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The frequency of full syndromal and subsyndromal delirium is understudied.
We conducted a point prevalence study in a general hospital.
Possible delirium identified by testing for inattention was evaluated regarding delirium status (full/subsyndromal delirium) using categorical (Confusion Assessment Method (CAM), DSM-IV) and dimensional (Delirium Rating Scale-Revised-98 (DRS-R98) scores) methods.
In total 162 of 311 patients (52%) screened positive for inattention. Delirium was diagnosed in 55 patients (17.7%) using DSM-IV, 52 (16.7%) using CAM and 58 (18.6%) using DRS-R98⩾12 with concordance for 38 (12.2%) individuals. Subsyndromal delirium was identified in 24 patients (7.7%) using a DRS-R98 score of 7–11 and 41 (13.2%) using 2/4 CAM criteria. Subsyndromal delirium with inattention (v. without) had greater disturbance of multiple delirium symptoms.
The point prevalence of delirium and subsyndromal delirium was 25%. There was modest concordance between DRS-R98, DSM-IV and CAM delirium diagnoses. Inattention should be central to subsyndromal delirium definitions.
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