Assessing delirium in cancer patients. The Italian versions of the delirium rating scale and the memorial delirium assessment scale

Luigi Grassi, Augusto Caraceni, Elisabetta Beltrami, Claudia Borreani, Maria Zamorani, Marco Maltoni, Massimo Monti, Massimo Luzzani, Sebastiano Mercadante, Franco De Conno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


To validate the Italian versions of the Delirium Rating Scale (DRS) and the Memorial Delirium Assessment Scale (MDAS), 105 cancer patients consecutively referred for neurological or psychiatric consultation for mental status change were evaluated using the Confusion Assessment Method (CAM), the DRS, the MDAS, and the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). According to the CAM criteria and clinical examination, 66 patients were delirious, and 39 received diagnoses other than delirium. The DRS and the MDAS scores significantly distinguished delirious from non-delirious patients. The MDAS and the DRS were mutually correlated. When using the proposed cut-off scores for the two scales, the MDAS had higher specificity (94%) but lower sensitivity (68%) than the DRS (sensitivity = 95%, specificity = 61% for DRS cut-off 10; sensitivity = 80%, specificity = 76%, DRS cut-off 12). The MMSE showed high sensitivity (96%) and very low specificity (38%). Exploratory factor analysis of the DRS and the MDAS suggested a three-factor and two-factor structure, respectively. Both instruments in their Italian version proved to be useful for the assessment of delirium among cancer patients. Further research is needed to examine the use of the DRS and the MDAS in other clinical contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-68
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001



  • Cancer
  • Delirium
  • Delirium Rating Scale (DRS)
  • Memorial Delirium Assessment Scale (MDAS)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Nursing(all)

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