Preterm Birth and Psychological Function

Psychological Experiences of Families After Preterm Birth in Tasmania: A Mixed Methods Approach

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023


Hobart, Launceston

Citizenship requirement


About the research project

Preterm birth (<37 weeks of gestation) is a major global health concern impacting approximately 15 million families around the world every year. Tasmania has the highest preterm birth rate in Australia, at an estimated 11.3%, impacting over 600 families each year. These Tasmanian families are often faced with restricted access to specialised maternal-foetal or neonatal care due to regional and remote geographical status, often requiring physical displacement to engage with service provision. Established research denotes the risk preterm birth poses to maternal mental health, however, there is restricted knowledge of the cumulative risk faced by Tasmanian families as a result of unique sociodemographic indicators. Further, less is known about the broader impacts of preterm birth on the family unit, including other caregivers and siblings. Therefore, this study will adopt a family-integrated, place-based approach to comprehensively characterise family experiences after preterm birth in Tasmania. This study will utilise a longitudinal mixed-methods design including sequential focus groups with family representatives, and qualitative and quantitative data collection methods. Families will be recruited from birth with follow-up periods up to two years after birth. The successful candidate will have the opportunity to engage with multidisciplinary partnerships across Tasmania.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Kimberley Norris


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:

  • Achievement of minimum English language standards

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:

  • Completion (or near completion) of an Honours degree in the discipline of Psychology. Honours degree must be completed prior to commencement of PhD
  • Knowledge or working experience in child health and/or development
  • Exceptional interpersonal and written communication skills
  • Experience in conducting statistical analyses

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, Prof Kimberley Norris 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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