Principal Investigator

Sofia C. Zambrano, PhD
(©Cocoeur Photography)

Sofia Zambrano is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM) at the University of Bern funded via an SNSF Eccellenza Professorial Fellowship. Her research interests lie predominantly in understanding the attitudes, experiences, and emotions of health professionals and medical students when dealing with difficult decisions, particularly when treating patients with advanced diseases and in the end-of-life context. Prof. Zambrano’s Eccellenza Fellowship aims to deepen the understanding of how physician emotions can be best integrated in the practice of medicine, not only to improve physicians’ wellbeing, but also patient care.

In addition to the Eccellenza funding, Prof. Zambrano has received grants as a Principal Investigator from the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences (SAMW) to study Swiss junior physicians’ moral distress and from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) to study physicians’ uncertainty in decision making. She has also received funding as a co-applicant from the Swiss Cancer League to study communication about imminent death, and from the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health to study bereaved caregivers’ needs.

She obtained her PhD from The University of Adelaide in 2012 and her dissertation on how physicians experience the death of their patients was awarded the Dean’s Commendation for Research Excellence.  Trained as a psychologist at the Universidad de los Andes in Colombia, she has had experience counselling patients and their families in the palliative care setting in Colombia and in Australia.  She has also taught and mentored health professionals in Australia and Switzerland at the undergraduate and postgraduate level in topics such as self-care, self-awareness, communication, and professional grief.

PhD candidates

Three PhD candidates with a background in Health Sciences support the different sub-projects within the larger Eccellenza project.

Robert Staeck

Robert is working in the INSPIRE study and in the study of public expectations. His main focus within these projects is on understanding the role of emotions and the inner-life of physicians in end-of-life communication. His research interests include the interface between psychology and medicine encompassing doctors’ and patients’ perception of care.

He obtained his master’s degree in Psychology at the University of Zurich in 2020 and wrote his master’s thesis at the chair of Clinical Psychology with a focus on Psychotherapy Research.

Katrien Moens

The focus of Katrien’s PhD is on understanding how health care professionals who work with patients at the end of life integrate their emotions into clinical practice. Her project consists of a mixed method analysis.

Katrien obtained her master’s degree in Nursing Sciences at the VUB, Brussels in 2007. She has worked at different Belgian institutions, including Federation Palliative Care Flanders, KU Leuven, and Sciensano. She was also awarded a Marie Curie Research Training Fellowship to work at the Cicely Saunders Institute at King’s College London within the EuroImpact project.

Anna Lange

Anna is conducting research about the place of emotions in medical education. This mixed methods study has a national and international focus with the aim to shed light on the extent to which physician emotions and processes such as self-awarenes and self-reflection are addressed in medical curricula.

Anna completed her master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy at the University of Bern in 2022. Based on a thematic analysis, her thesis addressed the topic of Health Care Workers’ experiences with a blended intervention on acute psychiatric inpatient wards.