RADAR: A Measure of the Sixth Vital Sign?

Clin Nurs Res. 2016 Feb;25(1):9-29. doi: 10.1177/1054773815603346. Epub 2015 Sep 2.


The objective of this study was to investigate the potential of RADAR (Recognizing Active Delirium As part of your Routine) as a measure of the sixth vital sign. This study was a secondary analysis of a study (N = 193) that took place in one acute care hospital and one long-term care facility. The primary outcome was a positive sixth vital sign, defined as the presence of both an altered level of consciousness and inattention. These indicators were assessed using the Confusion Assessment Method. RADAR identified 30 of the 43 participants as having a positive sixth vital sign and 58 of the 70 cases as not, yielding a sensitivity and specificity of 70% and 83%, respectively. Positive predictive value was 71%. RADAR's characteristics, including its brevity and acceptability by nursing staff, make this tool a good candidate as a measure of the sixth vital sign. Future studies should address the generalizability of RADAR among various populations and clinical settings.

Keywords: cognitive impairment; elderly; mental status; sixth vital sign.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale / standards*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / diagnosis*
  • Delirium / diagnosis*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Nursing Homes
  • Sensitivity and Specificity