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Delirium is a common neuropsychiatric syndrome with considerable heterogeneity in clinical profile. Identification of clinical subtypes can allow for more targeted clinical and research efforts. We sought to develop a brief method for clinical subtyping in clinical and research settings.
A multi-site database, including motor symptom assessments conducted in 487 patients from palliative care, adult and old age consultation-liaison psychiatry services was used to document motor activity disturbances as per the Delirium Motor Checklist (DMC). Latent class analysis (LCA) was used to identify the class structure underpinning DMC data and also items for a brief subtyping scale. The concordance of the abbreviated scale was then compared with the original Delirium Motor Subtype Scale (DMSS) in 375 patients having delirium as per the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (4th edition) criteria.
Latent class analysis identified four classes that corresponded closely with the four recognized motor subtypes of delirium. Further, LCA of items (n = 15) that loaded >60% to the model identified four features that reliably identified the classes/subtypes, and these were combined as a brief motor subtyping scale (DMSS-4). There was good concordance for subtype attribution between the original DMSS and the DMSS-4 (κ = 0.63).
The DMSS-4 allows for rapid assessment of clinical subtypes in delirium and has high concordance with the longer and well-validated DMSS. More consistent clinical subtyping in delirium can facilitate better delirium management and more focused research effort.
There are still substantial uncertainties over best practice in delirium care. The European Delirium Association (EDA) conducted a survey of its members and other interested parties on various aspects of delirium care.
The invitation to participate in the online survey was distributed among the EDA membership. The survey covered assessment, treatment of hyperactive and hypoactive delirium, and organizational management.
A total of 200 responses were collected (United Kingdom 28.6%, Netherlands 25.3%, Italy 15%, Switzerland 9.7%, Germany 7.1%, Spain 3.8%, Portugal 2.5%, Ireland 2.5%, Sweden 0.6%, Denmark 0.6%, Austria 0.6%, and others 3.2%). Most of the responders were doctors (80%), working in geriatrics (45%) or internal medicine (14%). Ninety-two per cent of the responders assessed patients for delirium daily. The most commonly used assessment tools were the Confusion Assessment Method (52%) and the Delirium Observation Screening Scale (30%). The first-line choice in the management of hyperactive delirium was a combination of non-pharmacological and pharmacological approaches (61%). Conversely, non-pharmacological management was the first-line choice in hypoactive delirium (67%). Delirium awareness (34%), knowledge (33%), and lack of education (13%) were the most commonly reported barriers to improving the detection of delirium. Interestingly, 63% of the responders referred patients after an episode of delirium to a follow-up clinic.
This is the first systematic survey involving an international group of specialists in delirium. Several areas of lack of consensus were found. These results emphasise the importance of further research to improve care of this major unmet medical need.
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