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Debbie Tolson

Professor, PhD MSc BSc(Hons) PFHEA RGN, Alzheimer Scotland Professor of Dementia, Assistant Dean Research and Enterprise

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Personal profile

Area of academic expertise - outline

Professor Debbie Tolson joined University of the West of Scotland as the inaugural Director of the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice in January 2013. In addition to Centre Directorship she is the Assistant Dean Research and Enterprise within the School of Health, Nursing and Midwifery.   She is a nurse leader with an international reputation for advancing evidence informed dementia care and gerontological practice. 

In 2010 her contribution to research with older people was recognised by St Louis University (USA) Medical School through the award of the Jim Flood Memorial Alzheimer Disease Distinguished Lectureship. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Nursing UK, and an Honorary Fellow of the Queen's Nursing Institute: Scotland. She was the recipient of the Sigma Theta Tau International, 2007 award for the Best of Worldviews on Evidence Based Nursing. Her research outputs include over 100 peer reviewed research papers, national care guidance for nurses and patients, edited books and book chapters, radio broadcasts, creative performance and popular press. She has secured research funding in excess of £5million   from a range of sources, including Research Council, Chief Scientist Office, EU, industry, UK and charitable organisations.

Current research activities

Current research studies focussed on living the best life possible with dementia.  Ranging from studies of the experience of people with early onset dementia who receive their diagnosis when employed, delirium management in acute hospitals, to studies with older people who have advanced to severe dementia. Education studies focus on equipping the qualified dementia workforce with the skills they need to champion reform and best practice where they work.  All studies are applied and seek to inform both practice and policy for example our European Project - Dementia Palliare. 

Desired research direction

Our priority within the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice at UWS is to undertake studies that inform and support family caring and integrated evidence informed dementia practice. In particular I am interested in experience based research and the development of innovations to support individuals and family to live the best life possible with advanced and severe dementia. 

Target collaborative companies

We would like to work with family carers, individuals, care home providers, day care providers and technology based companies interested in dementia.  With first responders including fire, police and ambulance services and practitioners from criminal justice and prison services where an increasing number of people with cognitive impairments including people with dementia are finding themselves. 

External positions

Executive Member , Scottish Dementia

2014 → …


  • RT Nursing
  • Dementia
  • Gerontology

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Research Output 2007 2018

Open Access
Cross-Sectional Studies
Analysis of Variance

Dementia in the workplace case study research: understanding the experiences of individuals, colleagues, and managers

Ritchie, L., Tolson, D. & Danson, M. 31 Oct 2018 In : Ageing & Society. 38, 10, p. 2146-2175

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access

Employer Responses to Dementia in the Workplace A Report to the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland

Stavert, J., Ritchie, L., Danson, M., Egdell, V., Cook, M. & Tolson, D. 20 Mar 2018 The Carnegie Trust. 84 p.

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

Open Access

ES1D: A deep network for EEG-based subject identification

Arnau González, P., Katsigiannis, S., Ramzan, N., Tolson, D. & Arevalillo-Herráez, M. 11 Jan 2018 IEEE 17th International Conference on Bioinformatics and Bioengineering (BIBE), 2017 . IEEE, (IEEE International Conference on Bioinformatics and Bioengineering (BIBE))

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Open Access

Experiences of advanced dementia care in seven European countries: implications for educating the workforce

Lillo-Crespo, M., Riqelme Galindo, J., MacRae, R., de Abreu, W., Hanson, E., Holmerova, I., Cabanero, M. J., Ferrer, R. & Tolson, D. 13 Aug 2018 In : Global Health Action. 11, 12 p., 1478686

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Early Diagnosis

Activities 2015 2015

  • 1 Oral presentation

A staff developed intervention for reducing agitation in residents living with dementia

Edgerton, E. (Speaker), Tolson, D. (Speaker), Dewar, B. (Speaker)
2 Dec 20153 Dec 2015

Activity: Oral presentation


Professional Role
United Kingdom