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  Experience and outcomes of persistent delirium for individuals and family carers post discharge from acute hospital care

   School of Health in Social Science

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  Dr S Rhynas, Dr Juliet MacArthur  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Please ensure you check the eligibility criteria before applying to this project.

The Advanced Care Research Centre (ACRC) is a multi-disciplinary, £20M research centre at the University of Edinburgh. The ACRC will lead society’s response to the grand challenge of an ageing population that is growing in size, longevity and needs through the pursuit of research intended to deliver “high‐quality data‐driven, personalised and affordable care to support the independence, dignity and quality‐of‐life of people living in their own homes and in supported care environments”.

This project sits within the ACRC Academy , a dedicated Centre for Doctoral Training, co-located with the ACRC, whose students will deliver key aspects of the ACRC research agenda through a new doctoral-level research and training programme that will also equip them for careers across a wide range of pioneering and influential leadership roles in the public, private and third sectors.

The PhD with Integrated Study in Advanced Care is a novel, structured, thematic, cohort-based, programme of 48 months duration. Each PhD research project within the Academy has been devised by a supervisory team comprising academic staff from at least two of the three colleges within the University of Edinburgh. Each annual cohort of around twelve will include students with disciplinary backgrounds spanning from engineering and data science to humanities, social science, business and commerce, social work, medicine and related health and care professions. This unique level of diversity is a key attribute of our programme.



To explore the experience of patients with persistent delirium post discharge, including their information and support needs, and examine the health and social care needs for this population and their families, including third sector provision.


  • To explore the experience of older people and their family members as they live with persistent delirium through acute hospital admission and discharge
  • To examine service needs and outcomes of older adults who have experienced persistent delirium following an acute illness
  • To map the social networks and environments with which older people who have experienced persistent delirium and their families engage in the post-discharge period 
  • Achieve these objectives through a mixed-methods approach


Delirium is a significant challenge for as many as 20% of adults in hospital (Meagher et al 2014). Up to 20% of patients experience persistent delirium in the months following discharge (Cole et al 2009) and evidence suggests an association with long-term cognitive impairment (MacLullich et al 2009). Changes in cognitive function may require new or enhanced access to health and social care services. The experience of people, who live with persistent delirium and their families, is poorly understood. This PhD studentship offers opportunity to research their experiences, explicitly seeking to understand the service needs and outcomes for this group of older adults and to explore how they interact with social networks and environments. 

The project works with an established supervisory team and a range of experienced clinical advisors to ensure that the realities of clinical practice and support post-discharge can be reflected in the study.  

There is opportunity for the successful applicant to shape the project’s design. The research is conceptualized as a mixed methods project with significant qualitative components and opportunity to explore the use of creative and inclusive research approaches. Data-driven elements and social network analysis could be included to explore the needs of this complex population.  


A good degree (2:1 or equivalent) in a relevant discipline (such as medicine or nursing) or equivalent professional/clinical experience.

We are specifically looking for applicants who will view their cutting-edge PhD research project in the context of the overall vision of the ACRC, who are keen to contribute to tackling a societal grand challenge and who can add unique value to – and derive great benefit from – training in a cohort comprising colleagues with a very diverse range of disciplines and backgrounds. We advise prospective candidates to engage in dialogue with the named project supervisor and/or the Director of the Academy prior to submitting an application. 

You must read How to apply prior to application

Please Apply here

Nursing & Health (27) Sociology (32)

Funding Notes

All offers include an enhanced stipend for the full 4 year period, and the payment of fees.
The call is open to candidates with home fees status only, including, for example, candidates with settled or pre-settled status
Please apply here:


Cole, M. G., Ciampi, A., Belzile, E., & Zhong, L. (2009). Persistent delirium in older hospital patients: a systematic review of frequency and prognosis. Age and ageing, 38(1), 19-26.
MacLullich, A. M., Beaglehole, A., Hall, R. J., & Meagher, D. J. (2009). Delirium and long-term cognitive impairment. International Review of Psychiatry, 21(1), 30-42.
Meagher, D., O'regan, N., Ryan, D., Connolly, W., Boland, E., O'Caoimhe, R., ... & Timmons, S. (2014). Frequency of delirium and subsyndromal delirium in an adult acute hospital population. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 205(6), 478-485.
Partridge, J., Martin, F., Harari, D. and Dhesi, J., (2012) The delirium experience: what is the effect on patients, relatives and staff and what can be done to modify this?. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 28(8), pp.804-812.
Rieck, K. M., Pagali, S., & Miller, D. M. (2020). Delirium in hospitalized older adults. Hospital practice, 48(sup1), 3-16.

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