"Delirium Day": A nationwide point prevalence study of delirium in older hospitalized patients using an easy standardized diagnostic tool

Giuseppe Bellelli, Alessandro Morandi, Simona G. Di Santo, Andrea Mazzone, Antonio Cherubini, Enrico Mossello, Mario Bo, Angelo Bianchetti, Renzo Rozzini, Ermellina Zanetti, Massimo Musicco, Alberto Ferrari, Nicola Ferrara, Marco Trabucchi, Stefano Boffelli, Fabio Di Stefano, Francesco De Filippi, Fabio Guerini, Erik Bertoletti, Albert MarchAlessandro Margiotta, Patrizia Mecocci, Desireè Addesi, Fausto Fantò, Babette Dijik, Paola Porrino, Antonino Maria Cotroneo, Giovanni Galli, Amalia Cecilia Bruni, Bruno Bernardini, Carla Corsini, Annachiara Cagnin, Amedeo Zurlo, Giuseppe Barbagallo, Maria Lia Lunardelli, Emilio Martini, Giuseppe Battaglia, Raffaele Latella, Donatella Petritola, Elena Sinforiani, Alberto Cester, Marino Formilan, Pasqualina Carbone, Ildebrando Appollonio, Diletta Cereda, Lucio Tremolizzo, Daniela Mari, Elio Scarpini, Giuseppina Dell'Aquila, Stefano Avanzi, on behalf of the Italian Study Group on Delirium (ISGoD)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: To date, delirium prevalence in adult acute hospital populations has been estimated generally from pooled findings of single-center studies and/or among specific patient populations. Furthermore, the number of participants in these studies has not exceeded a few hundred. To overcome these limitations, we have determined, in a multicenter study, the prevalence of delirium over a single day among a large population of patients admitted to acute and rehabilitation hospital wards in Italy. Methods: This is a point prevalence study (called "Delirium Day") including 1867 older patients (aged 65 years or more) across 108 acute and 12 rehabilitation wards in Italian hospitals. Delirium was assessed on the same day in all patients using the 4AT, a validated and briefly administered tool which does not require training. We also collected data regarding motoric subtypes of delirium, functional and nutritional status, dementia, comorbidity, medications, feeding tubes, peripheral venous and urinary catheters, and physical restraints. Results: The mean sample age was 82.0 ± 7.5 years (58 % female). Overall, 429 patients (22.9 %) had delirium. Hypoactive was the commonest subtype (132/344 patients, 38.5 %), followed by mixed, hyperactive, and nonmotoric delirium. The prevalence was highest in Neurology (28.5 %) and Geriatrics (24.7 %), lowest in Rehabilitation (14.0 %), and intermediate in Orthopedic (20.6 %) and Internal Medicine wards (21.4 %). In a multivariable logistic regression, age (odds ratio [OR] 1.03, 95 % confidence interval [CI] 1.01-1.05), Activities of Daily Living dependence (OR 1.19, 95 % CI 1.12-1.27), dementia (OR 3.25, 95 % CI 2.41-4.38), malnutrition (OR 2.01, 95 % CI 1.29-3.14), and use of antipsychotics (OR 2.03, 95 % CI 1.45-2.82), feeding tubes (OR 2.51, 95 % CI 1.11-5.66), peripheral venous catheters (OR 1.41, 95 % CI 1.06-1.87), urinary catheters (OR 1.73, 95 % CI 1.30-2.29), and physical restraints (OR 1.84, 95 % CI 1.40-2.40) were associated with delirium. Admission to Neurology wards was also associated with delirium (OR 2.00, 95 % CI 1.29-3.14), while admission to other settings was not. Conclusions: Delirium occurred in more than one out of five patients in acute and rehabilitation hospital wards. Prevalence was highest in Neurology and lowest in Rehabilitation divisions. The "Delirium Day" project might become a useful method to assess delirium across hospital settings and a benchmarking platform for future surveys.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106
JournalBMC Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 18 2016


  • 4AT
  • Delirium
  • Hospital
  • Multicenter
  • Prevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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