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Francisca Vargas Lopes

PhD Candidate
Francisca Vargas Lopes

Research group

Social Epidemiology
Francisca Vargas Lopes

I am Ph.D. Candidate at the Erasmus University Rotterdam – Erasmus MC, in the interdisciplinary research programme Smarter Choices for Better Health. My work brings together the fields of health economics and public health and I have joint supervision from the Department of Public Health of Erasmus MC and the Department of Applied Economics of the Erasmus School of Economics. My research applies quasi-experimental methods to evaluate policies with a causal lense, in line with methodologies of impact evaluation. I use large administrative datasets to retrospectively identify differential effects of health care programs and reforms by socioeconomic status. With my research I aim to support evidence-based policy making through a better understanding of how health policy can (unintendedly) contribute to health care and health inequalities in the population. I study the topics of mental health care, long-term care, health insurance coverage and cost-sharing.

As part of my extracurricular activities I am a member of the Board of the Portuguese Association for Health Economics, where I am also a representant of the Early Career Committee; and I am part of the Junior Committee of the initiative Smarter Choices for Better Health.

In 2017 I have completed a MSc in International Health Policy and Health Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). While in London I have been a research assistant to the Social Policy and the Psychological and Behavioural Science departments of LSE and  had academic placements at the health care focused think-thank Nuffield Trust and at the Health Value for Money team of the National Audit Office.

As part of my working experience I held roles of Outcomes Consultant and Outcomes Research Manager, respectively in UK and Portuguese subsidiaries of multinational pharmaceutical industries. I have also spent time as an analyst and consultant at the Centre for Evidence-based Medicine of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon. I have graduated as a Pharmacist (M.Pharm) from the Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Lisbon in 2013.

CV Curriculum Vitae

Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam
Internal post address Na-2401
P.O. Box 2040
3000 CA Rotterdam

Visitor address:

Erasmus MC
Building NA-23
Dr. Molewaterplein 40
3015 GD Rotterdam

  • Work in Progress

“Patient cost-sharing, mental health care and inequalities: a population-based natural experiment at the transition to adulthood”, first author, joint with Carlos J Riumallo Herl, Johan P Mackenbach and Tom Van Ourti (submitted)

“From inequality to inequity: socioeconomic gradients in access to mental health care in the Netherlands”, first author, joint with Carlos J Riumallo Herl, Tom Van Ourti, Johan P Mackenbach, Bastian Ravestjein

“Impact of supported housing on health and labour outcomes of mental ill patients” , first author, joint with Tom Van Ourti, Sam Harper, Bastian Ravestjein and Pieter Bakx

“Identifying smarter policies during the COVID-19 crisis to reduce health inequities in Rotterdam”, joint with Famke Molenberg, Eline de Jong, Marielle Beenackers, Joost Oude Groeniger, Wilma Jansen and Frank Van Lenthe

”Medicaid expansion and the mechanics of increased access to organ transplant”, joint with Sara Machado

“Does the presence of a psychologist in the primary care reduce the anti-depressive therapy? Evidence from Portugal”, joint with Joana Pestana

”Opening up to death? A Discrete Choice Experiment on COVID-19” , joint with Luís Filipe, Eduardo Costa, João Vasco Santos, Sara Almeida and Joana Gomes da Costa

  • Referee/reviewer

European Journal of Health Economics (2021)

Health Policy (2020)

  • Grants

Erasmus Trustfonds call for corona related research (granted) –  main applicant Famke Molenberg (see more about the project in Output – Societal impact)

Evaluation of municipal health insurance for low socioeconomic status individuals, City of Rotterdam (granted)

  • Teaching assistant on courses from Netherlands Institute for Health Sciences (NIHES) courses

– Public Health Research: Intervention Development and Evaluation, November 2020

– Methods of Health services Research, August 2020

  • Invited speaker at Erasmus Value Based HealthCare Summer course, on the topic Inequity in health(care)
  • Associations and other positions
• Twitter editor, Department of Public Health official account, Erasmus MC
• Junior Committee, Erasmus Initiative Smarter Choices for Better Health
•  Portuguese Association for Health Economics (APES)
Member of the Board (2021-2022) Secretary of General Assembly (2019-2020), Early Career Committee APES – EuHEA (2020-2022), Editor of Newsletter APES (2018-2021)
  • Organization of Events
• Organizer of Smarter Choices for Better Health  Workshop “How to translate research findings into societal impact” (2020, online)
• Organizer of Pre-Workshop Course APES “Behavioral Experiments in Health” (2020, online)
• Organizer/moderator of the Virtual Early Career Seminar Series (VECR), joint organization of APES and  Asociación de Economia de la Salud (2020, online)
• Local Organizing Committee of the 6th EuHEA PhD-Supervisor Conference (2019, Porto, Portugal)


Publications list

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  • Projects with societal impact
  • Identifying smarter policies during the COVID-19 crisis to reduce health inequities in Rotterdam

This short-term project (January – July 2021) was funded by theErasmus Trustfonds through a special call for social economic research on the effect of the COVID 19 pandemic. The project ishighly policy focused and has the main objectve of informing local policy-makers am about the equity effects of COVID-19 relatedpolicies in Rotterdam. We provide insight on which policies mighthave widened inequities; what are potential (unintended) distributional effects of mitigation measures implemented and whatare the domains that need monitoring and/or further mitigation.

The project is jointly let by Famke Molenberg and I and is part of CEPHIR academic workplace. It takes a pragmatic and policy-focused approach created through the collaboration with a panel of local policy makers, whom we consulted during the project.

  • Concerns and Adjustments – How the Portuguese population met COVID-19
Survey conducted in collaboration with members of the Health Economics & Management Knowledge Center of Nova SBE to evaluate the perceptions and concerns of Portuguese population regarding social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our survey was launched early in March and it was first of its type in Portugal. It included 5 waves and had the objective of providing real-time information to characterize how the Portuguese population was perceiving and reacting to the pandemic and supporting decision-making in public policy. Results were featured in several media outlets including weekly dissemination by one of the most relevant news magazines in Portugal (Visão); and were also used by other researchers in reports.

Media coverage in Portuguese: Diário de Notícias; Visão April 5  April 13  April 19  April 26 May 3  May 10  May 17  May 24  June 2  June 7 June 14

COVID-19, sistemas de saúde e desigualdades

Blogpost for APES COVID-19 series about inequalities in the COVID crisis (April 2020, in Portuguese)

Cuidados a longo prazo – de onde vimos, e para onde pretendemos ir?

Opinion piece for Netfarma on the challenges and weaknesses of long-term care in Portugal (July 2020, in Portuguese)