Doctoral Program Brain and Behavioral Sciences


Alina Scheidegger

Identifying and analyzing somatic, psychological and social aspects of functional disorders

What is your research about?

The Department of Psychosomatic Medicine at the Department of Neurology of the Inselspital specializes in treating physical complaints caused, aggravated, or maintained by psychological or psychosocial factors. Mainly patients with chronic pain are treated, as well as a smaller number of patients with functional neurological disorders and eating disorders. Patients suffering from functional or eating disorders can complete a 3-week multimodal inpatient treatment program. As part of quality assurance, patients are interviewed at the beginning and end of treatment and three months after treatment using various questionnaire instruments. This psychometric assessment is part of the clinical routine and serves the diagnostic clarification and personalized treatment planning as well as the differentiated evaluation of the treatment success according to international guidelines.

If patients agree, this data can be further used for research purposes. In my Ph.D., I focus on identifying and analyzing somatic, psychological, and social aspects of functional disorders. The study of these characteristics and patterns of characteristics contributes to a better understanding of the mechanisms and processes of development, maintenance, and progression of functional disorders. Moreover, I try to shed some light on how these factors are related to different dimensions of treatment success. Therefore, my research is about identifying and describing predictors of treatment success.


Why did you choose to do your Ph.D.? What is your motivation?

During my studies at the University of Bern, I gained various insights into research through assistant jobs. I really enjoyed the work, and it was particularly appealing to me to familiarize myself with a research field and conduct research. I was particularly interested in interfaces between the university and clinics, which is why I chose the position at the Inselspital. I am especially motivated to find out what needs to be changed so that patients can get better and experience more quality of life.


Do you have any advice for future Ph.D. students?

I advise future Ph.D. students to take the plunge and not be put off by critical voices. A doctorate is a very good opportunity to pursue one's interests, learn and improve a lot about one's way of working. I can recommend a doctorate to anyone who is interested in a research field, is not averse to statistics, and wants to deal with a topic over a longer period of time. I feel that choosing the right team and supervisor are equally important. Try to get to know your work environment and think about whom you would like to work with.