Potentially Preventable Hospitalisations (PPH) in Tasmania: who, why and where?

Degree type


Closing date

29 October 2021



Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

Many health conditions can be effectively managed and treated in primary and community health care. If this care is unavailable or not accessed, individuals may require hospital care that was avoidable. Such hospital admissions are referred to as Potentially Preventable Hospitalisations (PPHs), and are used as a proxy measure of the effectiveness of primary and community health care. Twenty-two health conditions have been identified by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care as PPHs.

In 2017/18, PPHs accounted for 1 in 15 hospital admissions and 1 in 10 hospital bed days nationally. For Tasmania, in 2016/17, there were 13,889 admissions and 52,469 bed days. PPHs can be reduced by improving access and availability of primary care and community health care services. In turn, reducing the number of PPHs would reduce the impact on Tasmanian public hospitals in relation to bed block and ambulance ramping  and will  provide better health outcomes for patients.

The aims of this study are to:

  • Characterise PPHs in Tasmania: age, gender, key diagnoses, geographical locations, patients with multiple PPH diagnoses, length of stay
  • Estimate the annual costs of PPH to the Tasmanian Health System
  • Geographically map areas of highest PPH rates and primary care/community health services to identify potential priority areas to improve early intervention/disease management
  • Work with stakeholders (patients, service providers, policy makers) to understand contextual issues relating to PPHs and to develop a strategic plan to reduce the number of PPHs.

The proposed PhD project will use linked data from the Tasmanian Admitted Patients Dataset and Emergency Department Dataset, along with National Health Services Directory. For aim 4, focus groups and 1:1  semi-structured interviews will be conducted. Please note part of this project is currently under review with the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation (Project Grant, $25,000). This funding will be used to support a postdoctoral fellow who will drive project development in year 1. If this funding application is unsuccessful, the project will still go ahead, with the primary supervisor taking on a more active role in project development activities.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Barbara de Graaff


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from international applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements and the following additional eligibility criteria specific to this project:

  • Applications are open to Domestic applicants only, preferably with a background in public health, health services, or health economics/economics

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Barbara de Graaff, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including contact details of two referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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