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Health literacy and cardiovascular health

   Menzies Institute for Medical Research

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  Dr Rachel Climie  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Primordial prevention of cardiovascular disease using health literacy

Background. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading cause of death worldwide. While overt CVD may not appear until later in life, the risk factors for CVD begin to develop in childhood and are associated with adverse outcomes in adulthood. Although a large amount of the burden of CVD can be attributed to modifiable behavioural risk factors, a major challenge is initiating and maintaining behaviour change, which may in part be due to inadequacies in health literacy. Whilst health promotion activities are common in the school environment, unless children are health literate such activities will never be sustainable, because health promotion cannot be achieved in isolation from health literacy. Tasmanian children have some of the worst health profiles in the nation (30% of children are overweight compared to 25% nationally). Thus, there is a critical need to develop effective and feasible strategies to better the cardiovascular health (CVH) of some of Australia’s most unhealthy children, to stem the future burden of CVD.

The specific aims are to: 

  1. Determine the feasibility and acceptability of assessing CVH knowledge and metrics in children pre and post a 1-year health literacy intervention
  2. Determine the impact of the intervention on CVH knowledge and metrics in children.

Basic methodology. This project will leverage an existing childhood health literacy program (HealthLit4Kids) which has already been rolled out in 5 Tasmanian schools. HealthLit4Kids is a 1-year intervention co-designed with key stakeholders and aligned with the Australian school curriculum which aims to increase health literacy in children, their families and communities. However, whether HealthLit4Kids has beneficial effects on children’s CVH knowledge and CVH is yet to be determined. This extension of HealthLit4Kids will involve the assessment of CVH knowledge (primary outcome) and objective CVH (secondary outcomes, diet, physical activity, blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, BMI, smoking exposure) in children pre- and post-intervention.


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 $28,597 per annum (2021 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.


The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research 

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.

Application process

After checking and ensuring that you meet the eligibility and selection criteria contact the project supervisor.

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