Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

PhD position in personalized cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) treatment for patients with chronic bothersome tinnitus

This job offer has expired

    ESIT: European School on Interdisciplinary Tinnitus Research
    Psychological sciencesBehavioural sciences
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    02/07/2017 00:00 - Europe/Brussels
    Netherlands › Maastricht
    H2020 / Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

“What for whom?” Customized CBT treatment for patients with chronic bothersome tinnitus

Despite the positive reports on the benefits of the cognitive behavioural approaches in tinnitus treatment, there still remains a fairly large group of patients who, even after intensive treatment, suffer from bothersome tinnitus on a daily basis. The role of tinnitus-related cognitions, emotions, and behaviours has been suggested, and treatments have been developed to modifying them.

Cognitive-Behavioral treatment (CBT) is repeatedly found to be beneficial, however, which of the CBT elements is most beneficial for whom, or in what phase of tinnitus suffering, has yet to be established. Future research should focus on dismantling why and how these specific elements interact and contribute to the overall effectiveness in order to fine-tune our current CBT interventions. Second, investigating the processes of change underlying the effects is pressing because these mechanisms are still largely unknown and likely to differ across patient groups, requiring different approaches. Collectively, current findings suggest that erroneous beliefs about tinnitus install a dysfunctional pattern of tinnitus-related fear and avoidance behavior that maintains or exacerbates disability and suffering. However, the research on the role of tinnitus fear-avoidance still is in its infancy, and although existing studies seem to support such a theoretical approach, most of these rely on questionnaire data, leaving questions unanswered about cause-effect relationships. The underlying mechanisms and associative-learning models need to be explored in a more innovative experimental research approach.


In this position you will carry out sequential randomized and replicated single-case experimental phase design with multiple measurements. Compared to inferential procedures from the general linear model framework, randomization tests have the advantage of not making distributional assumptions and of being extremely versatile. In this type of design, each participant is observed repeatedly during a certain period under different levels (baseline vs. treatment) of at least one independent variable. This implies that the participant is exposed to all levels of the independent variable (as in a within-patient design), and that there are repeated measures or observations (as with longitudinal or time series data). Replication is the basis for testing the external validity of single-case experiments. In addition, replicated single-case experiments may be considered as multiple studies that can be combined using meta-analytical procedures. Additionally, within this project you will be extending the widely applied classical learning paradigm for investigating the development of chronic bothersome tinnitus to human subjects. Within the framework of the research group, a new generation of experimental paradigms investigating tinnitus in humans will be initiated. Innovative is the combination of classical learning paradigms within the realm of human tinnitus research, and the use of autonomic measures in the assessment of tinnitus perception.


We offer an exciting project embedded within Maastricht University, Department of clinical psychological science; Section of Behavioral Medicine (BM), who has collaboration with the Research group Health psychology of KU Leuven, Belgium. Conditions of Employment and salary are based on the University conditions. You will receive a fulltime contract (38 hours/week). Your salary will be according to the scale of PhD students, starting at € 2.191,- gross salary per month, with an annual increment.



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 16,000 students and 4,000 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 Humanities and Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience.




The Maastricht University BM-section has extensive expertise in research in behavioural medicine & health psychology, and has successfully conducted experimental, clinical, and treatment studies. The candidate is expected to join the Dutch-Flemish Graduate School ‘Experimental Psychopathology’, which excels in conducting psychopathological research. Cooperation exists nationally and internationally with expert-researchers in experimental and clinical research into psychosomatic chronic disorders.

Eligibility criteria

You are eligible to apply, if you:

  • have already received a Master’s Degree or equivalent
  • have no longer than 4 years of research experience following that degree
  • do not already hold a PhD degree
  • have not worked, studied, or carried out your main activity in France for more than 12 months during the previous 36 months (=mobility rule). For refugees there is an exemption of this rule: The refugee procedure will not be counted as a period of residence/activity in the country of the beneficiary. This period will only be counted as of the day that they are recognised as refugees

Additional comments

Further information may be obtained from Dr. Rilana Cima, by e-mail: r.cima@maastrichtuniversity.nl or Prof. Dr. Johan Vlaeyen, by e-mail Johannes.Vlaeyen@kuleuven.be or j.vlaeyen@maastrichtuniversity.nl.

Please also visit https://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/research/institutes/experimental-psychopathology and http://ppw.kuleuven.be/ogp

Offer Requirements

    ENGLISH: Excellent


We are looking for a candidate with a Master’s degree in experimental psychology, or neuroscience, with affinity and interest in health psychology, associative learning, and cognitive behavioral treatment. We expect you to have passed course(s) in advanced statistics, and have strong methodological reasoning skills. We expect you to have an outstanding GPA (international grading system) of at least 3.5/4 for your Masters degree. Strong interest in cognitive behavioral approaches, experimental design, and experience with SPSS or similar applications are required. You are an excellent and enthusiastic clinical researcher. The enthusiastic candidate that we are looking for works independently, easily collaborates with multiple disciplines and specialists in the field, and is fluent in spoken and written English. Knowledge of the Dutch language is not a requirement, but the candidate must be willing to take language courses if this is required during the project. The University requires work to be published and the writing of a doctoral thesis before awarding a PhD degree. The position involves minimal teaching duties. Please provide two letters of reference with your application.

Work location(s)
1 position(s) available at
Maastricht University

EURAXESS offer ID: 219090