Consensus and variations in opinions on delirium care: a survey of European delirium specialists

Int Psychogeriatr. 2013 Dec;25(12):2067-75. doi: 10.1017/S1041610213001415. Epub 2013 Aug 20.


Background: 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.

Methods: 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.

Results: 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.

Conclusions: 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Delirium / therapy*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Geriatric Psychiatry / methods
  • Geriatric Psychiatry / standards
  • Geriatric Psychiatry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards
  • Surveys and Questionnaires