Health and Demographic Research

slogan HederA

About us

Hedera (Health and Demographic Research) stands for expertise within the fields of Health Sociology and Social Demography and carries out theory-driven empirical research on the following themes:

  1. Ethnic diversity: on the challenges and opportunities that ethnic diversity brings to our contemporary society, for instance, to its health care systems;
  2. Gender and the life course: on gender differences in health and determinants of health and how these unfold throughout the life course;
  3. Mental health, stigmatisation and medicalisation: on persons with mental health problems, the social conditions that contribute to their stigmatisation and destigmatisation and the medicalisation of mental health problems;
  4. Population health and social change: on transformations in social institutions as fundamental causes of population health in Europe.

 Our research group has wide-ranging expertise in:

  • advanced quantitative data collection methods (e.g., video vignette studies, school surveys) and analytical techniques for the social sciences (e.g., multilevel modelling, longitudinal analysis, Hierarchical APC modelling)
  • advanced qualitative data collection methods (e.g., in-depth interviews, focus groups, (participant) observation, (n)ethnography, Delphi panel) and analytical techniques (e.g., thematic analysis, different strands of discourse analysis, narrative analysis, situational and frame analysis)

We increasingly pursue mixed-methods research.


Bart Van de Putte


Piet Bracke


Melissa Ceuterick

Postdoc researcher

Rizwan Abbas

PhD Researcher

Vincent De Prez

PhD researcher

Heather Johnson

PhD researcher

Karen Vanderlinden

PhD researcher

Katrijn Delaruelle

Postdoc researcher

Lisa Colman

PhD researcher

Marlies Bockstal

Volunteer researcher

Rubeena Slamat

PhD researcher

Sam Gorleer

PhD researcher

Siyuan Chen

PhD researcher

Esther Lermytte

PhD researcher

Sarah Devos

PhD researcher

Shuangshuang Liu

PhD researcher

Camille Wets

PhD Researcher

Hilde Depauw

PhD researcher

Fien Geenen

PhD researcher

Cynthia Mariela Parraga Lima

PhD researcher

Walaa Ammar Shehada

PhD researcher

Angel Zapata Moya

Voluntary member

Maité Van Alboom

PhD researcher

Emiel De Meyer

PhD researcher

Elif Lootens

PhD researcher


Lies Saelens

PhD researcher

Camille Duveau

PhD researcher



Ongoing projects



BENZOCARE (English/Dutch)


VAX-TRUST (English/Dutch)


RED NOSE: STIGMA (English/Dutch)



Past projects

  • Divorce and separation in Flanders I: Risk factors, consequences and policy implications (SBO-IWT, in collaboration with Prof. Dimitri Mortelmans (University of Antwerp, PI), Prof. Koen Matthijs (KU Leuven) & Prof. Jan Van Bavel (KU Leuven), 2007-2010)
  • Divorce and separation in Flanders II: An analysis of risk and enabling factors, consequences and policy implications (SBO-IWT, in collaboration with Prof. Dimitri Mortelmans (University of Antwerp, PI), Prof. Koen Matthijs (KU Leuven) & Prof. Jan Van Bavel (KU Leuven), 2010-2013)
  • Relationships in a post-divorce era and the subjective wellbeing of women and men: a social relational perspective (funded by FWO, 2012-2015)
  • Bing Research Project 1: Onderzoek naar de kwaliteit van de bewonersmonitor als meetinstrument om de algemene tevredenheid van de bewoners in woon- en zorgcentra in Vlaanderen te evalueren (2013-2014)
  • Bing Research Project 2: Onderzoek naar de kwaliteit van de medewerkersmonitor als meetinstrument om de algemene tevredenheid van medewerkers in woon- en zorgcentra in Vlaanderen te evalueren (2014-2015)
  • Bing Research Project 3: Ontwikkeling van de vernieuwde versie van de medewerkersmonitor & integratie van de schatting van psychosociale risico’s in de medewerkersmonitor (2014-2015)
  • (De)constructing health news: A transdisciplinary investigation into news media coverage of elderly-related health issues (GOA, in collaboration with Prof. Daniël Biltereyst, Prof. Thierry Christiaens, Prof. Geert Jacobs & Prof. Karin Raeymaeckers, 2014-2018)
  • Education and mental health in an era of educational expansion (funded by FWO, 2014-2018)
  • Juridische praktijktesten naar discriminatie op de private huurwoningmarkt in Gent: de proactieve fase (funded by Stad Gent, 2017)
  • Blood donation regimes theory revisited: Organizational and institutional determinants of blood donation in a European cross-national and cross-temporal perspective (funded by FWO, in collaboration with Prof. Lesley Hustinx (PI), 2017-2020)
  • Stigma and chronic pain: How does stigma get under the skin? (funded by FWO, in collaboration with Prof. Liesbet Goubert (PI), 2018-2020)
  • Social inequalities in cancer prevention care and fundamental social causes: a comparative study of innovative technologies and (in)effective policies (funded by FWO & SNFS Lead Agency, in collaboration with Prof. Claudine Jeangros-Burton, University of Geneva, 2018-2021)
  • Benzonet (funded by BELSPO, 2019-2021)


