Medication-related harm

Evaluation of quality use of medicines and medication-related harm in Australian health care settings

Degree type


Closing date

10 October 2022



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

Medication-related harm is on the rise worldwide, mainly with an increase in medication errors and inappropriate medication use. An ageing population with multiple comorbidities, managed with numerous medicines, increases the risk and occurrence of medication errors. Medication-related harm costs over $42 billion globally pa and accounts for approximately 5-6 % of all hospitalisations. In Australia, at least 250,000 medication-related hospital admissions cost AUD 1.4 billion annually. In response to this problem, The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) accepted the WHO challenge: Medication without harm. At the same time, the Federal Government listed Quality Use of Medicines and Medicines Safety as the 10th National Health Priority. Inappropriate polypharmacy, high-risk medications, and transitions of care were the three flagship areas identified by ACSQHC to reduce medication-related harm. However, limited evidence is currently available in Australia to guide and monitor any reduction in medication-related harm. Although most medication-related harm occurs in primary care (e.g., 71% of medication-related harm in the UK is from primary care), little research is available on Australian primary care. Australian response to the WHO initiative, including reducing avoidable medication-related harm by 50% by 2025, will not be successful without sufficient evidence to guide and monitor. This project will evaluate (i) the quality use of medicines and (ii) the incidence of medication-related harm in Australian health care settings. The datasets we access give several options for designing PhD projects focused on quality medication use and medication-related harm.

PhD students will develop data management and analysis skills using a national primary care dataset, MedicineInsight or Tasmanian public hospitals data. MedicineInsight is one of Australia's most extensive primary care datasets. It contains socio-demographic information, diagnoses, prescription, the reason for encounter, pathology tests, and observations. As of September 2021, over 3 million regular patients from 680 general practices across Australia (45 from Tasmania) were included in the dataset. The Tasmanian hospital Digital Medical Records and Admitted Patient Care National Minimum Dataset will also be used to evaluate the quality use of medicines and medication-related harm.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Woldesellassie Bezabhe


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 $28,854 per annum (2022 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:

  • Sound knowledge in Pharmacy and Pharmacology
  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

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:

  • Data management and analysis skills

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 Woldesellassie Bezabhe 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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