PhD Student Position: Legal and psychological studies into elder abuse in the Netherlands

Maastricht University
December 15, 2022
Offerd Salary:€ 2.960
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Fixed-term contract:
Working Time:Full time
Working type:N/A
Job Ref.:N/A
Job description

Do you have a strong interest in conducting research at the intersection of criminal law and psychology? We are looking for a candidate who will examine the topic of elder abuse from both a legal and psychological perspective.

On 15 June 2022, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners published “Tackling abuse of older people: five priorities for the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021–2030)”. The WHO has set five priorities for the Decade of Healthy Ageing to prevent and respond to abuse of older people. The Netherlands is no exception to the global problem of elder abuse. A recent interview study conducted by Regioplan (completed in Rotterdam, Tilburg and Boxtel) concluded that one in 20 (5%) elderly people (defined as 65 and above) living independently reported having been abused. The most frequently reported type of abuse was financial abuse, followed by psychological and physical abuse (Bakker et al., 2018). However, there appear to be no Dutch prevalence data on elder abuse in long- term care facilities, such as nursing homes. This is a serious omission, because recent meta-analytic studies show that prevalence rates are higher in institutional compared to community settings (Yon et al., 2018).

In recent years, the Dutch government has invested in raising awareness about domestic abuse and increased preventive efforts, including elder abuse. There is a Reporting Code (in Dutch: Meldcode) on Domestic Abuse, with legally binding guidelines for professionals who are concerned about domestic abuse in a case. Obviously, raising awareness and a Reporting Code are necessary but not sufficient conditions to stop elder abuse. Comijs et al. (1998) conducted a follow-up study of their victims after one year and found that roughly 40% of them were still being abused.

What are you going to do?

This PhD project will consist of four interrelated studies that align nicely with some of the WHO priorities: (1) Prevalence study of elder abuse in the Netherlands, both in the community and in institutions; (2) Experiences of victims of elder abuse; (3) Risk and protective factors for elder abuse; and (4) Elder abuse in criminal law. There is also opportunity to design additional studies.

The project will require intensive collaboration with societal partners, such as Safe Home (Veilig Thuis), the Public Prosecutor's Office (Openbaar Ministerie) and the courts.

In addition to the PhD project you will also be involved in education for 10-20% of your contract. The exact courses that you will be teaching will be decided upon later.


  • A Master degree in Psychology and/or Law, with evidence of specific interest in and/or knowledge of Legal/Forensic Psychology
  • Research experience in the area of psychology and/or law
  • Strong statistical skills
  • Fluent in Dutch and English
  • Excellent academic writing and presentation skills
  • Strong social and communicative skills
  • ,

    Conditions of employment

    Fixed-term contract: Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

    We offer a 1.0 fte contract for a period of 4 years, starting preferably as per 1 March 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter. Continuation after the first year is dependent upon a positive evaluation.

    The full-time gross monthly salary amounts to € 2.960,00 in the first year according to salary scale PhD (‘promovendus'), increasing to € 3.122,00 in the fourth year; on top of this there will be an 8% holiday and an 8,3% year- end allowance.

    You have to be willing to move to (the vicinity of) Maastricht. If you do not already live in Maastricht (or its direct surroundings), you will be eligible for an allowance for moving costs. If you do not already live in Maastricht (or its direct surroundings), you might be eligible for an allowance for alternative housing. Other secondary conditions include a pension scheme and partially paid parental leave.

    The terms of employment of Maastricht University are set out in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO). Furthermore, local UM provisions also apply. For more information look at the website www. > About UM > Working at UM.


    Employer Maastricht University

    Maastricht University is renowned for its unique, innovative, problem-based learning system, which is characterized by a small-scale and student-oriented approach. Research at UM is characterized by a multidisciplinary and thematic approach, and is concentrated in research institutes and schools. Maastricht University has around 22,000 students and about 5,000 employees. Reflecting the university's strong international profile, a fair amount of both students and staff are from abroad. The university hosts 6 faculties: Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Faculty of Law, School of Business and Economics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience. For more information, visit www.


    Department Department of Criminal Law and Criminology

    The project will be supervised by academic staff from both the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience but you will formally be stationed at the department of Criminal Law and Criminology (Faculty of Law). The department of Criminal Law and Criminology offers, inter alia, courses in the field of criminal law and criminal procedure, as part of our LL.B. and LL.M. programmes. Members of the department analyse crime, criminal law and criminal procedure from an interdisciplinary and legal perspective. The department is embedded in the Faculty of Law that offers an international classroom with students from over 20 different nationalities. The members of the department are also liaised with the MICS-research program (Maastricht Institute for Criminal Sciences - Research - Maastricht University).


    Additional information

    For more information on this vacancy please contact:

    prof. Suzan van der Aa:;

    prof. Corine de Ruiter:;


    prof. Henry Otgaar:

    To apply at this vacancy, press the button ‘apply now' to see the application procedure.

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