Master in Sociology (Major Health and Social Demography) :

Hedera is responsible for organizing the Major “Health and Social Demography” in the Master in Sociology. This Major includes the following courses:

  1. Sociology of Health and Illness, which  explains  the fundamental social causes of health and illness. This course focuses on topics such as sickness models, health inequalities, medicalization, and preventive health. In addition, it offers a unique understanding of the institutional and macro-sociological determinants of health.
  2. Migration and Integration, which  provides  a framework of analysis for problems related to migration and integration. Attention is paid to sociological approaches on the micro, meso and macro levels and to topics such as ethnic residential segregation, religious practices, interethnic relations and discrimination.
  3. Seminar on Social Demography and Health Sociology, which  teaches the skills necessary to (a) design, develop and analyse socio-demographic and health sociological research questions (stream 1), or (b) to apply sociological frameworks to the real experience of an organization.

Detailed information on this Major can be found at this page:

Students in the English Master Program in Social Sciences also follow the courses ‘Sociology of Health and Illness’ and ‘Migration and Integration’ as part of their core theoretical courses.

Other courses:

Hedera is also involved in other courses at Ghent university and other universities, including

  1. Health Sociology in the Master of Science in Nursing and Midwifery (Ghent University)
  2. Health Sociology in the Bachelor of Science in Social Sciences (Programme jointly offered by Ghent University and Free University of Brussels)
  3.  Drugs that changed the world I (J000489) in the Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences (Ghent University)
  4. Global Health Challenges in the Master of Science in Global Health (Programme jointly offered by the five Flemish Universities in Belgium: Ghent University, University of Antwerp, Catholic University of Leuven, Free University of Brussels and Hasselt University; detailed information on this Master can be found at this page:

Prospective PhD students and postdocs

Individual fellowship:

PhD students: Master students who would like to apply for a PhD fellowship at Hedera should contact Piet Bracke or Bart Van de Putte during their last year of study. We could support you in seeking funding.

Foreign doctoral candidates with external funding who are interested in one of our main research themes are also invited to join our lively research group.

Postdocs: Hedera gladly welcomes experienced researchers from all over the world. We offer support to excellent postdocs and recent PhD graduates who would like to apply for a Marie Skłodowska Curie (MSCA) fellowship on one of our main research themes. More information on MSCA fellowships at Ghent University can be found at this page:

Academic visitors

Hedera wishes to develop a vibrant research culture through welcoming self-funded academic visitors from all over the world. There is no minimum stay, although it is advisable to come for at least for three months. We will provide you with workspace, IT facilities and support and invite you to participate in our research activities. Prospective visitors should contact Piet Bracke or Bart Van de Putte with a concrete research plan. 


Future vacancies will be published on our Hedera Facebookpage, as well as on the Sociology webpage ( ).


Prof. Dr. Bart Van de Putte
Korte Meer 5, 9000 Gent

Prof. Dr. Piet Bracke
Korte Meer 5, 9000 Ghent