zürcher Hochschulen" (DIZH). The DIZH aims to promote cooperation between Zurich's higher education institutions in the field of digitalization and thus to strengthen Zurich as a center of research and business. You will be supervised by Felix Gille, PhD (Digital Society Initiative, University of Zurich) and Prof. Viktor von Wyl (Institute for Implementation Science in Health Care, University of Zurich).

About the project

Public trust in data handling, security, and protection is fundamental to the success of data driven healthcare system activities, such as the introduction of national electronic health records (NEHR). Unfortunately, there exists little conceptual clarity of what public trust in NEHRs within respective healthcare systems is. One of the main motivations to care about public trust is that, if there is no public trust in healthcare system actors and their activities, these actors lack public legitimacy to act and the public does not take part in healthcare system activities. Considering national political interests, cross-border healthcare and international health data transfer more broadly, a precise conceptual understanding of public trust is necessary to inform efforts to implement NEHRs. The aim of the project is to develop the concept of public trust in NEHRs with the same meaning for Switzerland and neighbouring countries. This will inform health governance and health policy making to increase public trust in NEHRs and health data use in general. To meet the aim, you will mainly conduct qualitative research and framework analyses.

Your responsibilities

As a PhD student you will in a team
  • conduct qualitative studies in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France and Italy.
  • conduct a framework analysis of national and European legislation that applies to health data use.
  • analyze qualitative and quantitative data, publish research findings.
  • contribute to course development and teaching.
  • support outreach activities that target the public.
  • support preparation of research proposals to national and international funding agencies.

You will follow the structured PhD program in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, which is a PhD program of the Life Science Zurich Graduate School. The PhD study usually takes 3 to 4 years to complete. You are expected to take some quantitative methods courses (e.g. epidemiology) in addition to more specialized courses that fit the focus of the project.

Your profile

You are a creative, conceptual thinking and pragmatic team member with
  • a Master degree in public health, politics, philosophy of science, law or an equivalent university study that you believe fits the project;
  • good qualitative research skills both in data collection and analysis;
  • strong interest in cross-cultural research;
  • strong interest in public health, governance, law and trust theory;
  • enthusiasm for research, proactive mindset, reliability and commitment;
  • excellent command of English and French or Italian (written and spoken); knowledge of Italian/French and German or willingness to learn Italian/French and German are desirable since the project involves collaboration with citizens in the local language.

We offer

  • an excellent opportunity to develop academic qualifications and gain credentials and experience in the inter-disciplinary field of digitalization and public health;
  • a team of young and highly motivated colleagues who are passionate about research;
  • strong support for your personal development and career planning;
  • an attractive work environment: the University of Zurich is one of Switzerland's leading universities in the middle of a vibrant, cosmopolitan city that regularly ranks as one of the cities with the highest quality of life in the world;
  • a highly successful PhD program with graduates at top-rated institutions worldwide;
  • opportunity to grow within Life Science Zurich Graduate School as the position will be part of the EpiBiostats Program;
  • links to the Swiss School of Public Health.
Pay rates for PhD candidates are based on the standards set by SNSF.

Place of work

Digital Society Initiative
Rämistrasse 69, 8001 Zurich, Switzerland
Institute for Implementation Science in Health Care
Universitätstrasse 84, 8006 Zurich, Switzerland

Start of employment

Please submit your application by 01.07.2021 via the link to the online application tool only. The position will start in autumn 2021. Make sure to select the PhD Program in Epidemiology & Biostatistics as primary program interest. Please submit your application containing your CV, transcripts and a short letter of motivation (max. 2 pages A4). We encourage applications from women and ethnic minorities.

Further information

Job position: Dr. Felix Gille
PhD program: Dr. Sarah Ziegler

Apply now

In your application, please refer to


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