Student Projects

Why Join the ROSA Research Team?

DSC_2236 Team ROSA SAHMRI foyer_small.jpg

There are many great reasons, including:

•You will have the opportunity to work on a unique data resource that is of a scale that dwarfs many other ‘big data’ projects in public health. E.g. our historical cohort includes almost 3 million Australians who were assessed for and/or received aged care services between 1997 and 2014.

•You will contribute to fulfilling research that will make a real difference to the lives of older Australians.

•We can supervise Honours, Masters and PhD students enrolled through the University of Adelaide, University of South Australia or Flinders University.

•You will be supported by a supervisory panel with the most relevant expertise drawn from ROSA’s partner organisations.

•If you are interested in incorporating some industry engagement into your PhD, we have strong active links with some of the leaders in the aged care industry (e.g. Helping Hand, ECH and Silver Chain) and would be happy to discuss ways you could be involved in research with an element of industry collaboration.  

•ROSA also has a strong commitment to consumer engagement, with members of the community and consumer advocacy organisations (e.g. COTA SA and Health Consumers Alliance of SA) on our governance committees and providing input and guidance to help with developing research questions. We are also involved in a range of public outreach and science communication activities which you could take part in.

•You will be based at SAHMRI and be part of an excellent cross-disciplinary research team.

Current Opportunities for Students:

You can download a copy of our currently available ROSA Student Project Opportunities HERE.

Do you have your own ideas for a healthy ageing research project using the Registry of Older South Australians data infrastructure to improve the lives of older Australians? The ROSA Research Team would love to hear from you! Please download the ROSA Student Project Opportunities booklet and contact us via the email addresses provided on the last page.

Our areas of expertise include: epidemiology, dementia and cognitive decline, public health, health economics, geriatrics, musculoskeletal conditions, psychiatric conditions, and psychometrics.


If you are considering doing an Honours or a Higher Degree Research project with the ROSA Research Team enrolled through the University of Adelaide, check out pages 13 and 14 in the Faculty of Health Sciences 2019 Student Opportunities Booklet.


If you are considering doing Honours with the ROSA Research Team enrolled through Flinders University, check out the last 2 pages of the Flinders University College of Medicine & Public Health Honours Student Booklet.


If you are considering doing Honours, Masters or a PhD with the ROSA Research Team enrolled through the University of South Australia, please download our ROSA Student Project Opportunities booklet and contact us via the email addresses on the last page.

Example Student Projects include:



Project #1. Changes in Psychotropic Medication Use After Entering Permanent Residential Aged Care in Australia.

National and international guidelines for appropriate medication use in residential aged care recommend that psychotropic medications should not be used as first line treatment for changed behaviours in dementia due to the potential risks outweighing their potential benefits. Psychotropic medications (including antipsychotics, benzodiazepines and antidepressants) are associated with a high-risk of adverse events such as an increased risk of falls, cardiovascular complications and mortality. Despite recommendations, an estimated 61% of people living in Australian residential aged care facilities are regularly using psychotropic medications. 

This project will examine if people are prescribed more psychotropic medications after entering residential aged care in Australia compared to when they were living at home. An analysis of trends of psychotropic medication use over time in residential aged care facilities will also be conducted to see if the use of psychotropics has decreased over time.

This project will be based at SAHMRI through the Registry of Older South Australians (ROSA). ROSA includes an historical national database (1997-2014) of the older population of Australia who accessed aged care services during this time. The database includes 2.9 million unique individuals with information from their aged care assessments linked with National Death Index data, Medicare data and Pharmaceutical data.


Project #2. The Effect of Frailty on the Utilisation of Aged Care Services- a Population Based Evaluation. 

Frailty is a state of increased vulnerability to mortality and is estimated to be prevalent in 18-49% of older Australians. While frailty is known to disproportionately affect the utilisation of health care services of people, less is understood regarding its effect on the utilisation of aged care services in Australia. 

Using the Registry of Older South Australians (ROSA), this project will evaluate the effect of frailty on the utilisation of aged care services on the ROSA cohort from 2003 to 2014. It will describe how the cohort’s frailty has changed over the study period and evaluate how it affects the utilisation of specific types of aged care services. Frailty will be measured using the recently developed ROSA Frailty Index. Aged care service utilisation will be measured by the types of aged care services received by the study cohort (i.e. permanent residential aged care, home care packages, transition care, and respite care). 

Understanding the epidemiology of aged care services in frail people will inform the preparation of the aged care system regarding resource allocation, workforce preparation, and policy development. This is needed as our population continues to age, increasing demand on our system.



Project #3. The Use of Rheumatological Medications by those with Musculoskeletal Conditions in Aged Care.

This project aims to examine the use of rheumatological medications by those reporting a musculoskeletal condition as part of their aged care assessment. The data are obtained from the Registry of Older South Australians and include the Aged Care Assessment Team assessment (ACAT), the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) and data from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). These data can be compared to those that have an assessment but are not admitted to permanent residential aged care, to determine if any differences exist.



Project #4. Do the professions of assessors for aged care services eligibility affect the reporting of medical conditions and functional limitations and which services are recommended for older people in Australia?


Before people can receive government-subsidised aged care services, a detailed assessment is conducted with an aged care assessment team (ACAT). ACATs assess the individual’s level of need for aged care services by reporting information such as the person’s health conditions and functional limitations. The professions of the ACATs vary widely, from medical practitioners, health professionals, nursing professionals to social welfare professionals. The professions of the ACATs may influence the clinical judgement of whether to conduct a clinical assessment for certain health conditions or ability to refer to a specialist. Yet, it is unknown if the professions (and subsequent skill set) of the ACATs affects what is recorded during the assessment (including medical conditions and functional status) and what services are recommended for the individual.

This project will utilise the National Historical cohort of the Registry of Older South Australians (ROSA) which includes information on 955,439 people who have had one or multiple ACAT assessments (2003-2014). Associations between the professions of the ACATs and the medical conditions and functional limitations reported, and services recommended will be examined.