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

27 March 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.


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

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

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, AProf Melanie Greenwood to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. 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 2 x 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 by the advertised outcome date.

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