Prestigious Dhole-Eddlestone Memorial Prize awarded to ‘Recurrent delirium over 12 months predicts dementia: results of the Delirium and Cognitive Impact in Dementia (DECIDE) study'

Friday, January 14, 2022

The prestigious Dhole-Eddlestone Memorial Prize 2022 has been awarded to Dr Sarah Richardson for the research paper Recurrent delirium over 12 months predicts dementia: results of the Delirium and Cognitive Impact in Dementia (DECIDE) study. The prize is given annually to the most deserving medical research relating to the needs of older people, published over the last year in the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society,  Age and Ageing.


The paper showed for the first time that those patients who experience delirium while in hospital have an increased risk of cognitive decline and of a new diagnosis of dementia. Furthermore, the research proves that the more severe grades of delirium are associated with worse cognitive outcomes.


Delirium is a serious cognitive disorder which affects up to a quarter of patients over 65 years of age during their hospital stay1. While there has been progress in research, education, and clinical management of delirium, these findings from the DECIDE study offer substantial clinical implications because delirium itself is modifiable, and in some cases preventable2, 3. Interventions to reduce the risk of delirium may have the potential to reduce the burden of dementia for individuals and therefore wider society.


The prize selection committee was impressed by this study which builds on the trajectory of research into delirium and its association with dementia. In 2019, the Age and Ageing journal highlighted the progress and possibilities for the treatment of delirium with its collection Delirium research, education and practice and accompanying commentary from Susan Shenkin and Alastair MacLullich.


Professor Rowan Harwood, Editor-in-Chief of Age and Ageing, commented:

Delirium is common, serious and a distressing experience for many ill older people. But it is still under-researched. This study demonstrated that episodes of delirium can result in permanent cognitive damage. It answered a clinically relevant question, was ambitious, used a very neat design and was brilliantly executed. We had 19 nominations for the prize, all of outstanding academic quality. Age and Ageing, with an impact factor of 10.7, has become the leading international journal in clinical geriatric medicine thanks to papers such as these.”


Dr Sarah Richardson, NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer in Older People’s Medicine at Newcastle University, led the study. She commented:

My fellow authors and I are absolutely thrilled and hugely honoured to receive this prestigious award. We would like to say a massive thank you to all of the participants and their families who enabled us to robustly demonstrate, for the first time, that recurrent episodes of delirium, along with more severe delirium and more days with delirium, all significantly increase risk of future cognitive decline and dementia. Our findings emphasise the vital importance of recognising delirium, actively managing it and preventing further episodes, along with the urgent need for funding for dementia prevention trials that focus on delirium intervention.”


Sian Gregory, Research Information Manager at Alzheimer’s Society, said:

It’s so great that this important research we’ve funded Dr Richardson to carry out has been recognised – next steps will be to see if reducing delirium lowers the risk of dementia. Research developments like these can make a huge difference to people’s experience of delirium and the treatment they receive in hospital.”


The paper will be presented, and the Dhole-Eddlestone Memorial Prize awarded, at the virtual BGS Spring Meeting, which is being held online 6-8 April 2022.




  1. Partridge JSL, Martin FC, Harari D, Dhesi JK. The delirium experience: what is the effect on patients, relatives and staff and what can be done to modify this? Int J Geriatr Psychiatry 2013; 28: 804–12. 

  2. Daniel Davis, Samuel D Searle, Alex Tsui, The Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network: risk reduction and management of delirium, Age and Ageing, Volume 48, Issue 4, July 2019, Pages 485–488.

  3. Siddiqi N, Harrison JK, Clegg A et al. Interventions for preventing delirium in hospitalised non-ICU patients. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2016.