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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 42

of 'Overview of spirituality in palliative care'

The delirium experience: delirium recall and delirium-related distress in hospitalized patients with cancer, their spouses/caregivers, and their nurses.
Breitbart W, Gibson C, Tremblay A
Psychosomatics. 2002;43(3):183.
We conducted a systematic examination of the experience of delirium in a sample of 154 hospitalized patients with cancer. Patients all met DSM-IV criteria for delirium and were rated with the Memorial Delirium Assessment Scale as a measure of delirium severity, phenomenology, and resolution. Of the 154 patients assessed, 101 had complete resolution of their delirium and were administered the Delirium Experience Questionnaire (DEQ-a face-valid measure that assesses delirium recall and distress related to the delirium episode). Spouse/caregivers and primary nurses were also administered the DEQ to assess distress related to caring for a delirious patient. Fifty-four (53.5%) patients recalled their delirium experience. Logistic-regression analysis demonstrated that short-term memory impairment (odds ratio [OR]= 38.4), delirium severity (OR = 11.3), and the presence of perceptual disturbances (OR = 6.9) were significant predictors of delirium recall. Mean delirium-related distress levels (on a 0-4 numerical rating scale of the DEQ) were 3.2 for patients who recalled delirium, 3.75 for spouses/caregivers, and 3.09 for nurses. Logistic-regression analysis demonstrated that the presence of delusions (OR = 7.9) was the most significant predictor of patient distress. Patients with "hypoactive" delirium were just as distressedas patients with "hyperactive" delirium. Karnofsky Performance Status (OR = 9.1) was the most significant predictor of spouse/caregiver distress. Delirium severity (OR =5.2) and the presence of perceptual disturbances (OR =3.6) were the most significant predictors of nurse distress. In conclusion, a majority of patients with delirium recall their delirium as highly distressing. Delirium is also a highly distressing experience for spouses/caregivers and nurses who are caring for delirious patients. Prompt recognition and treatment of delirium is critically important to reduce suffering and distress.
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021, USA. Breitbaw@mskcc.org