Improving atrial fibrillation management

The dilemma of oral anticoagulant use in patients with atrial fibrillation and dementia

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

This project examines the intersection between several major and growing public health concerns – atrial fibrillation (AF) and dementia with an increasingly ageing population, and the safe use of medicines.

There is considerable ongoing debate and a lack of clarity around the role of anticoagulant therapy in patients with AF, who also have dementia.

Nearly one-third of stroke cases in clinical practice are associated with AF, and anticoagulant therapy reduces the risk by two-thirds. Typically, the decision to use anticoagulant therapy in patients with AF is guided by a formal risk stratification tool for stroke (CHA2DS2-VASc, as per Australian guidelines), but this does not consider competing risks for death (e.g. a comorbidity of dementia). Hence, there is the concern that patients with dementia may be unnecessarily exposed to anticoagulant therapy and its associated risks (e.g. major bleeds, including intracranial haemorrhage).

As noted in the recent literature, we need more evidence on the risks and benefits associated with anticoagulant therapy in people who have both AF and dementia. This PhD project will examine, in depth, the utilisation pattern of anticoagulants in a large national sample of patients with both AF and dementia, and longitudinally determine clinical outcomes (e.g. stroke and bleeding events). The over-arching aim is to develop evidence-based clinical guidance on the appropriate use of anticoagulant therapy in patients with AF and concomitant dementia (e.g. perhaps a modified risk stratification approach).

The study will utilise the MedicineInsight dataset, a national whole-practice dataset collecting from consenting general practices across Australia. It contains longitudinal data of routine clinical practice and collects de-identified information on patient characteristics, diagnoses, pathology tests, prescribed medicines and clinical observations extracted from the clinical information system of general practices. The supervisory team has access to the relevant datasets and extensive experience and publications with the use of the data.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Daniel Hoyle


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.

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:

  • Relevant skills and experience in clinical pharmacy/pharmacology

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Preferably a registered pharmacist in Australia

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, Dr Daniel Hoyle 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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