Sepsis in the older person in Tasmania

The incidence and impact of sepsis in people over 65 years of age in Tasmania

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

Sepsis is more significant in people over 65 years old, particularly those with chronic health issues. Those over 65 years are 13 times more likely to be hospitalised with sepsis than younger people, with aged care residents over 6 times more likely to present with sepsis to an emergency department (Martin-Loeches 2019, Burkett et al. 2018). Sepsis is a medical emergency requiring rapid identification and intervention to limit adverse outcomes as the risk of death increases for every hour delayed treatment. Sepsis survival can be life changing with increased morbidity, or moderate to severe cognitive impairment (Martin-Leoches et al 2019). Caregivers are also impacted (ACQSHC 2021), as the concern for a person deteriorating with acute illness can result in depression and altered quality of life for the caregiver.

Sepsis identification in the older person can be challenging due to fewer clinical signs being displayed and may present as increased falls or reduced mobility (Burkett et al. 2018). Age, severity of disease and frailty are important independent risk factors for mortality (Lelyveld-Haas et al. 2022). The key to thwarting sepsis is to prevent infection occurring in the first place by simple measures such as sepsis awareness through ongoing education, the importance of hand hygiene, improved vaccination adherence, attention to nutrition and acting quickly if infection occurs. A mixed methods retrospective cohort study of people over the age of 65 from aged care facilities who presented to Tasmanian emergency or intensive care departments is planned to identify the occurrence and longer term impact of sepsis. Baseline demographics and predisposition, septic event, hospital outcomes and discharge disposition and 12-month mortality, plus interviews with sepsis survivors to identify health related quality of life will be collected. The study should result in translation of findings into practice in aged or acute care facilities.

Primary Supervisor

Meet AProf Melanie Greenwood


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 $31,500 per annum (2023 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.

Other funding opportunities and fees

For further information regarding other scholarships on offer, and the various fees of undertaking a research degree, please visit our Scholarships and fees on research degrees page.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Ensure your eligibility for the scholarship round by referring to our Key Dates.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applications are open to domestic applicants only

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.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Experience in acute care or caring for older people

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • The applicant is a Registered Nurse

Application process

  1. Select your project, and check that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria, including citizenship;
  2. Contact AProf Melanie Greenwood to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. In your application:
    • 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.
    • Submit a signed supervisory support form, a CV including contact details of 2 referees and your project research proposal.
  4. Apply prior to 25 September 2023.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

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

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